Larry Fitzgerald

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Although it is similar to premature ejaculation to “look forward to the end result” and make “predictions” about the regular season before the final roster has been set, it seems that the Arizona Cardinals are primed to do great things this season, based upon statistics from last season.

In the 2016 season, the Cardinals finished with a record of 7-8-1 and second in the NFC West behind the Seattle Seahawks. Seattle finished the regular season with a record of 10-6, only two games better than Arizona. Taking 2016 under a microscope, one can notice that, even though the Cardinals did have a lot of injuries, five out of their eight losses were by seven points or fewer.

Arizona will enter 2017 with some new faces, and new mindsets. Head Coach Bruce Arians spoke on NFL Network about the 2016 season saying, “You gotta win close games, The NFL is all about close games. And we had won more close games than anybody in the league previous years. And last year, we lost four games that we had — three by kicks, one by just not playing smart. We could have been smarter. We spent all offseason practicing those scenarios that put you in critical situations so we can be a smarter football team.”

This season could turn one of two ways for the Cardiac Cards.

  1. They could go down in a blaze of glory, disappointing everyone and once again not finish ballgames. or
  2. This could be the year that Arizona finishes games, and turns it around, maybe even taking the division crown. They finished two games behind Seattle in the standings, when they played them in the regular season, Arizona beat Seattle once, and tied them the other time.

The Arizona Cardinals, need to turn this year around, and they are primed to do so both offensively and defensively.

On Offense: The team has arguably the most sought after running back in the league, along with the veteran presence of Carson Palmer and of course the long time face of the franchise, Larry Fitzgerald. The three-pronged rushing attack of David Johnson, Chris Johnson and Andre Ellington will prove deadly to defenses this season. Last season the Cardinals ranked ninth in total offense even ahead of the “high-flying” Seattle Seahawk offense.

On Defense: There are a few young faces and some veterans to watch out for, Budda Baker has been turning heads this preseason, in a defensive unit that already includes three pro bowlers in Tyrann Mathieu, Patrick Peterson, and Justin Bethel. Haason Reddick has been impressing Coach Arians in training camp. So much so that B.A. spoke to the media, saying “He’s probably the best we’ve ever had as a linebacker, Being able to cover people, it’s just natural ability, having been a safety when he was young.” (See full interview: http://www.azcardinals.com/videos-photos/live-video.html)

It’s not fair to judge a book off it’s cover, and numbers do not mean everything, however, it seems that with the team gelling, and looking at the results from last season, realizing that the Arizona Cardinals missed the division crown by only two games? It seems that the future is bright for this Cardinals squad and they definitely will be one to watch in the upcoming season.

 

Thanks a lot for reading.

 

Corey Decker

@CDecker96

 

 

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After a dismal 2016-2017 season, it is easy to start drawing conclusions. If any team has any sort of negative turnaround there starts to become speculation because well, it’s easy. One of the main questions that circles the Arizona Cardinals is, Does Carson Palmer have enough left in the tank? In an interview with “Tiki and Tierney” on CBS Sports, head coach Bruce Arians had something to say about that.

“Physically, body-wise, it’s like he’s 28 right now,” Arians said. “Sports science is amazing right now. He can play easily until he’s 42 if he wants to. He is hungry as hell right now. I wouldn’t let him go in OTAs. It was like taking candy away from a kid.” Arians continued.

As a coach dubbed “the quarterback whisperer”. I think he knows what he is talking about. Just in case, let’s see the numbers from last season. Carson finished the year with 26 touchdown passes and 14 interceptions, amassing a total of 4,233 yards on the season. He finished the year ranking ninth in yards and tenth in touchdowns among active quarterbacks. So even though the Cards had a bad year, he is still a top-ten quarterback.

Palmer is not stopping the Cardinals from reaching the next level. There needs to be a certain level of veteran leadership on any elite team. The only people that are in the way of that happening is themselves. Football is just as much of a mental game as it is physical.

Coach Arians blames the entire season on one game, the week one loss against the New England Patriots. Why?

“I think a lot of it goes back to the New England game,” Arians said. “Had we won the game like we should have, with the field goal, I think the whole season is different. Why we didn’t finish the (Week 4) Ram win? Those first two losses at home set us way back for the season, because you had to fight from the back end of the hole the rest of the way.”

The issue for the Arizona Cardinals in 2016 was not Carson Palmer, Larry Fitzgerald, the offensive line, or the defensive line. It was the inability to win close ball games. If Arizona won those two close games like they should have against a Tom Brady-less Pats team and the over-hyped Los Angeles Rams, the Cardinals would have made the post season as wild card team.

The 2016 season was a fluke for the Arizona Cardinals. Even with it being a fluke, they still finished second in the NFC West. This season they are going in with a completely new mindset and after some exciting picks in the draft and because of that, the Arizona Cardinals and their fans will be able to forget about last season completely.

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To begin, I will start with a lyric from Metallica, this comes from their song, Wherever I May Roam, “I adapt to the unknown/Under wandering stars I’ve grown/By myself but not alone/I ask no one/ And my ties are severed clean/The less I have the more I gain/Off the beaten path I reign.” The reason I use this particular lyric is not only because it is a great song, but also because it perfectly encompasses the feeling of being a San Diego Chargers fan in enemy territory, Arizona.

Although the Cardinals and Chargers are not division rivals, there is still the unspoken Arizona versus California rivalry that gets created because of all of the people who have moved between the two states.

The unknown, refers to the feeling of whenever I wear my Chargers jersey to the University of Phoenix Stadium. I am highly uncertain of the reactions that will be thrown my way. Some may approach and try to have a healthy conversation where we discuss sports and whatever is going on with each others teams, such as, Philip Rivers or Larry Fitzgerald.

Others do the uneducated and frankly stupid thing many sports fans on social media are guilty. They utter the short, dastardly and annoying phrase, “Your team sucks!” Now that is all well and good…… If they can back it up. Most times, they are too drunk to remember why they stated that in the first place so it is kinda funny to ask why and watch them stumble on their words.

The wandering stars refers to the fact that I have lived in Arizona my entire life. So how did I become a Chargers fan you ask? It’s kind of a dumb story but I have never looked back since. When I was younger, my family would often vacation to the San Diego area and there was one time I can remember, we were at the convenience store on the southwest corner of Shelter Island Drive and Scott street. Me being my curious young self I picked up a koozie with a Chargers lightning bolt on it. When I got back I turned on the Madden game I had at the time, and I have grown more and more in my fanhood each year since. That was around…… 14-15 years ago.

By myself but not alone, refers to the surprisingly large presence of Chargers fans that inhabit the metro-Phoenix area that I call home.

The less I have the more I gain, off the beaten path I reign, refers to the ability that I was able to find within myself being the only Chargers fan at my school. When I realized it was actually a huge advantage to have a team not in the state of Arizona. Also, to me any team that does not have a Super Bowl ring from after the AFL-NFL merger is off the beaten path.

A lot of sports fans will gravitate to teams like the Dallas Cowboys, the San Francisco 49ers and the Pittsburgh Steelers. Their loyalty is purely based upon the fact that they have a pull safe that they can use if they are ever in a sports argument. That pull safe is “Well, we have rings.” It is a luxury a fan of those teams can use without ever watching a football game.

This is what makes the San Diego Chargers fan base so strong. It’s called faith. Similar to the Chicago Cubs, all we are able to do is look forward to the future rather than living our lives in the past. That is what we will do this season. We will charge forward, not just on the field, but off the field. In the stands we will charge forward. Why? It is because that is what our team needs, and also because of the community it builds.

 

Bolt Up Charger Brigade.

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What do you mean, Keenan Allen playing slot receiver? Just bear with me while I attempt to persuade you.

A slot receiver, by definition, is a player in the offensive formation between the offensive line and the player closest to the sideline and at least a yard off of the line of scrimmage. That space can be occupied by a wide receiver, tight end or running back. It is often used when the offense wants to confuse the defense by having more than one receiver on the same side of the field. Utilizing this tactic generally forces the opposing team to adjust their coverage scheme by making alignment changes or adding extra defensive backs to ensure that the player in that “slot” has someone on him.

While at University of California – Berkeley (UCB), Allen was used in several different formations: split wide at receiver, in the slot and in the backfield. He primarily played the slot position while at UCB, so the role would be nothing new to him. Being quick off the line of scrimmage whether the ball is coming his way or if he is being a decoy can only help Philip Rivers in the long run. Although Allen may not have top speed, he does have the ability to change speed quickly. Prior to the draft, NFL analyst Charles Davis stated “…he didn’t run very fast at his pro day, but the comparisons for him: he plays the game a lot like Anquan Boldin and has hands like Larry Fitzgerald”. Current players also known as slot receivers are: Jeremy Maclin (Kansas City Chiefs), Demaryius Thomas (Denver Broncos), Dez Bryant (Dallas Cowboys), Randall Cobb (Green Bay Packers) and free agent Wes Welker.

Allen has played 29 games in his two years with the Bolts and has 148 receptions of which 95 went for first down. Other than his receiving yardage, there are only punt return statistics for him: 26 attempts for 224 yards with 24 fair catch calls and zero touchdowns. In comparison, here is what newly-signed Jacoby Jones amassed during his first two years (2007-2008 and 30 games) in the league. As a receiver, Jones recorded 18 receptions and 11 of those were for first down. His punt return numbers: 672 yards on 62 attempts, 24 fair catches made, two TDs. On kick offs, 17 attempts for 358 yards (zero touchdowns, zero fair catches made).

Perhaps the argument can be made to move Keenan Allen to the slot since he is considerably younger than Jacoby Jones and Jones has more NFL experience overall in that position. So you are aware, though he is also on the team now, Stevie Johnson was not included in this comparison because he was only used in the return game his initial season (2008).

I know what I would do if the decision was left up to me…however, where do you think Allen lines up this season?

Thanks and Bolt Up!

Cheryl White

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In a surprise move here in Phoenix, the Arizona Cardinals have decided to part ways with defensive tackle Darnell Dockett. Dockett, 33, is 6’4 and 290 pounds. The first pick in the third round of the 2004 NFL Draft, Dockett has been a model of consistency for the Cardinals. In ten seasons from 2004 to 2013, Dockett only missed two games. In that amount of time Dockett has amassed 462 tackles,  40.5 sacks for 271 yards lost, four interceptions, eight forced fumbles and 18 passes defensed.

A three-time Pro Bowler, Dockett quickly established himself as a team leader and has been a difference maker on defense. He has been a team captain for many seasons and disruptive force from the nose tackle position.

So why did the Cardinals cut him?

Dockett suffered a torn ACL that caused him to miss the 2014 season. He will be 34 when the season starts and probably most importantly, cutting Dockett frees 7.5 million in cap space for the Cardinals. After resigning Larry Fitzgerald to a 2-year/22 million deal, the Cardinals could use that space to sign other free agents.

Should the San Diego consider signing Dockett?

The Chargers could do a lot worse than Dockett. The responsibility of the nose tackle is to be a run-stuffer first and foremost. Being able to generate 41 sacks from that position is very impressive and a testament to his athleticism. The ACL injury is very worrisome. Will he return at 100%? Will he be as effective coming off his first major injury and rehab?

The Chargers owe it to themselves to give the man a workout and see for themselves what he still has in the tank. Living in Phoenix, i’ve seen a lot of Dockett and endorse his transition into lightning bolts if his health checks out. He was an emotional leader for the Cardinals and his experience will be useful to the up and coming defensive linemen like Attaochu, Ingram and Te’o.

Nose tackle has been a turnstile since Antonio Garay left town. The addition of Dockett provides a proven, solid, consistent playmaker at the position and allows depth as well. Sean Lissemore was a decent player at the position and we’re still waiting to see what Ryan Carrethers will be able to do once he returns from injury.  The Chargers could also draft and have time to groom a blue chip nose tackle with Dockett in place anchoring the middle.

Keep in mind the Chargers finished 26th against the run last season. In the last five seasons the Chargers have finished in the top 20 against the rush once. The Cardinals finished in the top 20 four times, twice in the top 5 with Dockett manning the middle.  Shoring up the nose tackle position goes a long way to achieving a stronger, run-stuffing defensive unit. In my view, Telesco should give Dockett an incentive rich two-year deal similar to what he gave Dwight Freeney. The deal would be cap friendly and allow the Chargers even more cap flexibility.

What do you think? Should the Chargers sign Darnell Dockett?

 

 

Bolt Up!!

 

 

The Greg One

 

 

#TelescoMagic

 

 

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