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Tag:Max Hall
Posted on: February 2, 2011 1:33 pm
 

Larry Fitzgerald: 'I want to be on a winner'

Posted by Will Brinson

Despite a pretty gaudy stat line, Larry Fitzgerald didn't have the greatest of years in 2010. That's mainly the fault of Derek Anderson, Max Hall and John Skelton, but certainly the Cardinals organization deserves some blame for entering the year with that spectacular group of quarterbacks.

But even if you don't want to point fingers towards the past, there will be some questions about the future if Arizona doesn't improve the surroundings for Fitz, who emphasized this week that he very much doesn't want to suffer through another season like last year.

"I want to be on a winner,"Fitzgerald told ESPN's Mike Sando. "I want to put myself in the best position to hoist the Lombardi Trophy. I would love to do that in Arizona. That is my goal, to retire a Cardinal. They have treated me well. I love the state, but I want to win and that is really where my mind is."

But here's the rub: Fitzgerald is going to be a free agent after 2011, and if he's serious about wanting to win in Arizona, he might need to make some concessions in the negotiations.

That seems fairly unlikely to happen, especially considering the way Fitz saw Kurt Warner treated after he attempted to give Arizona a good-faith discount, which means Fitzgerald and his management will be seeking maximum money.

In doing so, even if he only ends up getting fair market value for his considerable skill set, he's inherently hampering the Cardinals' long-term ability to build a winner around him.

They can obviously still compete and pay him at the same time, of course, because it's been done prior to 2010. But wanting to a) get paid, b) play for a winner and c) stay in the same spot is a lot of cake to have and hold all at the same time.

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Posted on: January 21, 2011 2:47 pm
 

Odds on who will be Cards next QB

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

The Arizona Republic has come up with an interesting way to determine who will be the Cardinals starting quarterback next season.

After the disaster of last season – Derek Anderson, Max Hall and John Skelton all spent some time at starting QB – the Cardinals undoubtedly will be looking for a way to upgrade that position this offseason.

The newspaper has come up with (for-entertainment-purposes-only) odds to try to figure out who will take over next season, and there are some intriguing names on that list.

Including Ravens backup QB Marc Bulger (2-to-1), Denver's Kyle Orton (8-1), Philadelphia's Kevin Kolb (15-1), Washington's Donovan McNabb (150-1) and former Titans QB Vince Young (1,000-1). Interestingly, the paper believes one of three rookies who have declared for the draft – Cam Newton, Ryan Mallett and Blaine Gabbert – has a better chance of starting at 70-1 than Hall does at 100-1.

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Posted on: December 26, 2010 9:50 am
 

Kudos to Larry Fitzgerald

L. Fitzgerald made only one catch in Arizona's win vs. Dallas (US Presswire). Posted by Josh Katzowitz

You know what amazed me most Saturday night about Larry Fitzgerald? The fact that, after the Cardinals had pulled off their 27-26, last-minute victory against the Cowboys, Fitzgerald ran off the field to the locker room, and he had a huge smile on his face.

He was gesturing to somebody in the stands – or across the field, I suppose – and he looked joyous in his team’s win. Not that big a deal, right? Well, then, you don’t know many elite receivers.

With the exception of a 26-yard reception across the middle of the field on a fourth-and-15 on what would be the game-winning drive (as seen in the photo on the right), Fitzgerald played no role in Arizona’s offense. Hell, rookie QB John Skelton barely even looked his way.

Which is insane. Fitzgerald is one of the best receivers in the game, but it seems like, at times, he’s been an afterthought this season with the Cardinals. He’s caught 79 passes this season for 1,012 yards and five touchdowns – numbers that are not Fitzgerald-like – while taking passes from three different QBs, including two rookie QBs (Skelton and Max Hall). Fitzgerald probably wistfully longs for Kurt Warner, but those days are gone. And his team is 5-10 and will not sniff the postseason.

But there was that smile as he ran off the field. You think there are many top-flight receivers in the game who would be so joyful after basically being ignored all game? Not many who would take it as well as Fitzgerald.

“You could just tell," Cardinals quarterback John Skelton told reporters, including the Arizona Republic. "He was getting pretty frustrated. You see the guy, been around him, you know. But he didn't get down on himself or the team."

Before Saturday, Fitzgerald had caught at least two passes in 97-straight games. That streak is over (though now he’s caught at least one pass in 98-straight games (though that's not quite as impressive, is it?)).

“If you would have caught me about four years ago, I might have been pouting on the sidelines," Fitzgerald said. "There just (weren't) many opportunities today. It goes like that sometimes. But you have to stay encouraged, you have to fight. That's part of being a professional."

His teammates – and Cardinals fans – should appreciate that. That trait isn't always present in wide receivers of his quality.

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Posted on: December 7, 2010 2:30 pm
Edited on: December 7, 2010 2:34 pm
 

Max Hall to IR, John Skelton to start for Cards

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

The Cardinals have placed rookie QB Max Hall on the IR list with a dislocated shoulder, and rookie John Skelton – who coach Ken Whisenhunt basically has said is not ready to play NFL football – likely will get the start, according to the Arizona Republic.

And Skelton sounds pretty pleased about the opportunity.

“I'm pretty excited about it,” he told the paper. “I've been preparing for it for a while now. It's unfortunate having two guys (Derek Anderson with a concussion and Hall) go down in front of me, but at the same time, it's an opportunity.”

If you’ve never heard of Skelton, you’re not alone. He played his college ball at Fordham, and until the fourth quarter last week, he hadn’t stepped foot on the field. And now, what do you know, he’s an NFL starting quarterback.

“I kind of anticipated it coming, but it's nice having your name called and have something happen that you always waited for, and to have it come true,” he said.

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Posted on: November 30, 2010 4:55 pm
 

Anderson to remain starter in Arizona

Posted by Will Brinson

Derek Anderson had a little bit to say following Arizona's Monday night loss after being asked why he was smiling in the middle of a blowout.

On Tuesday, though, coach Ken Wisenhunt stuck for both he and Deuce Lutui, at whom Anderson was smiling.

"Those guys have worked hard, they want to win," Wisenhunt said, via the Arizona Republic. "I'm not going to read too much into a couple of seconds of what you see on video. I'm going to base it on what I know about those guys and their demeanor and their approach."

That's a pretty fair assessment -- even if Anderson did FLIP OUT and scream at Kent Somers, it's not like smiling on the football field, even amid a nasty public beatdown, is worth cutting someone and moving on, provided they're at least trying.

Anyway, some good news: Anderson's shoddy performance Monday (15/35, 196 yards, no TDs, one pick) won't cost him his job according to Coach Ken Wisenhunt on Tuesday.

Wisenhunt indicated that Anderson gives the Cardinals the "best chance to win" and while that's debatable given his level of play, it's at least excusable because the other options involve throwing either John Skelton or Max Hall under the bus.

The Cardinals are probably out of contention (though not technically) and risking the development of those guys when Anderson's available just seems like a silly proposition. So in good news -- five more weeks of really awkward postgame interviews!

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Posted on: November 18, 2010 12:02 am
 

Dey Took Er Jobs: Did We Really Doubt Mike Vick?

Posted by Will Brinson

Dey Took Er Jobs takes a look at the various job controversies around the league. If you don't get the title, you don't watch enough South Park . This week: Where have all the job controversies gone? No, but seriously, we're all locked in! Also, Vick talk, because it's Vick Week. And who's on the hot seat?

It's fairly bizarre that for at least say, oh, five weeks we wondered whether or not Michael Vick should be the starter for the Eagles.

Well not so much wondered but at least kind of debated. Well, okay, after we saw how Vick played against Detroit and Jacksonville there wasn't a debate, but Kevin Kolb's performance against Atlanta and his strong effort while Vick was sidelined at least had people thinking twice.

Speaking of thinking twice, remember when Andy Reid decided to go with Vick and we all got all RABBLE-RABBLE! on him for not being man enough to make up his mind?

Yeah, we should probably all apologize for that, because he ended up being 100 percent correct in his decision making, which culminated in Week 10's fantasy point explosion where Vick piled up 413 yards and four touchdowns via the air and ground. (And really, it's kind of criminal that he didn't win both the FedEx awards this week.)

Reid's decision making also includes signing Vick in the first place, prepping him to be a better pocket passer, and putting him in situations to succeed (even if sometimes those situations have fans of football screaming "STOP LETTING HIM TAKE HITS TO THE RIBS, BIG GUY!").

At the end of the year, if the franchise tag survives the new CBA, Vick's likely to get tagged, which may be why the two sides have yet to discuss an extension. Mike Florio of PFT cites a source who says that Vick's contract/extension value is lower than one might think (relative to the market value of the guy he whipped on Monday, Donovan McNabb, who just got a pretty big deal) unless the Eagles can get some sort of assurances that Vick won't get in trouble. In fact, one of the sources points out that "all he has to do is breathe in the wrong direction and he will be suspended for life." Obviously that's a bit of hyperbole (after all, Vick survived his birthday party that wasn't exactly a Sweet 16), but not that much -- he's about to go from one of the greatest second-chance stories of all-time right back to super-popular, rich mega-bajillionaire.

His current humility and attitude towards life sure seems like it can survive that temptations that come along with that, but in the same way that Reid showed some good faith in Vick, well, the quarterback should reciprocate towards Philadelphia, even if it means taking less money than he could get elsewhere.

Reid's talents for offensive scheming fit Vick's talents for offensive performance, and there's no reason to mess with a good thing. Not saying he should completely cave on contract demands (this is a business after all) and not saying the Eagles should put all their eggs in one basket, particularly one with a history of not always holding up, but this is a pretty good marriage right now, and everyone involved would be wise to let it keep rolling.

****
Elsewhere in the NFL, well, man, there ain't a whole lot of job issues anymore. We can start in Carolina (per usual), but at this point we're debating the semantics between Brian St. Pierre and Tony Pike, which is like debating between, um Mike Goodson and Tyrelle Sutton.

Actually, no it's not, because Sutton, along with Jonathan Stewart, aren't likely to play this week. Which leaves Goodson and whatever poor soul the Panthers have to start at quarterback against a Ravens defense that is suddenly enraged at being called "not elite." Should be good times!

Arizona's "solved" their quarterback problems the same way Seattle has -- by default. It just makes more sense to roll with Derek Anderson and Matt Hasselebeck at this point, rather than go with the alternative, which involves a rookie and Jesus Beard, respectively.

****
Troy Smith appears to have solved the problems in San Francisco (yes, those problems were "losing" coupled with "crappy quarterback play") and, as we mentioned last week, why wouldn't he? Well, except for that ridiculous "week-to-week" tag that Mike Singletary hit him with; that's insulting to Troy and the team and anyone who's ever seen Alex Smith or David Carr lose games.

People lamented his height as a reason for not having quarterback success in the NFL, but that's a poor excuse when the talent is there. And, frankly, probably an indicator of why talent evaluation misses so badly sometimes.

****
Even the Dolphins, who just lost TWO quarterbacks in the last week, aren't a debatable team, because there's Tyler Thigpen, who's had some decent success in Kansas City, and there's Patrick Ramsey, who has a resume with enough teams on it that even Todd Bouman cringes when he reads it.

So …

****
Pants on Fire (Because, you see, it's a hot seat)

- Brad Childress: Once Brett Favre's lost all hope, there's no reason to continue believing that you've got a job as a head coach. Even more telling of Chilly's future is that he didn't know about Favre's "shoulder injury," which should probably be indicative of his status after this year. Frankly, the team's absolutely foolish not to give Leslie Frazier a chance right now.

- John Fox: He's as good as gone at this point, but give him credit for this -- he 100 percent has not lost the Panthers in terms of the team believing him. You can see it from those guys that they buy into what he's saying, even at 1-8, and that's perhaps the best possible endorsement one can give the coach of the worst team in football.

- Marvin Lewis: Donovan McNabb is making fun of his team's record. If you watched Monday night, you know Donovan shouldn't be making fun of anyone. So, yeah …

- Gary Kubiak: He got an endorsement from the owner, which is always considered a good thing, except it always ends in someone getting fired. Still, considering how terrible his defense is, maybe he should be getting credit for the fact that the Texans are 4-5.

- UMM, seriously, what happened? There were at least 15 guys on the hot seat a week ago. Now all of a sudden Wade Phillips gets fired, Jacksonville's a winner again, Lovie Smith is getting freebies from Chilly and everyone's either being coached by a new regime or a guy who's quickly reviving the team (yes, we're even lumping Mike Singletary there, but . NO GOOD PEOPLE. WE WANT MORE FIRINGS.

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Posted on: November 4, 2010 3:06 pm
Edited on: November 4, 2010 3:31 pm
 

Dey Took Er Jobs: We Talking About Stamina

Posted by Will Brinson

On Sunday, Mike Shanahan inexplicably pulled Donovan McNabb in favor of Rex Grossman. Were it not for Randy Moss and Brad Childress, that's all anyone would have talked about Monday and Tuesday.

To counter said distraction, Shanahan and the Redskins brought in Jamarcus Russell for a tryout.

As much as all of that reads like an Onion Sports story, it's the truth, folks -- and as such we have some sort of a quarterback controversy going down with the 4-4 Redskins.

Well, perhaps "controversy" is too strong a word. After all, Grossman isn't as good as McNabb, and Russell, who weighed in at 286 pounds, might have trouble making a Lingerie Football League team. (Actually, he might have an easier time getting on an NFL squad than that, but you see the point.)

The hemming and hawing of Shanny was the worst of it all -- he originally claimed that Grossman was better at running the two-minute offense (clearly a) a lie and b) patently wrong) and then decided that McNabb wasn't in good enough shape to stay on the field.

Regardless of why, Kyle Shanahan (yes, son of Mike) protege Grossman entered the game and immediately guaranteed the Lions a win with a fumble-turned-touchdown.

We understand now that there are locker room issues with Washington (I mean, duh, right?) thanks to Shanahan's decision, and that while he certainly doesn't have the problems of the aforementioned Childress, he's getting dangerously close to blowing up a Washington season that once had promise.

Will Grossman start for the Redskins the rest of the way home? We can only hope so -- after all, that means when the Vikings sign McNabb next year, Leslie Frazier will finally get the respect he deserves.

Whatever, that's a lot of projection, but is it really worth discussing whether or not Grossman should replace McNabb in the starting lineup? Of course it's not -- if the possibility of David Carr replacing Alex Smith in San Francisco a mind-boggling mishap of mediocrity (and it was, as I said and then we saw) then this is just a slap in the face to common sense.

Most coaches go out of their way to avoid quarterbacks controversies like these -- somehow, Mike Shanahan has managed to invite one, while also insulting his veteran leader and the only talented quarterback on the roster.

No amount of humiliation-based motivation is worth the obvious downside to this. And swapping out McNabb for Grossman at this stage would just be proof that Shanny had his brain surgically replaced with Dan Snyder's.

****


Speaking of the 49ers, Troy Smith did a pretty good job of making sure that David Carr won't be seeing the field as a starter (there are always injuries, and he'll seemingly always get a job based on just potential, sigh) any time soon.

But what happens when Alex Smith returns in a few weeks? At that point, Troy will have had multiple weeks with reps as the starter and possibly even more wins than Alex, in many less tries.

It's not like we're discussing someone off the street either -- Troy has the credentials to a degree (the Heisman Trophy has to be worth something, right???) and reasonable stats when he started. His accuracy isn't as good percentage wise as Alex, but he doesn't cough the ball up as much, and San Fran is very much a Frank Gore-based team.

Just saying we shouldn't be so quick to roll right back to Alex just because he was the top pick a few years ago.

****
Matt Moore and Derek Anderson will continue getting the nod -- both moves are the smart play, in reasonably similar situations -- both teams are equal at -65 in point differential, both have star wide receivers, both have a talented pair of running backs that are underperforming, both teams have rookie quarterbacks they believe to be the future, etc., etc. The only difference is that the Cardinals are in a crappy division. And given the way Jimmy Clausen and Max Hall have played, which is to say, "not good," it behooves both coaches to allow their youngsters to develop on the bench and learn while watching for a little while.

****
Pants on Fire (Hot Seat Watch)

- Brad Childress: If I fired Andy right now, no one would notice or care, but the bosses would probably say "um, why did you do that without telling us?" and then fire me too. (Just kidding, I don't have hiring/firing power. And if anything, I'm the Randy Moss of the group. You should see what happens when my coffee isn't premium brand.) Thin ice for Chilly.

- John Fox: Someone asked Sean Payton if he would be willing to hire Fox as an assistant next year, even though Fox still has a job (technically). That's an indication of something, insomuch as 1-6 is at least.

- Wade Phillips: At some point, the awkwardness of Wade's eventual firing will wear off. Thank goodness he doesn't have a primetime game this week!

- Jack Del Rio: Betting against Del Rio when his job is on the line is like betting against Michael Jordan these days. Still, the Jags are going to be hard pressed to make the playoffs in that division with that talent and you have to think Wayne Weaver will at least explore something new once the CBA gets sorted out.

- Mike Singletary: The bright side of eventually losing the NFC West race to the Seahawks and Rams is that he'll be immediately employed as a six figure motivational speaker.

- Marvin Lewis: No one's really talking about Lewis' job being in jeopardy because it's too easy to place blame on Carson Palmer for stinking. But there's a lot of talent on this team and they're underachieving badly.

- Josh McDaniels: The biggest problem for Pat Bowlen is that admitting he messed up with McDaniels is about as fun as Mike Shanahan admitting he messed up with Grossman. Which is like full circle or something, man.

- Norv Turner: A win against the Texans on the road would go a long way towards keeping Norvell safe, particularly with divisional games coming up and Vincent Jackson returning. He should also give Philip Rivers 10 percent of his paycheck for winning games with a receiving corps only outflanked in mediocrity by the Bolts' special teams.

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Posted on: November 2, 2010 3:29 pm
 

Top Ten With a Twist: New Faces

L. Tomlinson has been one of the most impressive players in the NFL this season (Getty).

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Some arrived via free agency. Some were left on the garbage pile and only had one or two teams show interest. Some didn’t have much of a choice if they wanted to continue playing NFL football. And some were highly-touted rookies who commanded humongous signing bonuses and who have lived up to their end of the bargain.

Today, we spotlight the top-10 players who are performing brilliantly in their first year with a new team. We’re talking about rookies, we’re talking about free agents, we’re talking about those whose careers were left for dead.

All of the following have impacted their new teams in many ways and all have made the front offices who signed them seem clairvoyant in the process (though, in the case of a couple players, the decision to add them wasn’t exactly brain surgery). So, here’s to those who have found a new lease on life (or a new burgeoning career) with their new team.

10. Jason Babin, DE, Titans: The career-high sack total for Babin, a seven-year veteran, was five coming into this season – set in 2006 while in Houston. This year, through eight games, he’s got seven. So, what happened this season, especially after recording just 16 tackles and 2.5 sacks last year with the Eagles? According to Babin, it’s just been a matter of getting more playing time. OK, if you say so.

9. Colt McCoy, QB, Browns: Aside from any rookie QB not named Sam Bradford, McCoy has done pretty darn well as a first-year signal-caller. He’s only played the past two games for Cleveland, but he’s hitting 63.5 percent of his passes for a touchdown, two picks and a QB rating of 76.5. OK, he’s not great, but he’s been light years ahead of Jimmy Clausen and Max Hall. Plus, he’s coming off a win against the Saints.

8. Terrell Owens, WR, Bengals: You still have to take the good with the bad when it comes to Owens. He’s the kind of player who, often times, doesn’t put out special effort to knock down a bad pass so the opponent doesn’t pick it (this happened at least twice last week), but he’s also still the kind of player who can rack up a team-leading 45 catches for 629 yards and five touchdowns. Ultimately, it was probably the right move for Cincinnati to sign him. In three weeks, though, that might not be the case.

7. Maurkice Pouncey, C, Steelers: Pittsburgh’s first-round pick beat out Justin Hartwig at the beginning of the season for the starting center role, and Pouncey has performed well thus far. He’s really helped glue together a Steelers offensive line that had major questions raised about it coming into the season.N. Suh has begun to dominate the opponent's offensive line for Detroit (Getty).

6. Dez Bryant, WR/PR, Cowboys: One of the bright spots in Dallas this year. We knew Bryant was going to be a good one, and he has not disappointed, catching 29 passes for 349 yards for three touchdowns (Roy Williams, by the way, is 22 for 327 and five, respectively). But he’s been downright electric while fielding kicks, returning two punts for touchdowns and averaging 16.5 yards per punt, second in the NFL for those who have at least 10 returns.

5. Thomas Jones/Ryan Torain/Peyton Hillis, RBs, Chiefs/Redskins/Browns: Yes, I’m cheating a bit here, listing three players in one spot, but that doesn’t take away from how well these guys have played – and how unexpected their production has been. The Jets figured they didn’t need Jones any more, but he’s rushed for 538 yards through seven games with the Chiefs. Torain has replaced Clinton Portis pretty well, and Hillis (460 yards, five touchdowns) has been the biggest surprise at all (he certainly has surprised Denver coach Josh McDaniels, who let go of Hillis after last season).

4. Brandon Marshall, WR, Dolphins: Marshall has typical diva receiver tendencies, but he’s been one of the best players in the league so far this season. After Marshall was traded away from Denver (ahem, McDaniels), he’s done nothing but produce in Miami, ranking fourth in the league with 47 catches for 588 yards. The one disappointing stat: he’s only recorded one touchdown.

3. Earl Thomas (Seahawks)/T.J. Ward/Ndamukong Suh, S/S/DT, Seahawks/Browns/Lion: Sigh, again I’m cheating. But considering all these first-year players are vying for defensive rookie of the year honors, it makes sense to lump them all together. Thomas has proven that he’s one of the most instinctual players in the league with four interceptions, tied for third-best in the NFL. Ward took some heat for the nasty hit he put on Cincinnati’s Jordan Shipley, but his big-hit ability has helped lead him to 60 tackles (fourth-most among safeties). And Suh is living up to his lofty billing, blowing up interior offensive linemen and recording 6.5 sacks. He’s going to be a monster for as long as he steps on the field.

2. Sam Bradford, QB, Rams: I’m not sure most of us could have expected Bradford, the No. 1 pick from last year’s Draft, to play so well a mere eight games into this pro career. He’s completed 58.6 percent of his passes for 1,674 yards, 11 touchdowns and eight interceptions. The numbers don’t look fantastic, but you have to take into account his poise and his savvy and the fact he doesn’t have a big-name receiver upon whom he can lean. Plus, he’s got the Rams, one of the worst NFL teams coming into the season, at the 4-4 mark. He has been pretty outstanding. Not bad considering he missed most of last year at Oklahoma with the shoulder injury.

1. LaDainian Tomlinson, RB, Jets: Somehow, Tomlinson has found the fountain of youth. It wasn’t in San Diego apparently. Perhaps it was in New Jersey the whole time. On the season, Tomlinson has gained 544 yards and five touchdowns and has taken Shonn Greene’s job away from him. He has been perhaps the most surprising player in the league this year. He’s definitely been the No. 1 new face.

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