Archive for Arizona Cardinals

Matt Leinart: It wasn’t in the Cards

Posted in NCAA Football, NFL with tags , , , , , , , , , on September 4, 2010 by nathanelwell

Matt Leinart, supreme stud of the USC campus, and eternal back-up of the Arizona Cardinals, was released by Arizona on Saturday.  Not a shocker, as far as I’m concerned.  Leinart never seemed to sit well with Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt.  “I think that in the end we both agreed this was probably the best thing for him, to have a fresh start” said Whisenhunt.  Leinart’s history with the Cardinals has been a rocky one, to say the least.  His social life was often scrutinized more than his contributions to the NFL.  Beer bongs, playmates, parties, and a pregnancy were headlines instead of wins, touchdowns, and playoffs.  But to be fair to Leinart, several other NFL athletes have had over-publicized social lives only to excel on the football field.  So why don’t we look at Leinart’s career statistics in Arizona to see if the Cardinals were justified in releasing him.

Matt Leinart was selected 10th overall in the 2006 NFL draft.  At the time, this was considered a steal.  After a contract holdout, Leinart became the starter for the Cardinals over veteran Kurt Warner.  He ended the 2006 season with 2,547 yards and 11 touchdowns., but had a 4-7 record as the starter.  In 2007, Leinart’s season was cut short due to a broken collarbone.  He only started in 5 games, throwing for 647 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 4 interceptions.  His career numbers are nothing to write home about – 3893 yards, 14 touchdowns, 20 interceptions, 29 sacks.  For being in the league 4 years, these numbers are mediocre, for a QB drafted at the front end of the 1st round.  Steve Clarkson, who is considered a “private quarterback guru and friend” to Matt Leinart, said “when you enter the league with a certain perception, people will continue to believe that perception no matter what you do…its unfortunate.”  Or more simply put, “perception is reality”.

So where does Matt Leinart go to next?  The most media-tantalizing location would be Seattle, where Leinart would team up with rookie head coach Pete Carroll.  But before you USC fans quiver with anticipation, the Seahawks say they see no need for Leinart.  Another rumor was that the NY Giants may consider Leinart to be a back-up behind Eli Manning.  This rumor was quickly extinguished when the Giants picked up Sage Rosenfels from the Vikings.  What option is he left with?  I vote on a reality tv show.  Wasn’t it the fourth season that Leinart was the Bachelor?  Oh wait, nevermind.  That was Bob Guiney.

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Playoff Weekend

Posted in NFL with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 10, 2009 by nathanelwell

ravens1 vs. titans cardinals1 vs. panthers

eagles1 vs. giants chargers1 vs. steelers

Last week, probably one of the funniest articles on the accurate www.theonion.com was published.  For those of you that haven’t read the onion, it provides hours of chuckling with mock articles of varying degree such as: “American Airlines Now Charging Fees for Non Passengers” and “$700 Billion Bailout Celebrated with Lavish $800 Billion executive party“.  So I couldn’t help practically losing my lunch laughing when I read this week: “LaDanian Tomlinson to Play Next Week Without a Groin“.  With humor and satire, The Onion actually chose a title that draws some truth.  Although LT won’t be playing without a groin, there is some doubt that he’ll be playing at all.  Lets mow through this weeks matchups and predict who the winners and losers will be (ahem, last weekend I was 2-2 with the exact score guessed correctly in the Falcons/Cardinals matchup!!)

Ravens vs. Titans

The Ravens destroyed the Dolphins last week, thanks to their defense forcing 4 Pennington interceptions and 2 fumbles (1 recovered).  Look for the Ravens to do more of the same this week against the overrated Titans.  The Titans eeked out a win against the Ravens in the regular season, but the Ravens held Chris Johnson to 44 rushing yards.  I’m predicting that the Ravens will come up big yet again, and will stifle the Titan’s run offense.  There are only so many 150 yard passing games that Kerry Collins can pull off before it is too good to be true.

Final Score: Ravens 24 – Titans 17

Cardinals vs. Panthers

This matchup will feature two veteran QBs who have both appeared in the Super Bowl (Kurt Warner won, Jake Delhomme did not).  Look for there to be some major fireworks.  The Panthers will most certainly use their running game in DeAngelo Williams, but have receivers Steve Smith and Muhsin Muhammed to go deep.  Kurt Warner will use his experience to go to Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin frequently (as long as Boldin’s hammy holds up).  The Cardinals are only 2-6 against the Panthers but lets face it, The Cards traditionally suck and haven’t had a team like this before.  I would like to see the Cardinals win, but my gut tells me that the Panthers will pull out the victory.

Final Score: Panthers 34 – Cardinals 23

Eagles vs. Giants

In perhaps the most exciting matchup in this year’s playoffs, so the Eagles will travel to the Meadowlands to face the defending Super Bowl Champions.  The Eagles are running on adrenaline, after miraculously making it into the playoffs, and stunning the Vikings at home last week.  The Eagles handed the Giants one of their 4 losses this year, and the Giants only barely scratched out a win against the Eagles in week 6.  The Giants are without Plaxico Burress (whoops) and will have to rely on other options.  Eli has had time to rest, but is it too long?  We will see.  I’m going to predict an upset.

Final Score: Eagles 23 – Giants 20

Chargers vs. Steelers

And here we come to the subject of the onion article above.  Will LT play or wont he?  Who really cares?  I doubt he would be much of a factor anyways.  With last weeks performance from Darren Sproles, we may need to go from LT to DS.  With 328 total yards and 2 touchdowns last week, Sproles left the Colt defense in the dust (and put LT in a cold sweat).  I salivate when I think about “what might have been” if Turner had stayed with the Chargers.  Could you imagine a Turner/Sproles combo?  Who would have thunk it.  And we have Big Ben.  His concussion 2 weeks ago could be a factor this weekend, although he has had time to rest.  The Steelers held off the Chargers in an 11-10 bore in regular season.  How will the Chargers fare this week?  I’m convinced that Philip Rivers will be at his finest, and has plenty of ammunition to work with.  The Chargers will keep it close, and will end up pulling out the victory at the end of the game.

Final Score: Chargers 30 – Steelers 27

Now go watch some football!

NFL Playoffs features birds of all kinds

Posted in 1, NFL with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 3, 2009 by nathanelwell

falconsvs.   cardinals coltsvs.  chargers

ravensvs. dolphins eagles vs. vikings

In the words of our pot smoking friend Dave Matthews, “This is the Last Stop” in our NFL season. On Saturday, the first two games of this year’s playoffs will begin  by showcasing the Falcons vs. Cardinals, and Colts vs. Chargers.  On Sunday it’ll be the Eagles vs. Vikings and Ravens vs. Dolphins. There is a lot of irony in the first round of match-ups. Let’s start by the fact that the combined win-loss record of all  of this weekend’s 8 playoff teams last year was an unimpressive 58-70.  Two teams (Falcons and Dolphins) won a combined 5 games.  Only 2 of the 8 teams actually had a winning record in 2007.  This year, things have changed for the better.  The combined win-loss record of the 8 teams is 81-46 (and 1 tie by the Eagles).  The Falcons and Dolphins combined for 23 wins, which is more than 4x greater than last season (with 2 new head coaches and starting QBs, this is not surprising).  Another startling fact is that 2 of the 8 Quarterbacks are rookies (Matt Ryan of the Falcons and Joe Flacco of the Ravens).  Now lets look at the individual match-ups, and I’ll make predictions on the outcome (disclaimer: If you should bet on any game based on my predictions and lose, too bad.)

Atlanta Falcons vs. Arizona Cardinals

We are looking at two teams that haven’t been in the playoffs for quite some time (3 years for the Falcons, 9 years for the Cardinals).  They have never faced each other in the playoffs, and the Cardinals have a 14-10 record against the Falcons in regular season history.  This past season, the Cardinals had a 6-2 record at home while the Falcons had a 4-4 record away.  In the postseason, the Cardinals have a 2-5 record with 1 championship, and the Falcons have a 6-8 record with a Super Bowl appearance but no ring.   The Cardinals have 2 powerhouse receivers in Boldin and Fitzgerald, plus a Super Bowl winning quarterback in Kurt Warner.  The Falcons have arguably one of the best rushers in the NFL in Michael Turner, and the Offensive Rookie of the Year quarterback Matt Ryan.

In my opinion, the offensive power of the Cardinals plus the home crowd starving for a playoff game will be too much to handle for the Falcons.

The final score: Cardinals 30 – Falcons 24 (sorry other Nate!)

Indianapolis Colts vs. San Diego Chargers

We go from 2 inexperienced playoff teams to 2 veteran playoff teams in the Colts-Chargers.  Look for an exciting game full of offensive explosiveness, with two of the weakest defenses out of the 12 playoff teams.  The Colts have a 9 game winning streak, Peyton Manning won his 3rd league MVP, and lets not even talk about all the options Manning has to pass to (Wayne, Harrison, Gonzalez, Clark).  Manning will undoubtedly use Dallas Clark, who was the #1 tight end receiver in the NFL this year (up for debate, but not really).  This will keep the Charger’s secondary on their heels, with too many options for Manning to choose from.  The Colts have a 17-17 record in the playoffs with 4 championships/super bowls under their belt.  They have faced the Chargers twice in the playoffs with a 1-1 record (they lost last year at home).  Their regular season record against the Chargers is 9-14.  The Chargers have Philip Rivers, LT, Antonio Gates, and Vincent Jackson.  Their playoff record is 9-14, and they have 1 championship/superbowl to be proud of.  The Chargers ended the regular season with a 4 game winning streak, and beat incredible odds after being behind by 3 games in their division with 3 games to go.  (ahem….cough….choke….BRONCOS).  So needless to say, both teams have the momentum going into the playoffs.  The Chargers have home field advantage, and the Colts probably have the playoff experience.

In my opinion, the Colts will end up victorious in this classic playoff match-up

The final score: Colts 38 – Chargers 23

Baltimore Ravens vs. Miami Dolphins

First of all, let me say to pretty boy Jason Taylor: Sucks to be you!  I wish you were still a Dolphin.  Whoever predicted these two teams to face each other in the playoffs this year are crazy.  “Why?” You should ask?  Both teams had losing records last year (combined 6 wins between both teams), both teams fired their head coaches, and now have 2 different starting quarterbacks, one of which is a rookie (Joe Flacco).  Last year, the Dolphins defeated the Ravens in the last regular season game for the Dolphins 1st win of 2007.  So all that to say, the Dolphins could repeat this feat, but only to advance to the next round of the playoffs.  For the Ravens we have one of the best defenses of the league (#3 in the league in opponents points, #2 for total yards, and #1 for opponent first downs).  My guess would be that the game could be low scoring.  Joe Flacco passed for just under 3000 yards in 2008, with 17 touchdowns.  Le’Ron McClain was their top rusher at 902 yards for the season, and Derrick Mason their top receiver with just over 1000 yards receiving.  Bottom line is the Ravens had one of the better rush offenses in the league, but one of the worst passing offenses in the league.  They’ll probably win the game if they succeed on the rushing attack (ahem, are you paying attention, Dolphins?).  And what about Chad Pennington, QB for the Dolphins?  Ironic that he should beat the team that gave him the boot for the AFC East crown AND a playoff spot (sorry Favre, you should have retired).  With a better than average rush and pass offense, the Dolphins should put up a pretty good fight.  Cracking the Raven defense will be the key.  And patience for Pennington will be important, as the Ravens lead the league in interceptions.  Look for Pennington to choose a wide variety of receivers (Cobbs, Ginn Jr., Camarillo, Bess), and to hand the ball off to both Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams.  The Dolphins have 20 playoff victories and 2 Super Bowl rings, while the Ravens have 5 playoff victories and 1 Super Bowl ring.

I’m going for the Dolphins, as they have a much more consistent offense than the Ravens.  If the Ravens had a more consistent passing game I may change my mind.

The final score: Dolphins 24 – Ravens 13

Philadelphia Eagles vs. Minnesota Vikings

This will be an exciting game for two teams whose playoff hopes went down to the last regular season game.  There will be a single deciding factor in this entire game: Adrian Peterson.  Will he show up with steady hands or butterfingers?  Peterson fumbled the ball 9 times this year.  This will be the key for a Vikings offense that ranked #25 in the league (the Lions were even better than the Vikings).  Look for Tarvaris Jackson to throw to Berrian, Wade, and Shiancoe.  Look for Donovan McNabb to come through in the clutch as he has in so many playoff games past.  With Brian Westbrook, DeSean Jackson, and nearly 7 other eligible receivers, McNabb will use a variety of offensive plays for sure.     With the #6 offense and the #4 defense in the league, look for the Eagles to stop Peterson dead in his tracks.

The final score: Eagles 26 – Vikings 20

So in summary:

The winners: Cardinals, Colts, Dolphins, Eagles

The losers: Falcons, Chargers, Ravens, Vikings

Enjoy watching the game, for those few souls who survived my torturous post.

Rise of the Cardinals

Posted in NFL with tags , , , , , , on November 12, 2008 by nathanelwell

Who could forget this moment in sports?  On October 16th 2006, the Chicago Bears were down 20-0 against the Arizona Cardinals at the University of Phoenix Stadium.  This was after 6 turnovers by Rex Grossman.  The Bears were down 23-3 while the clock was winding down in the 3rd Quarter.  They somehow stripped the ball of Cardinal QB Matt Leinart, and ran it back for a touchdown – 23-10.  With 5 minutes left to go in the 4th Quarter, the Bears stripped the ball AGAIN from the Cardinals, and ran it back for a touchdown 23-17.  Then, with 2:58 left to play, Devin Hester the kick return genie ran back a punt 84 yards for another touchdown 24-23.  And the Cardinals missed a 41 yard field goal with under a minute to play to blow a 20 point lead and lose the game.  The most amazing football game I have ever seen.  What did Cardinals coach Dennis Green have to say?  You have certainly seen the video below:

And that sums up the entire franchise history of the Arizona Cardinals.  Did you know that the Arizona Cardinals are the oldest operating professional football team in the U.S.?  And did you know that they have only won a single playoff game in only five appearances?  And only 2 winning seasons since 1984?  After the 2006 loss to the Bears, coach Dennis Green eventually was fired, the Cardinals finished the season 5-11.  Thngs seemed to have hit rock bottom after 2006.  Then, they hired Ken Whisenhunt, play-calling master of the Pittsburgh Steelers.  Whisenhunt orchestrated the 2005 Super Bowl Steelers Offensive play-calling and was sure to make a “bang” when he went over to the Cardinals.

Probably the smartest move Whisenhunt did was benching Matt Leinart in favor of veteran Kurt Warner.  While Leinart was busy beer bonging and having a loose zipper, Whisenhunt put in the clean-cut Warner to turn the team around.  And how has Warner done this year?  Week 2: 361 yards.  Week 4: 472 yards.  Week 8: 381 yards.  Week 10: 328 yards.  As of right now, Warner is projected to have the best QB rating since his 1999 season with the Rams.  So all that to say, the Cardinals are pretty darn good.  So good in fact that they are 6-3 and are blowing the rest of the NFC West Division out of the water.  The Cards remainder of season schedule is moderate, and we should see them playing in the playoffs for the first time in awhile.

The 2008 NFL Season needed a team for the media to get hyped about.  The Patriots fizzled out when Tom Brady got hurt in the 1st Quarter of the 1st game.  The Seahawks have shown zero momentum and have bored the city of Seattle into a stupor.  The Cowboys have started to take a dive after losing Romo to injury.  But right now, I believe that the Arizona Cardinals are the most exciting team to watch in the NFL.  Yes, they even beat out Brett Favre’s Jets and Chad Pennington’s Dolphins.  But probably the most entertaining part of the Cardinals is that their coach looks like Woody Harrelson.  Who wouldnt win with a coach that looks like him?

72986006ND001_Arizona_Cardi woody-harrelson-sag-280x4001