9-16-11: Arizona Cardinals Bird Droppings - Fixing The Defense

Time for another day of links as we go into the weekend, today mostly looks at some of the defensive issues that need to be worked out, and the possiblitiy of D-Wash playing on Sunday.

On an unrelated note, I was at the Big Red Rage last night, and I was able to get autographs from Rhodes and Peterson. I am pleased by this.

Arizona Cardinals News:

Horton Bounces Back
Notebook: Defensive coordinator seeks patience with young CBs

Tight End Renaissance
First game from King, Heap shows improvement at position

Word From the Birds Blog - "HEEEEEAAAAPPPP"
I have to admit that in a small way, I was startled up at training camp during the Red-White practice when new tight end Todd Heap made his first catch in the scrimmage-like workout. Heap is from Arizona, having grown up in Mesa, playing at Mesa Mountain View High School and then Arizona State. His fan base is wide and hasn’t shrunk even though the first 10 years of his NFL career were played in Baltimore. I knew that. Still, Heap made the reception, and, as he ran upfield, the crowd of about 13,000 let out a deep-throated collective "HEEEEAAAAPPP" call. I guess I should have expected it again Sunday at University of Phoenix Stadium, when the crowd was about five times bigger. Heap made the first of two 20-yard catches, and when he grabbed it and turned to run, there it was again, echoing from the fans. "HEEEEAAAAPPP"

Arizona Cardinals holding out hope Daryl Washington will play against Washington Redskins
In every successful player's career, there comes a time when he will have to play on Sunday despite missing significant practice time during the week. Is Cardinals inside linebacker Daryl Washington at the point? We might find out Sunday. Washington hasn't practiced this week after suffering a strained right calf in the season opener against the Panthers. The Cardinals are holding out hope that Washington can play, and a decision might not be made until Sunday.

Arizona Cardinals look to step up defensively against Washington Redskins
Ray Horton spent 17 years working his way up the coaching ladder to a defensive coordinator position. So, no, having his unit yield 477 total yards to a team led by a rookie quarterback is not the first impression he dreamed of making. "It was very difficult," said Horton, hired by the Cardinals last February. "I had expectations for us." He still does, and fortunately for Horton and the Cardinals, they beat the Panthers 28-21. Cardinals defensive players bounced back quickly from their poor performance, while on Thursday, Horton admitted he was just putting it behind him.

Re-Focused - Panthers @ Cardinals, Week 1 | ProFootballFocus.com
Two teams that struggled badly in 2010 really stepped up to the plate in the opening game of the 2011 season and showed signs that this season could bring better things. At times in 2010 both the Cardinals and the Panthers looked atrocious and in need of a major overhaul, but both sides have made changes in the off-season and showed that they were ready to play. There were impressive debuts on both sides as well as some welcome returns to fine form. Only one side could win obviously and the Cardinals got the job done in the home opener, however both sides have real positives to draw on from this game on both sides of the football. Clearly both sides have things to work on as well and one game between two teams that picked in the top 5 of the NFL draft isn’t enough to draw any firm conclusions, but that they looked capable on both sides of the ball is an early positive to draw for the fans and coaching staffs alike.

Cardinals: Reasons for hope, worry after win vs. Panthers - Photos
Kent Somers takes a look back at the good and the bad during the Arizona Cardinals' 28-21 win over the Carolina Panthers on Sunday.

Cardinals defense going through somewhat-expected struggles - ArizonaSports.com
The Arizona Cardinals defense has been attacked quite a bit this week by both fans and media alike, and if last week is any indication they'll be hard pressed to stop the assault. Harsh? Perhaps, but surrendering 477 yards of offense to a team led by a rookie QB will do that to you. However, head coach Ken Whisenhunt isn't ready to declare his defense a lost cause.

Final Word: NFC West - NFC West Blog - ESPN
Handling the pressure. Only Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers ranked higher than the Arizona Cardinals' Kevin Kolb in NFL passer rating (139.2) when defenses brought at least five pass-rushers in Week 1, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Kolb led the league in QBR (98.7) in these situations among players with at least one pass attempt, completing 6 of 11 passes for 196 yards and two touchdowns. His Washington Redskins counterpart, Rex Grossman, put up solid numbers overall, but his NFL passer rating (70.3) and QBR (13.6) lagged badly against five or more rushers. The Cardinals weren't shy about bringing pressure against Carolina, but they struggled to stop Cam Newton in these situations.

Word From the Birds Blog - Dan Williams ready to plug the middle
You know that defense the Cards ran a few times against Carolina last week, the one in which all 11 defenders — including anyone near the line of scrimmage — stand up, with no one with a hand on the ground? Well, nose tackle Dan Williams is ready for a shot to play it … kind of.

Cardinals looking to improve "comedy of errors" in secondary | ProFootballTalk
The flip side to Cam Newton’s incredible debut? The Cardinals defense didn’t look very good. They couldn’t create pressure without blitzing. (No surprise if you look at the age of their outside linebackers.) The starting cornerback combination of Patrick Peterson and A.J. Jefferson also took their lumps.

Former Redskin Holliday returns to Washington - ArizonaSports.com
There's already been one guarantee made. There won't be a second -- at least, not made by the other player in the trade. "I don't do that. I'm glad he gave us that bulletin board material," Vonnie Holliday said, referring to Tim Hightower's 'we're going to win this game' statement earlier in the week. Holliday added, "We'll put it up. If anybody needs it that's added incentive but I'm not that kind of guy." Holliday and Hightower were dealt for one another near the start of training camp on August 1. In fact, Holliday had already begun practicing with the Redskins before he headed west. And even though he was only in Washington for the 2010 season, he's got fond memories and more importantly, every intention of showing his former team what it gave up.

Cardinals give former Rams wideout Avery a look - ArizonaSports.com
The Cardinals' passing game wasn't lacking explosiveness in the season opener, but that doesn't mean the team is 100 percent content with its group of receivers. According to Aaron Wilson of Scout.com, the team tried out former Ram Donnie Avery Wednesday. A 5-foot-11 speedster, Avery has tallied 100 catches for 1,263 yards and eight touchdowns in two NFL seasons, both with St. Louis. A second round pick out of Houston in 2008, Avery missed the entire 2010 season after suffering a torn ACL in preseason play.

ESPN Insider says Cardinals have most stable QB situation in NFC West - ArizonaSports.com
The NFC West is not exactly a division loaded with top-flight QBs, though it was generally thought that the Rams' Sam Bradford was the best of the bunch. However, after a week where the second year pro completed just 17 of 30 passes for 188 yards and zero touchdowns it seems as if the gap may be closing, through little fault of his own. "I was quite honestly disappointed with the performance of Sam Bradford last week against the Philadelphia Eagles," ESPN NFL analyst Ron Jaworski told Arizona Sports 620's Burns and Gambo.

NFL.com news: Kolb, Cardinals are class of NFC West; Pats 'D' in trouble
Lost in all the excitement over Tom Brady's 517-yard night and Cam Newton's 422-yard debut in Week 1 was another eye-opening performance from a quarterback. With all due respect to the Eagles' acquisition of Nnamdi Asomugha, I thought the most substantial move of the offseason was the Cardinals trading for Kevin Kolb, and he proved why last Sunday.

Word From the Birds Blog - Trusting the pocket
Kevin Kolb’s debut as a Cardinal couldn’t have gone much better — 18-of-27 passing for 309 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. His two scoring throws were impressive both physically — avoiding the blitz to buy time to get the ball to a wide-open Jeff King on the tight end’s 48-yard TD — and mentally — calmly but quickly hitting Early Doucet on an all-out blitz leading to Doucet’s 70-yard catch-and-run. The quarterback is looking to adjust some parts of his game, however. One of them is staying in the pocket longer on certain plays — ironic in a way, since that was the thing everyone wondering if rookie Cam Newton was going to be able to do last week.

azcentral.com blogs - Kent Somers - Seeking clarification on penalties
In almost every NFL game, officials make questionable decisions. And on Monday or Tuesday, almost every NFL coach contacts the league office for clarification on one play or another, or one penalty or another. Ken Whisenhunt did that Monday. He wanted to know why a roughing the passer penalty was called on cornerback Richard Marshall in the second quarter. The penalty was a turning point because it negated an interception by linebacker Daryl Washington. Two plays later, Panthers quarterback Cam Newton completed a 26-yard touchdown pass to Steve Smith that gave Carolina a 14-7 lead at halftime. Whisenhunt also wanted to know why outside linebacker Clark Haggans drew a penalty for roughing the passer in the fourth quarter when his hand hit Newton's helmet. The blow, if you can call it that, appeared inadvertant. Haggans was engaged with a blocker, saw Newton starting to throw and jumped to attempt to block the pass. His hand grazed Newton's helmet. Under new rules emphasis, that type of play was supposed to be legal this year. That call was important, too, because it put the Panthers at the Cardinals 11 with 1:39 remaining.

Video: Kolb and NFC West QB decisions - NFC West Blog - ESPN
Kevin Kolb is the No. 1 variable in the NFC West for the 2011 season. Three teams in the division went into the offseason needing to sign starting quarterbacks. The Arizona Cardinals made a big play for Kolb. The Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers made smaller plays for Tarvaris Jackson and Alex Smith, respectively. Both players were convenient under the circumstances. If Kolb winds up flourishing while Seattle and San Francisco fail to land franchise quarterbacks, the Kolb acquisition in Arizona becomes a bigger storyline for the 49ers and Seahawks. Scrutiny will focus on Arizona if Kolb fails to produce.

Chat wrap: New favorite in NFC West? - NFC West Blog - ESPN
Phil from Connecticut asks whether strength of schedule gives the Cardinals a considerable edge over the Rams in the NFC West. He notes that the Rams have to play the Packers and Saints, while the Cardinals draw the Panthers and Vikings.

Cards Daily: A Familiar Foe in Hightower
Coach Whisenhunt and the Cardinals are very familiar with Redskins running back Tim Hightower. They talk about matching up against their former teammate for the first time when they play Washington on Sunday.

Big Red Rage - Rhodes and Peterson
Kerry Rhodes, Paul Calvisi, and Ron Wolfley welcomed rookie CB Patrick Peterson to the Big Red Rage. Find out what Peterson thought of his first NFL action, including his 89 yard punt return for a touchdown.

Arizona Sports News:

Seattle Storm beat Phoenix Mercury in WNBA playoff opener
Tanisha Wright scored 21 points, and Camille Little had 17 points and 11 rebounds to lead the defending WNBA champion Seattle Storm over the Phoenix Mercury 80-61 on Thursday night in the opener of the Western Conference semifinals.

NFL News:

Group of Denver Broncos fans plan anti-Kyle Orton, pro-Tim Tebow billboards - ESPN
A group of Broncos fans told the Denver Post and USA Today that they plan to purchase billboards in Denver, calling for the team to play Tim Tebow instead of Kyle Orton at quarterback.

Madden NFL 12 Roster Update #3 Details | pastapadre.com
EA Sports has released full details on what to expect in the post-week one roster update for Madden NFL 12. There are over 500 moves made in this update including ratings changes, roster adjustments, injuries, and jersey number fixes. The update is expected out for the Xbox 360 and PS3 on Friday morning.

Bill Belichick Drops F-Bombs On Derrick Mason, Uses 'Scoreboard' Taunt - From Our Editors - SBNation.com
Bill Belichick is just like the everyone else when it comes to taunting an opposing player. The grumpy head coach of the New England Patriots carries an ice-cold exterior, and doesn't take no crap from nobody. And setting him off by taunting him mid-game probably isn't the best idea. But hey, we'll give Derrick Mason props for attempting it.

Tim Tebow thanks fans for support, says he will wait for his turn without complaint - ESPN
Save your bankroll and your breath Tim Tebow fans, the object of your desire and the target of your dislike both agree this is Kyle Orton's offense.

Coming to an NFL stadium near you: "Enhanced" pat downs | ProFootballTalk
Fresh off Sunday night’s taser-fueled fan violence at Metlife Stadium in New Jersey, the NFL will conduct pat downs from the ankles up this season. In the past, the pat downs went from the waist up.

Braylon Edwards claims a bar cost him a $15 million contract - Shutdown Corner - NFL Blog - Yahoo! Sports
Wide receiver Braylon Edwards is playing this year for a contract that guarantees him just $1 million, which doesn't sound like such a bad thing. He claims, though, that one team was ready to give him $15 million guaranteed, but backed out after a bar in Birmingham, Mich., made what were, according to Edwards, "false, misleading, and/or negligent statements."

Qualcomm Stadium server trips, loses $1,000 … and Chargers fans give it all back - Shutdown Corner - NFL Blog - Yahoo! Sports
We have no idea if the San Diego Chargers will go to the Super Bowl this season, but from a sheer class perspective, many of their fans proved to be world champions during the team's preseason contest versus the San Francisco 49ers on Sept. 1.

Tebow thanks fans for support, not sarcastically | ProFootballTalk
Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow has a habit of dealing with critics by thanking them, in a sarcastic way. The saying "‘preciate that" has become his "what you talkin’ bout"-style catch phrase, and he breaks it out whenever someone doubts his abilities. But Tebow is expressing genuine gratitude to fans who plan to buy a billboard advocating his elevation to the starting job. Per the Associated Press, Tebow said he’d rather see them donate the money to his charitable foundation.

Former Ravens CB Chris McAlister Is Broke After $55 Million Extension - From Our Editors - SBNation.com
Former NFL cornerback Chris McAlister left the Baltimore Ravens in 2009 after more than a decade with the team and just five years after signing a seven-year, $55 million extension. So he should be still be living large right about now, right?

Chad Ochocinco, Tedy Bruschi, And The Dumbest Controversy Ever - From Our Editors - SBNation.com
As Tom Brady and the Patriots dismantled the Miami Dolphins Monday night, you might not have noticed that Chad Ochocinco only had one catch for 14 yards. Not that it mattered to Ochocinco. Afterward, he took to Twitter, and instead of complaining, he was just glad to be part of such a great team.

Randy Moss Is Not Walking Through That Door, Patriots Fans - SBNation.com
Randy Moss retired this summer as one of the greatest receivers in NFL history, and despite apparent interest from teams like the New England Patriots and New Orleans Saints, he's in no hurry to come back to football.

Tom Brady Tells Fans To Drink Before 4:15 Game, Is Obviously Talking About Water - From Our Editors - SBNation.com
On Wednesday, Tom Brady issued instructions to Patriots fans with regard to Sunday's home game against the Chargers:

Brian Urlacher Returns To Chicago Bears Practice - SBNation.com
Chicago Bears LB Brian Urlacher left the team earlier this week with what was called a family emergency and we later found out that he was mourning the surprise death of his mother. We weren't sure whether he would be back with the team for Sunday's Week 2 game but the Bears confirmed he returned to practice on Thursday.

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