Guys I've got some good news and some bad news, the bad news is that our Question of the Week is getting bumped until at least tomorrow or maybe Sunday. The good news however is that the official websites' own Darren Urban has agreed to answer a few questions for Revenge of the Birds. If you don't know who Darren Urban is, then shame on you. He's the teams' web manager and his fine work, which consists of blogs, stories, columns and podcasts, are well worth a daily read for any and every Cardinal fan. If you're looking for the breaking news, quotes from players and coaches or just looking for a Cardinals-fix, Darren Urban and AZCARDINALS.com is the place to go, in addition to ROTB of course.
I got rather long winded with my questions so the interview is quite long but to read the full Q&A session click the continue reading this post, located below.
Darren also wanted me to reiterate that these are solely his opinions and that they don't reflect the opinion or views of the coaching staff or management.
cgolden - By now we've all read the Chris Mortensen story and heard Whiz's response and I think it was expected that he'd hold off on naming a starter until the last possible minute. If he's serious about playing the best 22 players though, the decision seems to be an obvious one and I wonder how players would take it if he chose Leinart. Barring an implosion by Kurt against the Broncos, if he even plays, is there any chance that Matt starts on September 7th and will either quarterback really play enough this week to make an impression?
Darren Urban - As of this writing Friday morning, hours before the
game, here are my thoughts on the ever-changing situation. I don't think the Broncos game will have much of an impact on the QB decision. There's a good chance Whisenhunt has already made a decision in his own head. Do I think there is a chance Matt could start in SF? Sure. Warner could get hurt tonight too. But I, like most, think Kurt will start not because of any inside info but because I make the same assumptions everyone does. I don't think it's time to toss Matt out as a bust. I think that would be stupid. Wolfley made a good point to me in camp; if Warner starts and you bounce Matt, that means you will have essentially made up your mind on Leinart based on 5 regular-season starts. You have to throw out his rookie year under the mess Denny Green's staff had become. Even those who back Warner to the hilt have to admit five games is not enough. Denver
CG - Here's a quarterback question that doesn't involve one of the big two. We haven't seen much of Anthony Morelli during the preseason and everything that I've read on the kid says he's got all the physical tools to play the position BUT that he simply doesn't grasp the mental side of the game yet. What are your impressions of him and do you think they'll try and keep on the practice squad?
DA - I do think Morelli will end up on the practice squad. They do like his physical tools. But grasping the mental side is a huge hurdle; just look at Leinart. Morelli is a project and worth keeping around as a PSer.
CG - On the subject of injuries, there seem to be several guys who are questionable at best for the opener. What is the status of Gabe Watson and Al Johnson? Are any of the other guys with minor injuries (Rolle, Ben Patrick, Peter Clifford) in danger of missing any time beyond the final preseason game.
DA - As you have seen in the media (and hopefully on azcardinals.com) Al is going to miss the opener. Watson, I believe, will to, since he won't even start practicing until next week. Rolle is fine. I think Patrick will be back, but he lost some ground in his battle to beat out Leonard Pope. Clifford I think was a practice squad guy at best anyway.
CG - While I'm sure that Marcel Shipp is missed in the locker room, it sure seems like the backfield is stocked with plenty of talent. Edge is..well Edge, Hightower looks like an awful promising rookie and J.J. Arrington actually looks like a guy that can help this team win ballgames. How good can this running back trio be and which RB will end up on the practice squad (Baylark or Vincent)?
DA - If an RB is on the PS, I think it will be Baylark. Hightower does look very good and has surprised me; I am starting to think he can indeed replace Edge one day. I think the RBs will be fine if healthy, but then again, that could be said about any position.
CG - The defense was downright stellar against the Raiders and has looked better each game so far. Once they get back to full strength (namely Rolle and Watson), can this be a top 10 defense in 2008?
DA - It's so hard to judge where a team might rank because I just don't know where the other defenses in the league are. At full strength, this defense should be good. They have a good schedule to build some stats against to start the year. But they face some high power offenses too (NE, Dall). They don't even need to be top 10 if the offense picks up where it left off. They just have to be solid.
CG - It's no secret that the Cardinals have several players with expiring contracts and/or contract demands. How do you see the situations playing out with this group of guys (Boldin, Dockett, Rolle, Warner and Dansby)?
DA - Unless Dockett blows up and goes to another Pro Bowl, he's not going to have a contract argument. Rolle needs to prove he can play safety. The Q situation isn't good. I hope he plays well and they can work something out but that has ugly potential if they don't revisit it before the offseason. Dansby is an impressive talent; I think they will talk this season but remember they can't do anything with him until after the season and the closer he gets to free agency that will be a draw for Karlos to stay unsigned (see Pace, Calvin). If Warner starts and plays well, that puts the Cards in a pickle. But Leinart on the bench and not playing means he doesn't make a whole lot. I think Kurt can be reasonable too. If
blows up again, he's a guy they need to think about extending too; he expires after 2009. Adrian
I asked him some quick questions about individual players who were most likely to do certain things but he chose to answer in a more general and probably better way. Hopefully you guys enjoy his response as much I did:
Honestly, I know most of these guys and they know who I am and my name, but I am not around them enough to answer some of these. Let me make some blanket observations:
I want to start by saying there are no outright jerks on the roster. There are a couple of guys who I wouldn't exactly call friendly (to outsiders, not to teammates) but no one is telling me or a media guy to F off. That's huge in this day and age, and I think it's a trickle down effect from the head coach. There are lot of guys not just friendly with the media but just friendly. Al Johnson is a very good guy, engaging you in conversation. Eric Green, Matt Ware, Antonio Smith, Jerheme Urban. Kurt Warner is a plain nice guy and a media dream, even in tough times. Ralph Brown is really smart and if he had his career end today, he wouldn't have a problem transitioning into "real life."
Having been around the team all year with the ability to go in the locker room has helped my relationships. I could probably name 50 guys who I'd have no problem approaching and having a conversation. I won't list them all, but they all mostly seem to have their heads screwed on straight. As far as leaving the practice field last, Clark Haggans (another good guy and good quote) and Chike Okeafor tend to linger working on stuff, but anymore, it's whole groups. The receivers and running backs usually hang out to catch passes after.
Finally, I really like the draft class. They were in there a long stretch this summer even when the veterans were gone and I would pop into the locker room daily. They all know my face (although I am not sold every one remembers my name -- yet). DRC and Harrington are usually more serious when I have dealt with them but both are good guys. Doucet and Hightower come across as smart. They both "get it." Campbell, Iwebema and Keith not only seem to get it but all three have good personalities. If any (all?) of the draftees fulfill their football potential, they all have the capability of being fan/media favorites because of those personalities. Again, no jerks.
Many thanks goes out to Mr. Darren Urban for taking time out of his day to answer our questions and hopefully we can get his opinion like this again in the future. Again, if you're unfamiliar with his work, please check out the Cardinals official site were his articles and podcasts inspire almost everything that you see here. So what do you guys think?