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2-11-11: Arizona Cardinals Bird Droppings

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Links for today.

"Players make it come to life"
During Super Bowl week, Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau was talking about why his defensive schemes were so successful. There were a few reasons, but LeBeau came back a couple of times to one in particular: "The players make it come to life." So as Ray Horton takes over as defensive coordinator, that’s the question: What players does he have in place to have his defense – which he clearly will pattern after LeBeau’s – work? He wasn’t real specific talking about the players yesterday (and that’s only fair, he had only begun to analyze what he had). He mentioned that technique and fundamentals got sloppy at the end of the season. That can happen, but that obviously has to change.

Cards need to stay calm when finding the right QB -
Larry Fitzgerald has spoken. Media reports have said that the Cardinals star wide receiver wants Kevin Kolb as his quarterback next season. The report has prompted Cardinals' fans, talk show hosts and even respected columnists to hit the panic button saying the Cardinals should do whatever it takes to make Fitzgerald happy even if it means trading their first round pick (fifth overall) to the Eagles to pry Kolb away from them. This would be a colossal mistake on the Cardinals' part if they were to make a knee-jerk reaction to Fitzgerald's requests.

What Was He Thinking? - Sports Illustrated (Jake Plummer SI article)

Mailbag: Aeneas Williams vs. 'Prime Time' - NFC West Blog - ESPN
David from Phoenix writes: I understand the flash and ego that comes with Deion Sanders, but if you compare him to Aenaes Williams, how is Williams not in the Hall of Fame? Williams was just as "shut-down" as Sanders. Ask Michael Irvin. - Horton's communication skills will be tested in Arizona
While it took a lot longer to hire him than many in the desert would have preferred, new Cardinals defensive coordinator Ray Horton appears to have made a strong initial impression among team insiders. More than a month after the firing of Billy Davis, Horton officially became the Cardinals’ third defensive coordinator in four seasons Wednesday after spending the past four seasons as the Steelers' DB coach. Clancy Pendergast and Davis each lasted two seasons in the same capacity before being given their walking papers. Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt knows exactly what he’s getting in the 50-year-old Horton, having worked with him in Pittsburgh for three seasons. Horton played defensive back for 10 years in the NFL and appeared in Super Bowls with both the Bengals and Cowboys. He has coached the past 17 years at the pro level for four different teams — Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Washington and Detroit. Horton immediately promised an attacking, aggressive defense patterned after the Steelers’ 3-4 but faces the daunting challenge of incorporating his system in a streamlined time frame because of the work stoppage widely expected to kick in after March 4.

Got rings? Not without a quarterback
Aaron Rodgers completed 24 of 39 passes for 304 yards, three touchdowns and a 111.5 rating in Green Bay’s 31-25 win over Pittsburgh in Super Bowl XLV. Drew Brees completed 32 of 39 passes for 288 yards and two touchdowns and a 114.5 rating in New Orleans’ 31-17 win over Indianapolis in Super Bowl XLIV. Both won the game’s most valuable player award, bringing the count to eight QBs who have earned that distinction in the past 13 Super Bowls.

Video Gallery
Ron Wolfley Sits Down With Ray Horton

KTAR Audio
Ray Horton joins Doug and Wolf to talk about what he sees when he looks at the Cards, what improvements will be made and what he learned from Dick LeBeau.

Phoenix Suns reach .500 with blowout win vs. Golden State Warriors
Thursday night's return to the .500 mark for the first time in 53 days was not the arrival at a destination for the Suns. It was a short-term goal for a redirection of the team that began a month ago when the Suns had to turn their sails away from where the ship was sinking after a 34-point loss at Denver.

49ers Blog and Q&A: Dilfer calls QB Newton a Top 3 draft pick
The first thing that struck Dilfer was Newton's stature. Newton was not weighed and measured at the event - that will come later this month at the scouting combine - but Dilfer said he was something to behold. "I'm 6-4, 240, and he makes me look like a sixth grader," Dilfer said. "Everything about him - his neck, his shoulder, his calves, his butt - was impressive."

Cam Newton and huge NFC West offseason - NFC West Blog - ESPN
The St. Louis Rams landed Sam Bradford atop the 2010 NFL draft and it was arguably the most significant move in the NFL last offseason. Three NFC West quarterbacks need franchise quarterbacks this offseason. Two of them, the Arizona Cardinals and San Francisco 49ers, hold draft choices among the top seven overall picks. The Seattle Seahawks hold the 25th pick.

Chat wrap: Quarterbacks and beyond - NFC West Blog - ESPN
Joe (Phoenix): Sando, McShay is now on the Kiper bandwagon with the Cards taking Blaine Gabbert. Do you really believe they will go this route? They have to sign a veteran. Could the usually stingy Bidwills pay for a top 10 QB and a veteran starter?

Talk of the tag
Today is the first day teams can place the franchise tag on potential free agents (it’s a two-week window) and it may not mean much — with the knowledge the current CBA is expiring, the NFLPA is insisting that the end of the CBA also means any tag applied now goes away without a new agreement by March 4. Nevertheless, stars like Colts QB Peyton Manning and Ravens NT Haloti Hgata are expected to get tags, just so their teams can protect themselves in case.

Kevin Kolb trade, Donovan McNabb to Vikings, other NFC questions - Don Banks -
Don't expect Redskins to move fast on Donovan McNabb, Albert Haynesworth Bears will keep close eye on No. 1 wide receivers on free agent market Sam Bradford and the Rams could take step back if labor uncertainty lingers

NFL calls characterization of Wednesday’s meetings "inaccurate" | ProFootballTalk
The NFL released a statement Thursday afternoon on the state of labor negotiations that tried to have the best of both worlds. It tried to take the high road. Essentially the purpose for the statement was to say the NFL won’t negotiate in public. But the league couldn’t resist calling the reports coming out of Wednesday’s session with the NFLPA "inaccurate." That’s basically negotiating in public.

Demaryius Thomas tears Achilles’ tendon | ProFootballTalk
Broncos 2010 first-round pick Demaryius Thomas looked very explosive as a rookie when he was healthy. The problem is that he rarely stayed healthy for long after entering the league with a foot injury.

League, union sharply disagree on rookie wage scale, too | ProFootballTalk
The discrepancy between the league’s and the union’s view of the size of the slice of the pie that the players collectively receive isn’t the only issue on which the NFL and the NFLPA disagree. The two sides also disagree on the rookie wage scale. Or, as the union now calls it, the "veteran wage scale."

Cam Newton demonstrates workout routine for media - ESPN
Enjoying the San Diego sunshine and saying that he's "shooting for greatness," Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton gave the media a glimpse of the workouts he's going through daily as he prepares for the NFL combine and draft.

NFL exec on Super Bowl seats: We screwed up - ESPN Dallas
An NFL executive says the NFL screwed up the temporary seating situation at the Super Bowl.

Mayock on Newton: "I really didn’t need to see the workout" | ProFootballTalk
"I really didn’t need to see the workout, nor do I need to hear about the workout. … I’ve watched five of (Newton’s) game tapes," Mayock explained. "He’s got a classic overhand delivery, he’s got a big arm. You and I in gym shorts at the local high school can throw pretty accurately, so I would guarantee you (Newton) would look great in a pair of gym shorts. "…But I would also (offer) one cautionary note, and that is the best Pro Day for a quarterback I ever attended was JaMarcus Russell. That same day, even though I admitted it was the best Pro Day I ever saw, I also said I wouldn’t take (Russell) in the first round." news: Newton makes powerful impression at controlled workout
Cam Newton's private workout in front of a media contingent was absolutely sensational. He made a strong statement about his future as an NFL quarterback by blowing the doors off a controlled workout orchestrated by his quarterback coach George Whitfield, Jr.

Newton's media workout was more sizzle than steak - Shutdown Corner - NFL  - Yahoo! Sports
Most pre-draft quarterback workouts are conducted at school pro days, and they're monitored by the NFL scouts and personnel people who are there to see specific things. I remember Rob Rang of telling me that one of the reasons Mark Sanchez went so high in the 2009 draft was his ability to make specific throws on request from NFL decision-makers. And when Sam Bradford completed 49 of 50 passes at his pro day, people got that much more of an idea what that guy was all about. These types of workouts are generally conducted with the quarterback in question throwing to a few of his buddies while wearing a shirt and shorts and facing no defensive pressure or coverage. It's about showing what the player can do, isolated from scheme or the talent around him. But what do we say about a workout in which a quarterback holds a workout for the media in which talent evaluators aren't invited?

Marshall Faulk: Bears don’t have the receivers Mike Martz needs | ProFootballTalk
If Bears offensive coordinator Mike Martz wants to put pressure on the front office to get him a better receiving corps, one way to do that would be to create a public perception that the Bears simply don’t have the personnel to run the Martz offense. So when we see quotes along those lines from Marshall Faulk, who played for Martz in St. Louis, we can’t help but wonder if Faulk is doing Martz’s bidding.

Ron Rivera unsure of Steve Smith’s future in Carolina | ProFootballTalk
It doesn’t take long to realize that Panthers coach Ron Rivera is very direct. Ask him about wide receiver Steve Smith, and Rivera doesn’t try to skirt around the fact Smith’s future with the team is uncertain.

NFL, Roger Goodell not on same page as fans about 18-game season - ESPN
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell means well, he really does. It's obvious that he cares about the game, its fans and its players. But remember -- always remember -- that Goodell was hired by the owners. And at the end of the day, at the end of every day, Goodell's allegiances mimic those of his real constituency, those 32 NFL ownership groups.