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1-3-12: Arizona Cardinals Bird Droppings - Optimisim

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 (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Getty Images

Time for some links, most of which focus on all of the positive tings to build off of from the end of the season.

Arizona Cardinals News:

Kolb Faces Crucial Season
Notebook: Key defensive free agents; Beanie awaits knee plan

Something To Build On
Whisenhunt doesn't anticipate a lot of change after strong 2011 finish

Arizona Cardinals confident after strong finish to 2011-12 season
The Cardinals' locker room took on the feel of a high school yearbook signing party Monday, the day after the season ended. Players signed helmets, jerseys and other paraphernalia for each other, sometimes at their own expense. Rookie Patrick Peterson asked defensive lineman Darnell Dockett for a game jersey, which Dockett would have to purchase. "You want a jersey and I have to buy the (expletive)?" Dockett yelled, teasingly. The mood was upbeat for a team that finished 8-8 and out of the playoffs for a second consecutive year. But winning seven of the last nine left the Cardinals feeling good about themselves and eager for next season, after an ample rest of course.

Arizona Cardinals enter off-season upbeat for future
Some quick notes after Coach Ken Whisenhunt's post-season news conference: The session was far more upbeat than a year ago when the Cardinals went 5-11. Whisenhunt said then that many players weren't going to like what they heard in exit interviews. Many of them, he said, didn't have as good of seasons as they thought. The theme this year to players is that there won't be huge changes on the roster. That's why Whisenhunt talked to them all last week about the Seattle game being the first one of 2012.

Arizona Cardinals face $63 million question with quarterback Kevin Kolb
It's the $63 million question. When the Cardinals report to training camp next fall, will coach Ken Whisenhunt put the starting-quarterback position up for grabs between Kevin Kolb and John Skelton? Kolb signed a five-year, $63million contract with Arizona upon being acquired from Philadelphia for cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and a second-round draft pick. But injuries and ineffectiveness left him 2-6 in his eight full games as a starter this season. Skelton, meanwhile, went 6-2 when he started or played most of the game.

Word From the Birds Blog - News and notes to wrap up the season
I will have a couple of home page stories later today, but for now, some of the newsy notes from the final locker room session and coach Ken Whisenhunt’s final presser:

Arizona Cardinals-Seattle Seahawks rewind: What we learned
Kent Somers breaks down the Cardinals' season-ending, 23-20 overtime win over the Seahawks on Sunday in Glendale.

QBR ranks: Smith, Skelton step up - NFC West Blog - ESPN
John Skelton, Arizona Cardinals (69.7 QBR, 74.1 NFL rating): Skelton completed 22 of 40 passes for 271 yards with one touchdown, one interception, two sacks and no fumbles. He ran five times for 19 yards. Skelton completed third-down passes covering 26, 26, 22 and 18 yards. He also picked up a critical first down on a fourth-and-2 play in overtime. The touchdown drive Skelton led in the first quarter featured a 22-yard completion to Todd Heap on third-and-5.

2011 NFC West game-changers: Week 17 - NFC West Blog - ESPN
The Arizona Cardinals matched an NFL record with four overtime victories this season. Their latest overtime success story, a 23-20 victory over the Seattle Seahawks, featured more of the game-changing plays that typified Arizona's up-and-down season.

Cards Daily - Reflecting on 2011
Coaches and players meet with the media one last time to reflect on the 2011 season.

Arizona Sports News:

Phoenix Suns defeat Golden State Warriors in first game of 2012
The shots the Suns had been missing during games were as routine as the ones they methodically go through individually before each tip-off. Unobstructed 3-pointers. Mid-range shots along the baseline or at the top of the key. Driving layups. The Suns again were stuck on 40 percent shooting Monday, missing 11 of their first 12 3-point shots to fall behind a Golden State team that had not won in Phoenix since 2005. Then the team fans missed suddenly could not miss. The Suns flipped a switch with a surge of 17 points in 3½ minutes, and they hope the rediscovered touch can last beyond their 102-91 victory at US Airways Center.

ASU linebacker Vontaze Burfict expected to declare for NFL draft
ASU's Burfict likely headed to NFL Junior linebacker Vontaze Burfict is expected to announce this week, possibly toTuesday, that he will forgo his final season at Arizona State and declare for the NFL draft.

Phoenix Suns bench leading the way
In the Suns' first four games, a reserve led them in scoring, the subs shot better than the starters each time, and the bench outscored the starters.

NFL News:

Polian, Roman, Flynn and other subjects - NFC West Blog - ESPN
Lots going on around the NFC and in the NFC West. Let's make the rounds ...

49ers fans worried? Better think again - NFC West Blog - ESPN
The San Francisco 49ers emerged from Week 17 with a 13-3 record and first-round playoff bye as the NFC's second seed. They also barely held on to beat the previously 2-13 St. Louis Rams, allowing as many points (27) as they had allowed in a game all season -- despite the Rams' status as the NFL's lowest-scoring team. They have injuries at wide receiver and tight end. Even ironman defensive lineman Justin Smith has been hurting recently. The question I posed Sunday -- how much should the 49ers be concerned? -- had invited about 350 responses by Monday morning. Let's run through a few of them, with my thoughts interspersed. The 49ers fans I've encountered aren't hurting for confidence.

NFL Power Rankings: Packers Finish 2011 Season Where They Started -
SB Nation's final 2011-12 NFL power rankings are out and, as usual, the Packers are the top team and the Colts are the worst team.

Raheem Morris Fired As Tampa Bay Buccaneers Head Coach -
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have fired head coach Raheem Morris, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. Morris was one of a handful of coaches who were fearing Black Monday. His Bucs lost 10 straight to end the season at 4-12. His firing isn't a major surprise.

Rex Ryan And The Jets Go Down In Flames, Tears, Etc. - From Our Editors -
You have to give the Jets credit. Right till the bitter end, Rex Ryan and his team will always keep things exciting. Not to content to fade quietly toward the offseason, Rex Ryan addressed his team on Monday and reportedly broke down in tears, and pleaded with his players to remain a team. On the other end of the spectrum... The players themselves refused to even speak to reporters, except for the ones they decided to told to "Get the f*** out my face". Here's CBS Sports:

Bill Polian Fired By Indianapolis Colts; No Word On Jim Caldwell -
The Colts are cleaning house. According to a report Bill and Chris Polian were both fired by the Colts. There's no word on Jim Caldwell's fate.

Jerry Angelo Fired As Chicago Bears General Manager, According To Report -
Surprise! The Bears have reportedly fired general manager Jerry Angelo, who has been with the team since 2001.

Jeff Fisher Interviewing With The Dolphins On Tuesday -
Jeff Fisher in St. Louis? Or Miami? Both the Rams and Dolphins will interview the former Titans coach. The Miami interview will take place on Tuesday.

Indianapolis Colts fire Bill Polian, Chris Polian; Peyton Manning 'stunned' by decision - ESPN
The Indianapolis Colts have fired team vice chairman Bill Polian and his son, Chris, the Colts' general manager -- a decision that left franchise quarterback Peyton Manning "stunned."

Jason Taylor's Last Locker Room Speech Will Make You Miss Him Already - From Our Editors -
There are a handful of guys in the NFL that feel like they've been around forever--Brian Dawkins, Ray Lewis, John Kasay, Donald Driver, Ronde Barber, Olin Kreutz, etc. Guys that have universal respect from their peers and just keep on going, year after year, long after we expected they'd fade away. And for the last few years, the head of that class has definitely been Jason Taylor.

Jason Garrett says Cowboys’ improvement starts with him | ProFootballTalk
Cowboys coach Jason Garrett knows that this year’s 8-8 record is unacceptable. And he says he’s the one who has to get better. Garrett said he’s evaluating all aspects of the team that need to improve, and that it starts with him.

Plaxico could be one and done with Jets | ProFootballTalk
The final numbers for Plaxico Burress this season weren’t bad for a guy just getting out of prison. But they weren’t great for an NFL starter.

New York Jets' Santonio Holmes, Mark Sanchez clashed last week, sources say - ESPN New York
Santonio Holmes' blow-up and benching occurred in the final minutes of the New York Jets' season-ending loss Sunday, but the tension had been building for days, team sources told

MVP: The case for Aaron Rodgers - Shutdown Corner - NFL Blog - Yahoo! Sports
Comprehensive National Football League news, scores, standings, fantasy games, rumors, and more

MVP: The case for Drew Brees - Shutdown Corner - NFL Blog - Yahoo! Sports
Comprehensive National Football League news, scores, standings, fantasy games, rumors, and more