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1-4-12: Arizona Cardinals Bird Droppings - Perfectionist Fitz

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 (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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Time for some links, including one about the number of drops Fitz had this year and Kolb being ready to compete with Skelton to be the starter.

Arizona Cardinals News:

Larry Fitzgerald upset about one drop in 153 passes thrown his way | ProFootballTalk
Larry Fitzgerald is a perfectionist. Fitzgerald, the Arizona receiver who concluded the season by leading the Cardinals to a win over the Seahawks on Sunday, was alerted to the fact that he dropped only one pass during the 2011 season, and he responded by saying that one drop is one too many.

Arizona Cardinals' Kevin Kolb ready to defend his turf
Two things are certain about the 2012 Cardinals: They will stage a riveting quarterback competition in Flagstaff. And when they leave training camp, they'll have one of the best backups in the business. Assuming Kevin Kolb is still working in Arizona. "You're never certain of anything in this world," he said before leaving for West Texas. "But I am very confident they're going to keep me around." As the offseason begins in Arizona, Kolb is finally feeling normal. He hasn't played since the first series against the 49ers on Dec. 11, when he took a knee to the back of the helmet. He watched Sunday's game in sweat clothes, wearing earplugs to protect his brain. But this time, he was fully engaged in the Cardinals' 23-20 victory over Seattle on Sunday, exhorting his teammates along the way.

Word From the Birds Blog - Breaking down the roster
Here was a key line from coach Ken Whisenhunt’s season-ending press conference after the 2010 season: "As far as personnel change, there’s going to be change. When you go 5-11, there are going to be changes that are made. It has to be that way." Monday, Whisenhunt’s team still hadn’t made the playoffs, but it was three games better. Thus: "You don’t anticipate a lot of changes." There will be some of course. That’s inevitable. Some players will be determined replaceable. Some will be wanted back, but at the right price, which always leaves the door open for them eventually leaving. And there is always the chance an unexpectedly good player will come available that simply has to be had, even if there isn’t necessarily a place for him to immediately play.

Re-Focused: Seahawks @ Cardinals, Week 17 |
As commentators Sam Rosen and Chad Pennington kept on telling us this was a good, hard-fought encounter where both teams played like they had a lot more on the line than pride. It was as if Fox were concerned you couldn’t work out for yourself if you were enjoying the game; let’s just reassure the people watching that football with nothing at stake can be more entertaining than watching Tim Tebow struggle to complete 25% of his throws, they said … without actually saying it of course. Truthfully, this was far more to my taste with some outstanding play on both sides to discuss and extrapolate into next year. When the dust of this season settles, the offseason is done and we are looking forward to Kick Off 2012, will what we saw here be far more salient than what was transpiring in Mile High?

2012 NFL Offseason: Cardinals Set At Quarterback Despite Uncertainty - SB Nation Arizona
Here's a quick comparison of the two quarterbacks this season with both essentially playing eight full games:

Where NFC West teams rank: Week 17 - NFC West Blog - ESPN
Cardinals' situational defense. Arizona ranked first in third-down defense and second in red zone defense. The yardage rankings lagged in part because the Cardinals allowed 58 pass plays of at least 20 yards, fifth-most in the NFL. Arizona also lost the turnover battle too frequently. The Cardinals ranked 28th in fewest giveaways and 26th in most takeaways. Continued development of the pass-rush would help force more turnovers.

Revisiting NFC West projections for 2011 - NFC West Blog - ESPN
Following up: It's tough to take full credit for nailing this projection given how it happened. The team started 1-6 and rallied to 8-8 despite never getting much from newly acquired quarterback Kevin Kolb. I thought Arizona would have needed more games from Kolb to improve its record by three victories. Arizona's ability to manufacture victories through the return game and fourth-quarter rallies made up the difference. The concerns I raised about Kolb's durability in relation to the Cardinals' pass protection hit the mark. The defense showed more improvement than I had anticipated.

Cardinals will have a battle for starting QB job -
For Kevin Kolb, the 2011 season will be one to pretty much throw away. Traded to Arizona shortly before the games began, the QB had little time to learn the playbook before being asked to lead the team, and when the games started he battled ineffectiveness along with injuries. He played in just nine games - finishing eight - and could only watch as backup John Skelton made a play for his starting job. So, it should come as no surprise that the 27-year-old views 2012 as somewhat of a defining year in his career.

Beanie Wells turns in career season for Cardinals -
Beanie Wells had a career year in 2011. A third-year pro, Wells rushed for 1,047 yards and 10 touchdowns - both career highs - and silenced many critics who thought he could not play through pain or, really, be an effective runner.

Another year of Cardinals football in the books -
Can you believe it? The Arizona Cardinals just finished up their 24th season of football in the Valley of the Sun. It wasn't the best year in Cardinals' history and it certainly wasn't the worst, either. After a dismal 1-6 start, the Cardinals rallied to go 7-2 over their last nine games, the 2nd-best record in the league during that span (only the Patriots, Packers and Saints had better records). But in the end, the Cardinals' quest for the postseason fell short when they lost on the road at Cincinnati in Week 16 -- a game that mirrored the entire season. The Cardinals dug a 23-point hole, but came back, giving themselves numerous chances to win before falling 23-16.

In the Red Zone with Ken Whisenhunt - Season Wrap
Ken Whisenhunt joins The Doug and Wolf Show on Arizona Sports 620 to talk about the 2011 Cardinals season and more.

Fans Make Gameday More Than Just a Day
The Arizona Cardinals would like to thank our fans for creating a one of a kind gameday atmosphere at University of Phoenix Stadium.

Arizona Sports News:

Jaroslav Halak's 34 saves lifts St. Louis Blues over Phoenix Coyotes
Jaroslav Halak is back on track. The St. Louis goalie made a season-high 34 saves, and the Blues snapped a season-worst, three-game skid with a 4-1 win over the Phoenix Coyotes on Tuesday night. The Blues improved to 15-3-2 at home with their seventh win there in eight games. They are tied with Detroit for the most home wins in the NHL.

ASU football's Vontaze Burfict declares for NFL draft
Vontaze Burfict is leaving Arizona State for the NFL. The 6-foot-3, 250-pound junior middle linebacker will not return to the Sun Devils for his senior season. His time in Tempe likely will be remembered for his bone-jarring hits, but also for unmet expectations and a temper that often resulted in unsportsmanlike-conduct penalties.

ESPN report: Osweiler could leave ASU -
ESPN's Greg Biggins posted a series of tweets on Tuesday about the future of Brock Osweiler -- and it sounds quite ominous for the Sun Devil faithful.

NFL News:

NFL Power Rankings: How they voted - NFC West Blog - ESPN
Take a bow, Green Bay Packers. You sailed through ESPN's NFL Power Rankings as the top team from Week 1 through the regular season. There was lots and lots of movement beneath you, however.

Silver linings: Rams vs. 49ers - NFC West Blog - ESPN
The facts: The St. Louis Rams finished the 2011 season with a 2-14 record after suffering a 34-27 defeat to the San Francisco 49ers in the Edward Jones Dome.

NFL Playoffs: Wild Card Weekend Rankings For Damn Near Everything -
The NFL Playoffs are upon us, and if history's any indication, we have no idea what's coming next. But that doesn't mean we can't have fun preparing. Get ready for the weekend with some Wild Card power rankings!

The Colts Are Now Free To Move On From Manning, And Jim Irsay Should -
Jim Irsay plays the fool on Twitter. But after firing Bill and Chris Polian, the Colts owner is free to fool us all, move on from Peyton Manning and into the future.

Mike Martz Won't Return To Chicago Bears In 2012 -
Mike Martz won't be back in Chicago. According to a report, Martz and the Bears have decided to part ways.

Norv Turner, A.J. Smith Returning To San Diego Chargers, Dean Spanos Announces -
The San Diego Chargers will not be making a move at head coach or general manager, according to a statement from team owner Dean Spanos. The future of GM A.J. Smith and head coach Norv Turner had been in question after the Chargers missed the playoffs for the second consecutive season. Several weeks ago the vast majority of league observers would have predicted Turner, and even possibly Smith, would be fired. But in the last week we've seen momentum coming for both to return and, according to Spanos, they will. It was also believed Philip Rivers was strongly encouraging the team to retain Turner.

Andy Reid Will Return As Philadelphia Eagles Head Coach In 2012 -
Andy Reid will apparently be back for a 14th season as Eagles coach despite a disappointing 8-8 record.

Fun Fact: The New England Patriots Went 13-3 Without Beating A Winning Team - From Our Editors -
The New England Patriots cruised to a 13-3 record on their way to the AFC's top seed, but Tim Britton of the Providence Journal uncovered a disquieting fact for Pats fans: the team only played two games against franchises that finished with winning records, and lost them both -- to the Steelers in Pittsburgh and at home against the Giants.

Sickle cell trait keeps Ryan Clark out of Denver playoff game - Shutdown Corner - NFL Blog - Yahoo! Sports
Pittsburgh Steelers safety Ryan Clark will not play in Pittsburgh's playoff game against Denver this weekend, head coach Mike Tomlin announced Tuesday. Clark carries the sickle cell trait, which becomes especially dangerous in high altitude, low-oxygen conditions, which the Steelers will be experiencing Sunday afternoon in Denver. The last time Clark played in Denver, it cost him his spleen, his gallbladder, 30 pounds and the rest of the season. Since that 2007 game, the Steelers have played in Denver twice, and Clark was held out of both of those games, too.

Terrell Suggs goes out of his way to bash Tim Tebow - Shutdown Corner - NFL Blog - Yahoo! Sports
The Baltimore Ravens have a playoff bye this week. Don't think that means Terrell Suggs' mouth will be taking it easy. The linebacker took a mostly-unprovoked shot at Tim Tebow during a Tuesday appearance on ESPN's "First Take." "With all due respect we don't need God on our sidelines," Suggs said. "Once again God had to save Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos. He couldnt even give them two drives? Seven to three?"

Judging Flacco, Sanchez and Tebow is a tricky situation - Shutdown Corner - NFL Blog - Yahoo! Sports
2011 was proclaimed "The Year of the Quarterback" by the alleged Worldwide Leader in Sports, but it might just as well be the year of the incredibly average quarterback. It seems that at no time in the history of the NFL have more high-profile quarterbacks been so decidedly middle-of-the-road and still achieving success.

Matt Forte plans to play in the Pro Bowl | ProFootballTalk
Bears running back Matt Forte didn’t have a chance to showcase his talents late in the regular season, or in the postseason, due to an MCL sprain that kept him from playing in the final four games of the Bears’ disappointing 8-8 campaign.

Jerry Jones insists he’s the right G.M. for the Cowboys | ProFootballTalk
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones says he will remain Cowboys General Manager Jerry Jones, and no one is going to talk him out of that.