Well, for this fan, the elation of the Cardinals reclaiming their own stadium and beating the Cleveland Browns 38-24 didn’t last very much longer than Victory Monday.
I have been wanting so desperately to convince myself that if Michael Bidwill holds on the Steve Keim and Vance Jospeh for another year (as the local media expects) it might not be as bad as I fear.
But—-I just can’t do it.
Two of the latest cases in point: (1) the debacle surrounding $7M OLB/DE Terrell Suggs; (2) the pigeonholing of the Cardinals 2019 #33 selection CB Byron Murphy as a slot CB.
Here’s a tweet to brighten your day:
Terrell Suggs going to wear #94 for #Chiefs, he can still play the run and set the edge as well as ever, has a knack for producing strip-sacks, and best of all, he is all in. Was told he was laser- focused in meetings today. Should be a great pairing with Frank Clark.— Louis Riddick (@LRiddickESPN) December 19, 2019
Suggs is “all-in” and “laser-focused” in Kansas City.
Upon his arrival in KC, Suggs informed the media that he’s “all-in” on the Chiefs because he “didn’t fit in” with the Cardinals.
"I asked coach 'I just learned the hard way that a player like me just (doesn’t) fit in anywhere. He was like ‘Trust me, you’ll fit in here.’ '' -- Suggs on what Reid told him about coming to the Chiefs.— Adam Teicher (@adamteicher) December 18, 2019
This reeks of an unbearable stench—-from every angle.
For one—-on Suggs’ part—-if he really wanted to “fit in” with the Cardinals, then why was he a no show during the Cardinals’ OTAs?
Why was he a non-participant in the vast majority of week to week practices?
Why was he, by all appearances, living up to precisely what he told a Ravens’ teammate that he elected to steal ($7M) from the Cardinals because he couldn’t bear the thought of stealing from the Ravens he so adores?
How could a player of his caliber—-a player who in many’s eyes believe he belongs one day in Canton—-take so many plays off? Particularly taking so many pass rush plays off, like he did when the Cardinals gave up easy TDs to the Bucs at the end of each half, which cost the team a good road win. Rewind the tape and you will see the unfathomable—-with the Bucs marching down the field, Suggs making absolutely zero effort to rush QB Jameis Winston.
Secondly—-think of how Suggs’ lack of effort and feelings like he didn’t “fit in” reflect on the Cardinals’ coaches. Seriously—-they couldn’t coach up a player of Terrell Suggs’ ilk? Could it have something to do with asking him to drop off into coverage on pass plays with the game on the line?
Could it have something to do with rolling out the red carpet for him to do whatever he wants?
Terrell Suggs should have been benched or cut after the Bucs game. Yet, week after week, despite being a non-participant in the practices, the coaches parade him out onto the field and give him the vast majority of the snaps.
Not sure whether the stat that I am about to reveal had something to do with a lethargic and uninspired Patrick Peterson returning to the lineup (after all, misery seeks company, right?)—-but, get this—-during the Cardinals’ 6 game losing streak, Terrell Suggs was on the field for 312 snaps (187 passing plays) and during that 6 game span, Suggs’ contribution as a pass rusher was 1 sack and 1 QB hit. All of that from one of the most prolific edge rushers in the history of the NFL.
During the Bucs’ game and both the 49ers’ games, the Cardinals’ offense put the team in a good position to win—-and yet each time with the game on the line the Cardinals’ defense folded in swift and epic fashion.
But—-how can a defense prevail when two of its Pro Bowl caliber players are running at half speed, if and when they are running at all?
How could the coaches watch the tapes of these shameful efforts and simply do nothing at all about it?
At least earlier in the season after S D.J. Swearinger jogged through the first 4 games—-during the difficult 0-3-1 stretch—-the coaches got rid of Swearinger.
After the bad 34-7 loss to the Rams following the bye week, the coaches said goodbye to CB Trumaine Brock—-who actually had the highest PFF grade of all the Cardinals’ CBs—-and the irony of that decision was that Brock was the only Broncos’ defensive free agent to follow Jospeh to Arizona—-think of the repercussions of that reality for a minute.
Then finally following the Cardinals disappointing 23-17 loss of the game and the stadium to the Pittsburgh Steelers—-the coaches jettison Suggs.
Was it just pure coincidence that with Suggs gone and Patrick Peterson suddenly interested in playing, the Cardinals finally broke their 6 game losing streak?
This just in—-when players dog it in the NFL—-their teams don’t win.
And their teams get laughed at.
Might as well bet against the team when that happens, right Josh Shaw?
Yet—-after Suggs’ release this is what Kliff Kingsbury had to say:
“We have such great respect for him,” Kingsbury said. “He was phenomenal in our building, work ethic, energy, the juice he brought every day, the professionalism was through the roof. We wanted to give him the opportunity to find a fit if it’s out there.”
Of course, Kingsbury wasn’t going to throw mud on Suggs on his way out the door—-but—-the Cardinals are getting all too practiced and good at offering farewell odes of high praise to the coaches and players they release.
Notice , however, that Kingsbury said this was Suggs chance “to find a fit—-if it’s out there.”
Suggs in Arizona wasn’t a fit from the start.
It was another classic case of the Cardinals moving on from one of their better draft picks—-in this case—-from their 2015 2nd round pick, OLB/DE Markus Golden—-in favor of signing a veteran free agent past his prime to a 1 year deal worth millions —-and, once again, kicking the can at the position further down the road.
In this case too, it was readily obvious from the get-go that signing Terrell Suggs, who should have been a Raven for life, was a ticket selling ploy.
This decision turned out to be a lose times 6 situation for Michael Bidwill, Steve Keim, Kliff Kingsbury, Vance Jospeh, the team and Suggs himself. Not to mention the fans who had to watch this charade.
Think too of yet another nasty PR hit the Cardinals are now taking—-not only does it make the Cardinals look extremely foolish for not getting things to work out with a player like Suggs—-Suggs now joins one of the most outwardly outspoken Cardinal defectors, S Tyrann Mathieu, in Kansas City—-the same Tyrann Mathieu who recently tweeted to the Cardinals’ disgruntled $13M a year RB David Johnson that he should “come to KC.”
It’s incidences like these—-from Tyrann Mathieu to Sam Bradford to Terrell Suggs—-that perpetuate the league wide perception that the Cardinals a laughing stock and utterly incompetent organization.
Upon the release of Terrell Suggs—-and in the same dismay it felt like to see the likes Tyrann Mathieu, Sam Bradford, Michel Crabtree and D.J. Swearinger shipped off—-this is what came to mind:
December 13 Tweet from @WBJMitch:
With regard to the Cardinals’ releasing OLB/DE Terrell Suggs, to quote from Lorraine Hansberry’s “A Raisin in the Sun:” “when a cat take off with your money, he don’t leave no road maps.”
The Cardinals’ Murphy’s Law of Drafting
If the news yesterday about Terrell Suggs’ proclaimed lack of “a fit” with the Cardinals wasn’t enough frustration for one day, we learned from Kliff Kingsbury (likely via Vance Jospeh) per ESPN’s Josh Weinfuss:
“Kliff Kingsbury would prefer to play CB Byron Murphy in the slot as opposed to outside this season and going forward. Kingsbury said Murphy has been playing out of position outside.”
Kingsbury said that the intention all along was to draft Byron Murphy as a slot CB.
This is so brutally wrong on so many counts, I do not even know where to start.
If you watch Murphy’s college tape, he excels as an off-the- ball LCB, where he can play his man, take leverage angles while being able to see the ball. His game is less suited for playing press coverage because he lacks the blazing speed and short area quicks to run stride for stride with faster receivers.
Pigeonholing him as a slot CB at this early stage in his career is an egregious mistake.
What this means is that once again Steve Keim used a high draft pick on a player that the team would have to use in a specialized role—-one that may not be the best fit for that player.
Playing slot CB in the NFL requires a heavy dose of press coverage and the kind of quickest and speed to shadow quick RAC-type receivers. We’ve seen him in a trail technique—-and that’s not the strength of his game.
What this also appears to indicate is that Steve Keim did not understand Vance Josephs’ CB requirements—-at pick #33, the Cardinals should be drafting a starting CB—-and finally they make a high pick on a CB other than the 3rd rounder they drafted in 2016, Brandon Williams.
What makes no sense whatsoever is how Keim and the Cardinals could have Murphy ranked as their #5 player on their 2019 Draft board and not think of him as a natural fit as a starting CB.
The irony is that Murphy would have been the perfect pick for Steve Wilks and his defense. Murphy’s game matches up very well with the likes of some of th best, most natural off-the-ball CBs in the NFL like Richard Sherman and Josh Norman.
These are CBs in the 6’0” plus, 195-200 pound range coming out of college who have 4.5 speed and 35” verticals—-who can play equally well in man and zones—-guys who are ideal for Cover 3 defenses, for example. They are playmakers on the ball who bring a pack a punch for their buck. That’s what Byron Murphy is.
We’ve seen him in a trail technique—-and that’s not his game.
Plus—-he brings something at CB that has been terribly missing for years—-the ability and desire to force the run with a bang and to bust up screens before they can get started.
But—no—-that’s not the role that Vance Jospeh envisions for Murphy—-
Can I just ask this—-
When is the Cardinals’ Murphy’s Law of drafting ever going to stop?
How can the Cardinals’ players and fans possibly trust the decision making of the GM and a defensive coordinator like Vance Joseph—-both when it comes to free agents an the draft?
It’s a vicious cycle—-seemingly doomed to repeat itself over and over and over.