Tag Archives: Arizona Cardinals

Cardinals Battle Against Championship Drought and History of Mediocre Quarterbacks

16 Nov

By Barry Federovitch

For the Chris Murray  Report

Can Drew Stanton lead the Cardinals charge to a Super Bowl title and the Cards first NFL championship since 1947.

Can Drew Stanton lead the Cardinals charge to a Super Bowl title and the Cards first NFL championship since 1947.

The story of a good sports curse is never just about the hex itself, but like real estate is centered in location.

Want to embellish a Curse of the Bambino? Where better than in New England, where more than a century of baseball fans have been smitten by a team thanks in large part to legendary scribes like Peter Gammons, Bob Ryan and Dan Shaughnessy?

Want a billy goat curse? Where better than in Chicago, another great sportswriting town? And the last seventy-five years of general sports misery seem like a perfect match between Cleveland and its long cast of talented scribes.

Old pain gels with old-style pontification, which is perhaps why the suffering of the the NFL’s Cardinals, owners of the league’s best record at 8-1, hasn’t gotten nearly its rightful due online, in print or even film. From Chicago to St. Louis to Arizona (where they moved after the 1987 season), they are the Army Brats of the NFL, never staying long enough to forge meaningful friendships. Add an almost inexplicable inability to secure a franchise quarterback and the truth is far more disturbing than any fictitious curse.

The Cards haven’t won an NFL title since 1947. That’s a year before the Indians won their last World Series, 17 years before the Browns won their last NFL title and only two years after the Cubs last appeared in the World Series. Babe Ruth was still alive, not nearly as many people cared about the Red Sox and let’s not even discuss this year’s Underdog Flavor of the Decade, the Kansas City Royals, who were nearly a quarter-century from existence.

Six years ago, the Cardinals reached their first Super Bowl, which not only marked the first time they not only got a chance to play for a title in 60 years, but one of only seven seasons since 1920 that they have reached double-digits in wins. They have never won 12 in a season and have only reached 11 three times, something franchises like the Patriots do with regularity.

Still dwelling on curses? When you have won only six playoff games in almost a century, that’s far worse, an almost unabated run of ineptitude and misery.

For most of their 94 years, the Cardinals have been under-represented in print for at least two reasons: mostly they have been among the league’s worst franchises, but also they lack long-standing ties to a particular city. And when they had ties, they left in forgettable fashion, unlike the Brooklyn Dodgers.

In 1947, Jackie Robinson broke baseball’s color barrier and helped Brooklyn win the pennant. That same year Paul Christman quarterbacked the Chicago Cardinals to the NFL championship. No one remembers Christman, who went an abysmal 3-for-14 in a 28-21 win over the Eagles highlighted by two long Charlie Trippi touchdowns (one by run and another by punt return). But then a large part of Cardinals history since isn’t particularly memorable either.

After the 1957 season, the Dodgers left Brooklyn for Los Angeles, just two years after their only world title and a year after their final pennant. The football Cardinals left Chicago only two years later, but their swan song in the Windy City was very different; they went 7-28-1 over their final three seasons, most of the time their home attendance was below 25,000 and the Bears’ success made their departure for St. Louis almost unnoticed.

Their arrival was no Milwaukee greeting of the Braves nor West Coast success for the Dodgers either. It took the Cardinals until their 15th season in St. Louis to record a 10-win year. Back-to-back playoff appearances were followed by a 10-4 year in 1976 that just missed out on the playoffs.

The Cards looked like they were on their way to a fourth straight strong season in 1977 until an epic four-game slide down the stretch that included a six-touchdown game by Bob Griese and the Dolphins and the first home victory by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The Cardinals’ 1977 slide, though not necessarily caused by, for the most part marked the end of Jim Hart’s effectiveness as starting quarterback.  A four-time Pro Bowler, Hart also had 10 seasons with more interceptions than touchdown passes. At 87-88-5, he is the franchise’s leading signal caller, underlining a disturbing trend for Cardinal quarterbacks: they were usually mediocre at best and when they were good, they weren’t good for long.

Cardinals fans rarely get to enjoy the services of a top-notch quarterback for long as only Hart and  Neil Lomax have started as many as 100 games with Charley Johnson (1961-69; 36-28-5) and Carson Palmer (16-6) their only top-10 quarterbacks with winning records. And the 35-year-old Palmer just tore his ACL.

Think about that for a moment.

You could remove Aaron Rodgers, Brett Favre and Bart Starr (going on 40 years of excellence) from the Packers’ best quarterbacks list and Green Bay would still have a better history at the position than the Cardinals. So should anyone be surprised when a candidate to become the best quarterback in team history (Palmer) is forced to yield the starting mantle to Drew Stanton, who has thrown only 93 career passes?

If the Cardinals get past the NFC North-leading Lions this week (a team familiar with difficulty at the quarterback position the last half-century), there are still two intradivisional matches with the Seahawks and one with the 49ers left on the schedule (plus a tough Week 14 matchup with the Chiefs). Given all those obstacles, it seems unlikely that this will be the year to end Cardinal fans’ long-time yearning for a championship.

But then who will notice? When you don’t have a bambino or a billy goat, not to mention a quarterback, it’s very easy to go 67 years without a very large bandwagon.

Advertisements

Maclin Showing He’s a More Versatile Receiver Than DeSean Jackson

28 Oct

By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

Jeremy Maclin has been the big home run hitter among the Eagles receivers. Photo by Webster Riddick.

Jeremy Maclin has been the big home run hitter among the Eagles receivers. Photo by Webster Riddick.

PHILADELPHIA—Amid the wreckage that was the Eagles 24-20 loss to the Arizona Cardinals, there was the outstanding performance by wide receiver Jeremy Maclin.

Lost in all the talk of safety Nate Allen getting burned on Carson Palmer’s game-winning 75-yard touchdown pass to John Brown, Maclin caught 12 passes for a career-high 187 yards and two touchdowns.

Even bigger than his numbers was the versatility that Maclin showed as a receiver on the passes he caught from quarterback Nick Foles. Maclin caught passes across the middle, on corner routes, screen passes and on deep routes.

“He’s a legitimate deep threat and he played a hell of a game for us (Sunday),” Eagles head coach Chip Kelly said.

To his credit, Maclin was more concerned about his team being on the short-end of a heartbreaking loss than his own individual performance.

“I’ve never been a stat guy… Today was just one of those days where my number was called. The win would be so much sweeter,” Maclin said.

The two touchdowns Maclin scored should tell you that he is more than a one-trick pony as a wide receiver. On his first score, Maclin used his speed on a flanker screen that enabled him to score on a 21-yard touchdown pass. Late in the third quarter, the former Missouri star caught a 54-yard bomb for a score.

“Mac did a great job of keeping his route on and really just beating them with speed. I just wanted to get the ball out there and let him come down with it. He had a great game,” Foles said.

Maclin leads the team in receptions with 39 and receiving yards with 632 (ninth in the NFL)and six touchdowns. He is averaging 16 yards per catch.

Kelly said he’s not surprised by Maclin’s performance so far this season. He said he was looking for him to do this last season before he injured his knee during training camp and was out for the year.

“I was so disappointed for Jeremy a year ago when he got hurt because I thought in terms of what we do, what a real outstanding player he could be in this system, and we’re starting to continue to see that,” Kelly said. “But I think he’s a difficult one on one matchup. He’s got good size, he’s got good speed.”
For those Eagles fans still whining over the loss of DeSean Jackson, now playing for Washington, you need to be happy with what you have at the receiver position with Maclin because it’s not just about stretching defenses with his speed, he is a better route-runner and is not shy about going across the middle.

“I think (Maclin) can stretch it from a vertical standpoint, but he can also run after the catch. I think he proved that not only early here in his career, but he proved that in college,” Kelly said. “We used him a little bit as a punt returner [and he] had a good punt return for us. We’re just starting to get to know him a little bit better than some of the other guys that have been here for a year.”

While Jackson’s speed did a good job of stretching opposing defenses last season, he was basically a one-trick pony who is not as good a route runner as Maclin and not as versatile. You’re not going to see Jackson, who leads the NFL in yards per catch, running across the middle to get passes.

Maclin also showed he had some heart in Sunday’s game. After a collision with Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson, Maclin was nursing a bloody ear and had to go through the concussion protocols before he was allowed back in the game.

Throughout Sunday’s game, Maclin was all over the place hustling and making plays for his team. On one play after an incomplete pass he came barreling through the Arizona sideline knocking down the Gatorade table and getting doused with the beverage.

I don’t think Maclin’s speed is as explosive as Jackson’s, but I think Maclin so far this season is proving that he can do more than just go long. He can do it all. With all the weapons in the Eagles arsenal on offense, Maclin is slowly but steadily becoming the Eagles go-to guy in the passing game.

Eagles Secondary Comes up Big in Win over Cardinals

2 Dec

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

Cary Williams intercepts a Carlson Palmer pass in the Eagles 24-21 win over the Arizona Cardinals. Photo by Webster Riddick.

Cary Williams intercepts a Carlson Palmer pass in the Eagles 24-21 win over the Arizona Cardinals. Photo by Webster Riddick.

PHILADELPHIA—The Eagles secondary came into Sunday’s game against the Arizona Cardinals knowing that they had a tough assignment going up against Larry Fitzgerald and the rest of the Cards physical receiving corps.

The Birds corners and safeties figured that Cardinals receivers were going to get their fair share of catches in the game, but they were determined to not allow them to totally dominate the game.

“They were going to try to be physical with us,” said safety Nate Allen. “So we knew we had to be physical and re-route them and get our hands on them and mess up their timing on the routes and I think we did a good job of that today.”

They won some battles and they lost a few battles, but more importantly the Eagles secondary helped the Eagles to win the war in a 24-21 win over the Cardinals Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field.

“I believe the refs let us play today and that was a good thing,” said Eagles cornerback Bradley Fletcher. “When you go up against guys like Floyd and Fitzgerald and you can be a little more physical, it definitely helps out.”

It could be argued, especially by the Cardinals receivers, that there were a few penalties against the defense that weren’t called in the game. On the flip side of that, Arizona receivers did their share of pushing off, too.

“If the wide receivers are going to play us physically, we’re entitled to our space,” said Eagles cornerback Cary Williams. “If a wide receiver runs into me, I’m entitled to get my hands up in defense, if I happen to hold, it’s a part of the game. They were pushing off the whole game, in my opinion, but I like those kinds of games because you’re out there being physical. You’re the playing the game the way it’s supposed to be played.”

Not only did the Birds secondary get a pair of interceptions, but they kept Fitzgerald and company from dominating the game. None of the Cardinals receivers had more than 100 yards in receptions. Michael Floyd had five catches for 99 yards and a touchdown while Fitzgerald had five catches for 72 yards.

“I think we had a great game-plan in place,” said Williams, who had one of those two interceptions off Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer. “I think (defensive coordinator Billy) Davis called a good game today.

“Some scenarios we weren’t very good in communication, but for the most part secondary-wise we played pretty good thanks to the pass rush. Without that, I don’t think it would have as dominant of a performance.”

Eagles safety Nate Allen get his first interception of the year against the Cardinals. Photo by Webster Riddick.

Eagles safety Nate Allen get his first interception of the year against the Cardinals. Photo by Webster Riddick.

The Eagles front-seven had five sacks and forced a fumble. They constantly put pressure on Palmer throughout the game. That made it easier for the corners to go one-on-one with the Cardinals receivers.

“Those guys stepped up and took on the challenge of playing this top receiving group and there were a lot of times when they were one-on-one today,” Davis said. “Throughout the game, I was mixing in brackets and combos and clouds over the top of them, but there were a lot of snaps where it was ‘hey get your man, you gotta hold up and they did.”

After giving up a pair of second-half touchdown passes that enable to Cardinals to overcome a 24-7 deficit, the Eagles secondary clamped down on the Arizona receivers late in the game when it mattered most.

The Cardinals started their final drive at their own 10 yard-line with 2:03 left in the game, but only got as far as their own 15. On the game’s final three plays, the Eagles defensive backs allowed no room for Cardinals receivers to get open. On fourth down, Fletcher batted away a Palmer pass to Floyd.

“Fletch made a great play on that curl route and that was huge, getting off the field like that,” said Allen, who also had an interception in the game. “When push comes to shove and it’s ‘hey make a play or keep the drive going, Fletch did a great job with that.”