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Tag:Arizona Cardinals
Posted on: January 3, 2012 4:25 pm
 

Is Matt Flynn the next Kevin Kolb?

One way or the other, Flynn's getting paid this offseason. (US PRESSWIRE)

By Ryan Wilson

After what Packers backup quarterback Matt Flynn did to the Lions Sunday -- 31 of 44 for 480 yards and a team record six touchdowns -- we joked on the Pick-6 Podcast (embedded below for your listening pleasure) that the performance would mean the Redskins would be first in line to throw a ton of dough in Flynn's general direction.


We stress "joked."

Then on Tuesday we saw this tweet from ESPN 980's Chris Russell: "Heard Matt Flynn's great performance Sunday generated a lot of buzz & positive chatter amongst the big names of the #Redskins organization."

Of course he did.

Look, Flynn had a mind-blowing afternoon against Detroit, and he also played well during a 2010 start against the Patriots. And in that sense, he's already more accomplished than Kevin Kolb was before he was anointed "the next franchise quarterback" last offseason. The Cardinals gave up a second-round pick and cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, and signed Kolb to a $63 million extension. In return they got nine starts, nine touchdowns, eight interceptions, a 57.7 completion percentage and a ton of questions.

The takeaway: don't devote a non-trivial portion of your salary cap to someone who plays the most important position on the field based on a handful of snaps. Somehow, that wasn't entirely clear to everyone.

The Canton Repository's Steve Doerschuk writes that the Browns could also be interested in Flynn. Doerschuk doesn't cite a source but writes that "There is no question Mike Holmgren would rush soon-to-be-free agent Matt Flynn hard. The only question is how much the Browns president likes the [Flynn]."

Is Flynn an upgrade over Colt McCoy, who Holmgren selected in the third round of the 2010 draft? Sure. Is he so much better than McCoy that the Browns should pay him starter's money to find out? Almost certainly not.

But as CBSSports.com's Will Brinson pointed out in Monday's Sorting the Sunday Pile, Flynn made himself some coin with Sunday's effort. "That's going to translate well when he becomes an unrestricted free agent and potentially becomes the most desirable quarterback on the market. There are lots of teams that need a quarterback and Flynn will be on everyone's radar just as much as Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck. If someone falls in love with him, he might get Kevin Kolb money."

To paraphrase Chris Rock, we're not saying it's right … but we understand.

But if Flynn's in line for a big payday, the Packers might want to get their cut, too. Yes, Flynn's set to be an unrestricted free agent in a few months, but there's a chance Green Bay could franchise him. No, seriously.

Because there may be little time (or opportunity) to trade Flynn before the start of free agency in March, the Packers' might get the biggest return on their investment by franchising him. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Tom Silverstein explains:
In exchange for being tagged, Flynn would receive a one-year deal worth the average of the last five franchise tag numbers at his position. Last year, the franchise number for quarterbacks was around $14 million, and it's likely to be higher this year.

So once the Packers tag Flynn, that $14 million counts against their salary cap. Flynn would automatically become the highest-paid player on the team in terms of annual salary.

NFL teams are prohibited from trading franchise players. In fact, the rules say you may not franchise a player with the intent to sign him to a contract and then trade him. However, this rule has been broken before and the NFL tends to look the other way.
Silverstein adds that the move isn't without risk for the Packers. Putting aside the illegality of a tag and trade, there's also the issue of having a $14 million backup on your roster if other teams aren't sufficiently interested in trading for him. Which means that team president Ted Thompson would have to work with Flynn's agent "behind the scenes to find a trading partner and then negotiate a deal suitable to Flynn."

Silverstein was told by a "prominent agent who has represented a franchise player" that Green Bay could be in line for a first-round pick at minimum for Flynn, and maybe a first- and third-rounder.

That sounds, well, extreme, especially since Hue Jackson already traded for Carson Palmer. Then again, Redskins owner Dan Snyder isn't afraid to mortgage the future for the possibility of success now. 

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Posted on: January 2, 2012 8:51 am
 

Cards overcome blood, fainting to beat 'Hawks

J. Feely celebrates his game-winning kick (US Presswire).By Josh Katzowitz

While the Cardinals and Seahawks didn’t get much play Sunday -- and probably didn’t get many viewers, considering the Bengals, Broncos and Raiders were all fighting for playoff spots at the same time as Arizona in games that were close until the end -- give credit to Arizona for winning the 23-20 game in overtime to finish 8-8 on the season.

And give the Cardinals credit for being tough.

According to his father, Larry Fitzgerald Sr., Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald (Jr.) suffered a lung injury at some point Sunday and was spitting up blood on the sideline, and as the Arizona Republic writes, quarterback John Skelton fainted before the game after he got his knee drained and then completed 22 of 40 passes for 271 yards, a touchdown and an interception.

But what was most impressive with the Cardinals this season was the way they finished the year, winning seven of their final nine games and giving the kind of effort that will ensure coach Ken Whisenhunt’s return next season.

"It's just exciting to see the fight in this football team," Whisenhunt said. "And to get that win was big for us."

Although the Cardinals didn’t have a shot at winning the NFC West this year -- not with the season the 49ers have had -- the way they ended 2011 has to be encouraging for next year.

"Football is much like life," Skelton said, via the Republic. "There are a lot of ups and downs, and you've just got to rebound and be able to stay on the straight and narrow. Sometimes the chips are down, (but) we have great guys on our team that know that even when the cards are stacked against us, we still have a shot."

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Posted on: December 28, 2011 1:56 pm
 

Report: Cardinals will keep Kevin Kolb in 2012

The Cards aren't set to part ways with Kolb just yet. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

Previously, we'd pointed to the fact that the Cardinals have an option to get out from under Kevin Kolb's hefty contract before 2012 by not exercising an option on a $7 million roster bonus for Kolb at the beginning of the next league year.

There was some scuttlebutt that the Cardinals would end up bailing on the Kolb experiment a year in, but Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic reports Wednesday that Arizona will keep Kolb on the roster for at least one more year.

Arizona simply has too much invested -- they gave up a second-round pick and cornerback  Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie to Philly in the trade to acquire Kolb and then inked him to a $63 million extension -- in Kolb to call the dogs off on his tenure in Arizona after one year.

However, Somers notes that 2012 will be a "defining year" for Kolb as a Cardinal, because of the salary increase he'll see over the next few years. If Kolb can't stay healthy, be productive on the field for Arizona and generate some wins in 2012, there's a good chance Arizona could cut bait before paying him a roster bonus in 2013.

Cutting Kolb after 2012 means the Cardinals will save over $40 million of Kolb's deal, which would be a tremendous value, except it means that they'll have already paid more than $10 million a year for two years of Kolb's services in Arizona.

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Posted on: December 27, 2011 11:45 am
 

Coach Killers, Week 16: Is Sanchez the answer?

Coach Killers is your weekly look around the league at those performances, decisions and "Wait, what did he just do?!" moments that put the guy in charge squarely on the ol' hot seat.

By Ryan Wilson

Mark Sanchez - Jets

Is Sanchez in NY's future? Rex says yes. (AP Photo)
With each passing game, Sanchez confirms what everybody already suspected (even if Rex Ryan won't admit it publicly): he's an average NFL quarterback. There are worse fates (he could be Tyler Palko or Caleb Hanie), but Sanchez's success is contingent on the formula the Jets had working during the 2009 and 2010 seasons: ground, pound and a stifling defense.

In 2011, the rushing attack and the vaunted defense has been inconsistent, New York has fallen behind, and Sanchez hasn't been able to get the Jets in the end zone late in games. The result: eight wins against seven losses -- the latest coming Saturday against the Giants -- and the very real possibility of missing the playoffs for the first time in Rex Ryan's tenure as head coach.

“They were definitely the better team this year,” Ryan said after the 29-14 loss to the Giants. “Clearly, I was wrong. I will take the responsibility. It is on my shoulders and it should be. That’s just the way it is.”

That's what Ryan has to say -- the buck stops with him, after all -- but he's not calling offensive plays. That falls to Brian Schottenheimer, who dialed up 59 (fifty-nine!) pass plays. Sanchez completed just 30 attempts (51 percent), threw one touchdown vs. two interceptions and was sacked five times. By the end of the day, he looked out of sorts and out of confidence.

It's so bad that we're again hearing murmurs that Sanchez may not be the longterm answer at quarterback for the Jets, sentiments that come up a half-dozen times each season. CBSSports.com's Mike Freeman writes Monday that Schottenheimer's job is probably less secure than Sanchez's at this point.

"The inevitable Sanchez microscopic exam started immediately after that Giants loss. The site Profootballtalk.com reported the Jets were having doubts about Sanchez. The New York Post loosely reported that offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer might be coaching for his job this week. The latter, I’m told by someone I trust, is more likely the truth."

Wherever reality lies -- and Rex has both Mark and Brian's back-- the point remains: Sanchez has yet to prove that he's a capable NFL quarterback. He thrives as a complimentary piece within a system but he's not the guy you want trying to bring the team back from a late-game deficit. Maybe he'll evolve into that player someday, but through nearly three NFL seasons, he's more game manager than game winner.

Tim Tebow - Broncos

After seven wins in his first eight games as Denver's starting quarterback, Tebow has now dropped two in a row and the Broncos are 8-7. A Week 17 win gives them the division crown and a home playoff game, but that will likely be against the Steelers or Ravens.

For now, though, the big issue is if defenses have figured out how to stop Denver's option attack and whether the offense has an answer to it.

The Bills, with nothing to play for after having lost seven in a row, intercepted Tebow four times (returning two for touchdowns). And while Tebow's numbers are troubling (13 of 30 for 185 yards, 1 TD, 4 INTs and 3 sacks) he wasn't the same guy who was manhandled by the Lions back in Week 8. That Tebow looked confused all afternoon; this Tebow struggled with the Bills' scheme but wasn't overwhelmed to the point of paralysis. That scheme, by the way, wasn't some complicated Dick LeBeau zone blitz concoction. It was a stout four-man rush with seven men in coverage (including a quarterback spy). Tebow wasn't allowed to run for large chunks but was forced to stay in the pocket and win the game with his arm. Obviously, he couldn't do it.

Now the Broncos have a week to work out the kinks and hope everything's clicking should they make it into the postseason. Because if they don't … well, God help us because we're going to spend the spring and summer wondering who will be Denver's starting quarterback in 2012. And, really, nobody wants that.

Phillip Taylor - Browns

Taylor's gaffe was costly. (Getty Images)
Saturday's loss isn't entirely Phil Taylor's fault. The 2011 first-round pick wasn't solely responsible for the Ravens jumping out to a 17-0 lead. But it was his offsides penalty late in the fourth quarter with Cleveland trailing 20-14 that guaranteed the Browns would lose their fifth straight and remain winless in the AFC North this season.

After stuffing running back Ray Rice on third down, Baltimore faced a fourth-and-2 at the Browns' 37-yard line with just under two minutes to go in the game. The Ravens' options: attempting a 55-yard field goal, going for it on fourth down or punting. After a timeout, Baltimore's offense took the field, presumably to draw the Browns offside and keep the drive alive. Cleveland's defensive coaches warned players of as much … moments before Joe Flacco hard-counted and  coaxed Taylor into jumping early. First down Ravens, game over.

"It was the first hard count and we stayed onside. The second time, I just jumped," Taylor told The Associated Press. "Of course you feel bad but you just got to move on."

For the Browns, that means moving on to Week 17 where they will face the Steelers in a game Pittsburgh would like to win, even if it means doing so without starter Ben Roethlisberger, who was injured the first time these teams met in Week 14. (If the Ravens lose to the Bengals and Pittsburgh prevails in Cleveland, the Steelers would win the AFC North and get a first-round bye.)

Flacco, who has taken his share of criticism this season, was shocked Taylor fell for the hard count (it's the NFL equivalent of falling for the "pitcher fakes to third before throwing to first" routine in baseball).

“I don’t know if I’ve ever been in position for that to happen," Flacco said. "It’s never worked.”

There's a first time for everything, especially when you're facing the Browns.

Early Doucet - Cardinals

Poor Early Doucet. He was attacked by the seldom seen Paul Brown Stadium turf monster at the worst possible moment, and instead of hauling in possibly the easiest touchdown pass of his career, he was instead picking himself off the field as the ball skipped out of the end zone incomplete.

The specifics: facing 4th and 5 from the Bengals 17-yard line with 1:16 to go and trailing 23-16, Cardinals quarterback John Skelton threw to what appeared to be a wide open Doucet. Except he tripped and fell, as did Arizona's dwindling playoff hopes.


Turf monster avoids the pass interference call despite tripping Early Doucet.

It gets worse: the father of teammate Larry Fitzgerald called Doucet out, first on Twitter ("Doucet bombed this year he drops to many passes not a dependable No.2. Needs to work harder at his job. He dropped 5 TDs this year.") then to ESPN.com's Mike Sando.

“I just know that Larry invited him to come and work out with him this summer and some guys take initiative and do it, some guys don’t,” Larry Fitzgerald Sr. said. “But with the lockout, I thought he would have worked on it a little harder. That is me. People criticize me because they think I talk too much. That is just how I see it.”

On Monday, the Arizona Republic's Kent Somers wrote that "from previous conversations with Doucet and coaches, the Cardinals were happy with Doucet's off-season work. He was rehabbing from sports hernia surgery, and the Cardinals approved of his program. Receivers coach John McNulty complimented Doucet on reporting to training camp in shape."

Not to worry. Fitzgerald Sr. says he "wasn't picking on" Doucet. “I track when he drops the ball in critical situations. They use Larry the way they are going to use him, so they know others are going to be singled [in coverage]. The Ravens game, he dropped one on the goal line. I remember other games. Now that they’re out of the playoffs, I’m putting it out there.”

Can't wait to hear what Senior thinks about Kevin Kolb and/or John Skelton.

LeGarrette Blount - Buccaneers

Like Phil Taylor, it's unfair to point to Blount and say, "Yep, it's all his fault." But head coach Raheem Morris thought enough of Blount's performance to call him out after Tampa Bay's latest no-show performance, this time against the Panthers. On the Bucs' very first offensive play, Blount muffed the handoff from quarterback Josh Freeman. When an NFL team struggles with something as basic as a handoff it's probably time to hit the reset button. Which is exactly what will happen to Morris shortly after the season ends, and possibly to plenty of names currently on the roster, Blount included.

"To not get that play executed on the first play of the football game is unacceptable,'' Morris said according to the Tampa Tribune. "You're obviously not ready to play. I'm not ready to give up on him (Blount), but you can't let your team down that way.''

Blount was just as frank when asked about the play and the subsequent benching.

"It happens. Whenever you feel like something is not going your way, you've got to look somewhere else. If a back's been giving up the ball the whole season, you've got to find someone else to do the job. It was a miscommunication. We fumbled the ball.''

Meanwhile, veteran cornerback Ronde Barber, wholly unimpressed with the Bucs' defense, says that the same team that won 10 games last season is now full of players looking out for themselves. Such is the destiny for four-win clubs.

"That was an embarrassing performance, really, in the run game," Barber said after Tampa Bay allowed 270 yards rushing. "It's frustrating to watch because you know what the problems are. It looks like guys want to do their own thing. You've got to believe the guy next to you is going to do his job. … They didn't even need [Steve Smith] today. That just shows how far they've come and how far we've gotten away from what we used to be.''

(To be fair, the Panthers did have Cam, who has come so far, so fast, he's already ascended to one-word-name status). Which is why when we see the Bucs in 2012 they'll look nothing like the team that limped to the finish in 2011.

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Posted on: December 24, 2011 7:37 pm
Edited on: December 26, 2011 1:43 pm
 

Sorting the Sunday Pile, Week 16: Cam's the GOAT

Posted by Will Brinson


Sorting the Sunday Pile takes all of Sunday's NFL action, figures out the winners and losers and asks the big questions. Slightly condensed version this week as it's the holidays. No podcast, no picture of the week and only eight questions. Blame Mrs. Brinson if you're so inclined. Send your complaints, questions and comments to Will Brinson on Twitter.

The Greatest Rookie Season Ever?

That's right. The greatest rookie season ever is precisely what Cam Newton's going to wrap up in Week 17 against the Saints a game of no real consequence when it comes to his legacy as the best rookie in NFL history.

There should be no argument that Cam's season, even without the final week, goes down as the greatest season by a rookie quarterback in history. He has the record for most passing yards in a season (again, with a week to go) by a rookie. He has the record for most passing yards in a game by a rookie. He has the record for most rushing touchdowns in a season by any quarterback.

Of the seven rookie quarterbacks with 3,000 passing yards, Newton doesn't have the most passing touchdowns, but he doesn't have the most interceptions either. There shouldn't be any question that his rookie year is the greatest by any quarterback.

As far as other rookies go, you could argue for Eric Dickerson (more than 2,000 total yards and 20 touchdowns in 1983), Dick Lane (14 interceptions, two pick sixes for Night Train in 1952), Randy Moss (17 touchdowns and 1,313 receiving yards in 1998) or Lawrence Taylor (9.5 sacks -- before they were even counted -- in 1981) if you want.

But none of those guys dealt with the complexities of running an offense. None of those guys dealt with a lockout-shortened offseason. None of those guys performed the way they did under the intense scrutiny of 2011 Twitteratiland. None of those guys carried the expectations of the No. 1 overall pick who was supposed to save a franchise ... or cost a GM his job simply because no one was sure how good they'd be. None of those guys inspired the fierce debate that Newton did leading up to being drafted.

Cam's rejuvenated a franchise that was dead in the water and he might be a top-10 quarterback in the NFL right now. It's been a marvel to watch him perform and it's insane to think that there was a debate as to whether or not the Panthers should take him.

Winners

Matthew Stafford: The Lions are in the playoffs. That's worthy of "winner inclusion" all by itself. But the Lions were secretly facing a pretty bad situation, with the white-hot Chargers and the very good Packers over the next two weeks. 9-7 and getting snuck out of the playoffs wasn't out of the question at all. Until Stafford got his surgical precision on and shredded the San Diego secondary, going 29 of 36 with 373 yards and three touchdowns. Stafford's next up for the "is he or isn't he elite" debate.

Pete Prisco
: Yes, my CBSSports.com colleague and former life coach (Pete doesn't know it, but I fired him when he suggested I not wear socks with my loafers). Prisco's the only guy that I know of who refused to budge off his negative stance of Tebow during the Broncos winning streak. There might be an argument that Pete's stubborn and you might be inclined to call him a "hater" but with the way that Tebow egged on Saturday, there are going to be a LOT of people ripping him over the next week. And Prisco's the only one of those people who's stood his ground the whole time.

Kevin Kolb:
The Cardinals were eliminated from playoff contention on Saturday and that means Kolb avoided his worst possible nightmare. That would be "John Skelton marching Arizona to an improbable postseason run and the team deciding to bail on Kolb's albatross of a contract." Instead, Arizona now plays out the string and regroups for 2012, likely with Kolb as the starting quarterback for at least another year.

Matt Forte
: What's that, you say? Forte didn't play on Saturday. Oh, I know that. I also know that if the Vikings hadn't handed Adrian Peterson a monster contract before the 2011 season, things would be awkward right about now. Over the past month, the Bears have collapsed without Forte and Jay Cutler, meaning he's beefed up his leverage as an important player for the franchise and, with the Peterson injury, justified his rationale for wanting a new contract.

Jerome Simpson: Did you see his touchdown catch?

Turner's time might be up in San Diego. (US Presswire)

Losers

Norv Turner: A lot of credit goes to the Lions for the way they played on Saturday. Detroit is a very good team and a formidable opponent. But how can the Chargers not show up, especially knowing that the Broncos lost and that they were either a Bengals/Jets pair of losses or a Broncos loss in Week 17 away from making the playoffs? That's still not "controlling your own destiny" but out of everyone who was gifted an early Christmas present during the early games on Sunday, Turner and the Chargers were probably the luckiest. A 24-0 halftime deficit in the most critical game of the season isn't going to inspire any Spanos family members to keep their pink slips tucked away.

Jason Garrett
: No one's going to blame him for losing to Philly. That's what happens with Stephen McGee under center. But holy cow does Garrett have the hardest decision -- and the most scrutiny -- of his short career coming up over the next week. The Giants and Cowboys will play in Week 17, with a trip to the postseason and a division championship on the line. Tony Romo will almost certainly play, but will he be effective? Can Garrett gameplan in order to play to Romo's injury? Will he cough up a shot at the postseason? These are the ways we will judge him after next week's game. And by "we" I obviously mean "Jerry Jones and his potentially angry family."

Adrian Peterson
: AP's leg injury on Sunday was so brutal that I even feel like a jerk putting him in the "losers" section. But if you saw the horrific nature of Peterson's injury, you know precisely why he's not feeling like a winner right now. The Vikings announced after the game that it was a sprained knee but -- all due respect to Minnesota -- that's just not believable at all. The multiple reports that it's a torn ACL (and potentially worse) make a lot more sense. It's just sad that Peterson could miss significant time because he was playing in a meaningless game for a three-win team.

Rex Ryan: Ryan spent all week running his mouth about the New York-New York rivalry and when push came to shove, his guy Mark Sanchez fumbled on the Giants goal line and threw a "pass" to an offensive lineman that resulted in a safety in a devastating loss on Saturday. The Darrelle Revis/Antonio Cromartie combo got torched by Victor Cruz (that's his name, right?) and Brandon Jacobs got to say "It's time to shut up, fat boy." That's just embarrassing. Oh, right, and the Jets lost control of their own destiny with respect to the playoffs. It wouldn't be nearly as mortifying if Ryan hadn't run his mouth all week.

Pipedreams: Just like San Diego, the Eagles were very much a longshot to make the playoffs. But I'm telling you, there was a chance. Then the Giants killed that chance (adding to their winner-y-ness) with a win over the Jets. That means Week 17 is no longer a dream scenario for fans of long shots, because both early-season favorites are now removed from any chance of a postseason berth. You don't have to root for the Eagles or Chargers. In fact, you can root against them. But if you don't like ridiculous storylines and clowning around with playoff predictors then we're not friends.

The Big Questions

 
The new Tebow narrative could be awkward. (AP)

1. What's the new Tim Tebow narrative?
No, but it's on life support (and Prisco wants to pull the plug!). Look, Tebow can still win against Kansas City in Week 17, or even lose as long as the Chargers beat the Raiders. But think about how quickly this narrative could be absolutely flipped on its head: if Kyle Orton, the man Tebow replaced, beats Tebow in Week 17 because Tebow can't win late, and the Raiders beat the Chargers and make the playoffs, the Broncos new narrative will be as chokers. No, really, it will. And that is nuts when you consider where we were just two weeks ago.

2. Why does Leslie Frazier keep playing guys who are hurt?
NO CLUE. But this is a story that's flown under the radar for the past few weeks and it culminated with AP's injury against Washington, as well as the concussion that Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder suffered on Saturday. The Vikings are 3-12 after winning on Christmas Eve, but they didn't even need Peterson or Ponder to put up points -- it was all Joe Webb against the Redskins. Of course, winning, at this point, should be secondary. Frazier's top priority should be the health of his franchise quarterback and running back. Instead, these guys keep getting trotted out with injuries late in a lost season. That's not the sort of thing that keeps a job safe for long.

3. Did Raheem Morris get fired on Saturday?

Almost certainly. The Panthers went out and walloped Tampa Bay 48-16 in Charlotte, meaning that the Bucs lost their eighth game in a row.  Worse than the losses is the way they've happened: over the last four games, the Buccaneers have been outscored 158-64. They've given up 40 points to the Panthers and Jaguars and have topped 20 points just once since their trip to London in late October when things really started to unravel. It's an embarrassing collapse down the stretch and it's hard to blame the Glazer family and GM Mark Dominik when (not if) they fire Morris.

4. Anyone else getting fired?
Gotta think that Turner's done in San Diego now and that Romeo Crennel's the only interim hanging around. I can't buy that Jim Caldwell's saving his job so I'd add him to the list too. But I think any questions about Chan Gailey can now be reserved for a while, given the way he dismantled the Broncos on Sunday.

5.  Why should Tom Brady be worried?
Because his offensive lineman are dropping like flies. And while the Patriots are going to continue being good because that's what the Patriots do, there's absolutely cause for concern in New England if Logan Mankins and Matt Light are hurt for any length of time. As you may be aware, this isn't a team predicated on playing any sort of defense, and if they can't protect Tom Brady, there's little chance of them advancing in the postseason.

5. How mad are the 49ers?
Furious. And it doesn't matter that they won, because they gave up a rushing touchdown to Marshawn Lynch. They might hold the record for most games without one, but you know they wanted to make it the entire season. They did not.

6. Am I going to have to watch Matt Flynn on Christmas night?
Not as much as you might have feared. The 49ers won against the Seahawks on Saturday, and that means Green Bay hasn't clinched the top seed yet. Which means that Aaron Rodgers will stay in the game against the Bears for the entire game, barring an absolute Packers blowout.

7. Was Simpson's catch the play of the year?
Yup, it sure was. Maybe not the "play of the century" or anything insane like people are saying, but it was an absolutely bananas catch and it deserves incredible props. Watch -- it's going to be the type of thing you talk with your relatives about on Christmas. That's the way you can truly judge the greatness of a play.

8. Should Ben Roethlisberger play next week?
No. There's just no need. Joe Flacco and Ray Rice handled the Browns just fine in Week 16, and Charlie Batch/Rashard Mendenhall can do the same in Week 17. Rest the guy, run the ball, cross your fingers that Cincy can summon the strength to beat the Ravens on the road and let Roethlisberger rest.

GIF O' THE WEEK

I mean duh. Did you notice I liked it?



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Posted on: December 24, 2011 3:19 pm
Edited on: December 24, 2011 5:02 pm
 

Patrick Peterson leaves game with hurt Achilles

PetersonBy Josh Katzowitz

UPDATE: According to the Arizona Republic, Patrick Peterson suffered an Achilles sprain. It is not believed to be a long-term injury, but he also might not play in the team's season finale next week.

----------

Patrick Peterson has been one of the most explosive rookies this season. Hell, on special teams, he’s been the most explosive kick returner of anybody in the NFL, returning four punts for touchdowns and averaging 15.9 yards per attempt.

But with the Cardinals down 23-0 to the Bengals, the news for the team got worse in the third quarter when Peterson left the game with a left Achilles injury. His return to the game is doubtful.

Peterson was in the process of intercepting Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton when the injury occurred (though that pick was taken back after Arizona was called for a roughing-the-passer penalty), and he limped off the field and to the locker room.


Follow all the Week 16 action live: Inactives | Scoreboard

1 p.m. ET games:
CLE-BAL | DEN-BUF | TB-CAR | ARI-CIN | OAK-KC | MIA-NE | NYG-NYJ | STL-PIT | JAC-TEN | MIN-WAS

4 p.m. ET games:
SD-DET | PHI-DAL | SF-SEA




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Posted on: December 24, 2011 2:58 pm
 

Jerome Simpson's TD jump: Play of the year?

Simpson gets vertical for the score against the Cardinals. (AP)
By Will Brinson

Bengals wide receiver Jerome Simpson's gained notoriety for some, ahem, less than smart things, legally speaking.

But on Sunday against Arizona, Simpson nearly broke the internet with a ridiculous touchdown leap, jumping over linebacker Daryl Washington.

OK, jumping is actually an insult -- Simpson scored on a leap that would net him a gold in about six Olympic events, jumping 50 feet* in the air and 100 yards* horizontally before landing on his feet in the end zone.

You can peep video of the jump over at NFL.com and as you'll be able to tell from the GIF below (via Timothy Burke), it is absolutely worth your using your mouse.

And here's a GIF of the jump, via Timothy Burke:




*All numbers approximate.

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Posted on: December 23, 2011 10:39 am
Edited on: January 2, 2012 8:34 am
 

Five questions (or more) with Andre Roberts

A. Roberts has helped Arizona win six of its past seven games (US Presswire).

By Josh Katzowitz

Andre Roberts is a second-year receiver for the Cardinals, but if you haven’t heard of him, that’s to be expected. Arizona has been ignored for much of the year -- that’s probably because of San Francisco’s ridiculous season -- and even when the Cardinals got hot and started their current streak (they’ve won six of their past seven games), Roberts wasn’t a receiver on which the average fan focused.

He’s no fantasy football hero, and with Larry Fitzgerald sucking up all the attention for the entire Arizona receiving corps (and deservedly so), Roberts has quietly put together an effective season as the team’s No. 2 receiver. Not bad for a Division I-AA player who planned on going into the accounting field if pro football failed him.

On the season, he’s caught 41 passes for 487 yards and two touchdowns, but in the past three games, he’s begun to record impressive numbers. In Arizona’s upset of Dallas in Week 13, Roberts lead the team with six catches for 111 yards. Against Cleveland last week, he reeled in another six catches for 60 yards. With Fitzgerald in the lineup, Roberts won’t be the THE star, but still, he’s established a niche for himself for a team that seems to have plenty of potential.

We caught up with Roberts this week, and during our discussion, we touched on why John Skelton has played well after taking over the quarterback spot for Kevin Kolb, why Victory Monday can be so sweet and why playing football at the Citadel wasn’t the easiest road he could have taken.

Previous Five Questions (or more):

Sept. 16:
Actor/former Patriots DB Brian White

Sept. 30: Bills RB Fred Jackson

Oct. 7: Sweetness author Jeff Pearlman

Oct. 21: 49ers LB Aldon Smith

Nov. 4:
Bengals S Chris Crocker

Nov. 18: legendary coach Bum Phillips

Dec. 9: Jets DE Aaron Maybin

1. CBSSports.com: With the 49ers playing well, not a lot of people paid much attention to the rest of the NFC West. But you guys have won six of seven, and you’re still here. How’d that happen?

Andre Roberts: Just working hard after our losses. It’s easy to get down after having six losses straight (from Weeks 2-8). We kept working at it, we kept grinding away.

CBS: But the 49ers got off to such a fast start and left everybody else in the NFC West behind. Obviously, that’s not something you guys can control except when you play the 49ers. But on a mental level, how tough is it when the 49ers just keep on winning and pulling away in the division?

Roberts: For the most part, we just worry about us. You can’t worry about other teams. As for us and the other teams in the NFC West, it just makes us play harder. We have to compete with those guys in order to get in the playoffs.

2. CBS: But after beating Dallas and then San Francisco a few weeks back, that must have been a big thing for you guys.

Roberts: It was big for us. It was keeping our win streak alive. It’s really about the team we play every single week. We came out and worked hard. Just tried to do our best. Dallas is good and San Fran is a good team. We just worked hard and had a good time.

CBS: But everybody works hard. I could ask every guy in the NFL, and they all would say they work hard every single week. What’s different about the Cardinals lately?

Roberts: I don’t know, maybe Victory Mondays. If we win, we get Mondays off. We get a little more rest. I don’t know, it’s just something about our team. We have a resilience.

CBS: What do you guys do if you have a Victory Monday?

Roberts: For the most part, we come in and get treatment and work out. Hot tub and cold tub. But when we have a Victory Monday, we don’t watch film from Sunday. We don’t have to watch that until Wednesday. We still come in and work out and everything. But it’s just the feeling of having that day off; it’s us getting something from winning the game on the weekend.

A. Roberts has been Arizona's No. 2 receiver this year (US Presswire).3. CBS: You guys still aren’t out of playoff picture yet. You’ve already beaten Dallas and San Francisco. You have to win out and get a lot of help. It’s still a longshot, but you’re still here.

Roberts: Definitely, last year at this point of the year, we had no chance of making the playoffs. We’re really treating every game like a playoff game. In order for us to have the opportunity, we have to win out. We can win out and still not go, but that’s why we’re treating every game like it’s a playoff.

4. CBS: Kevin Kolb was obviously the big money free agent to come in, and for John Skelton, that must have been tough. Now, he’s had to take over for Kolb a few times because of Kolb injuries. How did John get through that and still manage to be effective when he has to play?

Roberts: He responded great to it. I’m sure he knew we were going to have a free agent come in. Kevin came in and we wanted him to start. But John handled it great. Like everybody else, he just works hard. He’s definitely a hard worker, and when you go about it like that, you’ll come out on the right side.

CBS: Was there a little bit more familiarity with John because you guys came into the league together and because he played some quarterback last year with you guys?

Roberts: It helped a lot with the familiarity of him and his ball and the way it comes at you and him knowing the playbook. I’m sure it helped him a lot. We didn’t have the offseason, but being able to see the defense and to read them in preparation to know routes we were running, it helps with the timing. 

5. CBS: You played at the Citadel. I want to know what that’s like -- with all the military exercises and the school and playing football on top of that. I don’t know how many guys in the NFL played at the Citadel, but I can’t imagine there are many. And I can’t imagine there’s anybody from VMI in the league. That has to be a tough existence in college.

Roberts: It’s really tough. At the Citadel, you have to deal with the military life and football and school. Most of the time you go to college, and you only have to worry about football and school. It can take a toll on you if you let it. That hardest year is that first year, when you’re introduced to it all. You come into football camp, and you go into school and everything is so new. It is tough.

The first-year guys everywhere have it rough. You don’t know the environment. You don’t know your teammates. You don’t know who your roommate is going to be, because our roommates weren’t football players but other people in the regular corps. All that stuff combined with classes and knowing what your major is, after the military exercises and then having to learn plays, it’s tough.

CBS: How did you do it?

Roberts: I had to fit in real quick. Football actually helps. It takes away some of the military duties. Football is a getaway and that’s how I used it. I used it to get my mind off school and military stuff. That what helped me the most.

CBS: I know both of your parents were in the military. Was that a route you were going to take if the NFL thing didn’t work out?

Roberts: I actually never wanted to go into the military. I went to a military college and my parents were military. I had a strict household growing up. I thought it wouldn’t be that hard, but I didn’t want to.

CBS: I read an interview with you when you were still in college, and you said that the only Division I offers you had were the Citadel and Coastal Carolina, and that since Coastal is by the beach, you didn’t think you’d be able to finish school. Is that true?

Roberts: I don’t know if I really needed the structure the Citadel gave me, but it helped me get through school and to grow up and to learn how to be a man. I didn’t know if I could have done that at Coastal.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com