It all feels very familiar.
A lost fumble being the last straw for a struggling starter early in the season. A first-round pick – taken 10th overall – getting fourth-quarter duty before getting his first NFL start the following week.
No, the parallels are not exact from the 2006 Kurt Warner-to-Matt Leinart transition compared to the current Sam Bradford-to-Josh Rosen move. But there are enough. Obviously, no one would think Bradford would ever bounce back here in Arizona to the level that Warner did (although, as I’ve gone back through the clips of that early 2006 season, no one – and I mean no one, including Warner – could have seen that coming back then either.) Obviously, the hope is that Rosen’s career turns out to be much more fruitful than Leinart’s.
Truth be told, Leinart played very well in his first start. He lost Larry Fitzgerald early with a hamstring pull – Fitz still caught a TD – and the Cards took leads of 14-0 and 20-10. It should’ve been 27-10 if Bryant Johnson hadn’t let a potential 49-yard touchdown bomb go through his hands in the end zone. Leinart was solid—22-of-35 for 253 yards, the two TDs, one crucial interception but also a final drive that put the Cards in field goal range trailing, 23-20. (Neil Rackers missed a 51-yard field goal.)
Result aside, I’d think the Cardinals would love for Rosen’s initial start to emulate Leinart’s. Rosen will have Fitzgerald still – that’s somewhat crazy to consider, given the time that has passed – and at this point in their careers, David Johnson is probably a better back than 2006 Edgerrin James (although Edge was still plowing ahead, and, again reading the clips, he was pretty ticked off the Cards didn’t run with the lead against the Chiefs.)
I remember thinking in the Chiefs game (and, a week and a day later against the Bears even after, you know, some stuff happened) that the Cardinals finally had their quarterback of the future. I mean, they did, but he was in a backup role. In this case, perhaps Rosen can quickly engender those feelings again.
“Hopefully,” Rosen said, “I can put on a good display this weekend.”
-- On the heels of Rosen saying this week that he never runs a play without knowing the “why” behind it, Rams veteran tackle Andrew Whitworth talked about how that team’s staff is sure to teach the “why” of the offense. That follows in what coach Steve Wilks has been saying for months about the Cardinals too.
“You want guys asking the question ‘Why’ and I always try and say make sure we are coaching the ‘why,’ ” Wilks said.
-- We will see if there is officially a change at cornerback between Jamar Taylor – who has been starting as the No. 2 guy – and Bené Benwikere. I would guess probably not, although Wilks said both should play and I can see Benwikere continuing to build up defensive snaps.
-- Wilks said he won’t make a decision on the backup QB until Saturday night. At stake, in part, is if Sam Bradford is active, he earns a hefty bonus. GM Steve Keim said Friday that won’t be the only factor. Obviously, you’re expecting Rosen to play well and not get hurt, so the backup in terms of the game may be moot.
-- After the news that linebackers Deone Bucannon and Haason Reddick are still climbing uphill to get comfortable in the system and their assignments, there may be some work for defensive end Markus Golden as well. Golden started last week, but in his first game back after ACL surgery, he only played 12 snaps and he was limited Wednesday and Thursday. The Cards want to be smart as he works back into the swing of things.
Defensive coordinator Al Holcomb smiled in talking about Golden on the field last week. “Extreme effort, violence at the point of attack, and a relentless mentality, which was awesome,” Holcomb said, before noting Golden’s lack of practice reps until the last couple of weeks has proven how Golden still must learn and knock off the rust. “But (I’m) pleased where he is headed,” Holcomb added.
-- How is it that the Cardinals haven’t beaten the Seahawks at State Farm Stadium since 2012?
-- With wide receiver Doug Baldwin back, the Seahawks have a much bigger piece for their passing puzzle. But they are going to want to run it a lot – it’s how they got their lone victory last week – and it would seem running back Chris Carson will be more important in the short term.
-- There has been some debate this week, but the beard of manager of media relations Mike Helm is looking quite splendid. Be sure to let him know if you agree.
-- I got a handful of tweets – not surprisingly – after posting Larry Fitzgerald’s “I’m here to win” quote Thursday, saying the Cardinals needed to trade Fitz to a contender. I have gotten many, many, (many) of these over the years at one time or another, spiking mostly when poor offense/quarterback play makes it harder to get Fitz the ball.
Fitz doesn’t love being 0-3. But he knows he picked to be here, and he’s good with that.
“Once you’re in the fight, you’re in it,” Fitzgerald said. “I was voted a captain, I am a leader on this team, and there is no blueprint. They weren’t saying, ‘Hey, you’re going to start off 3-0 and everything is going to be dandy.’ I’ve started off 4-0 and dropped the next eight, too (in 2012). You just never know in this business how it is going to go. All you can do is control your attitude and effort every single day and that’s the approach I’ve taken.”
-- There is a book drive before Sunday’s game. Please bring new or gently used books to donate before you head inside.
-- A final word from QB coach Byron Leftwich, and the increasing push to start rookie quarterbacks – all four of the top-10 picks at the position are already starting here in Week 4, and none because of injury.
“The whole world, we need it now. Right?” Leftwich said. “It’s not going to be different in our business. The key for us is making sure we put this kid in a position to be successful. We think Josh is ready. We understand he’s a rookie – we won’t be naïve about that – and not a 10-year guy, and he’s trying to learn. He’s going to learn on the field.”
See you Sunday.