Would Larry Fitzgerald have been the first pick overall in 2004 had Nate Poole not grabbed Josh McCown’s pass to knock the Vikings out of the playoffs in 2003 and knocked the Cardinals down (up?) from the No. 1 overall pick to No. 3? It came up today as there were Friday flashbacks to that game (Man, did Anquan Boldin rag-doll Poole in his celebration.) Here’s the thing: I say yes. I was there every time Denny Green gushed about Fitz coming out of college. I was also there when Green talked McCown up as the quarterback of the future.
It was suggested to me the Cardinals wouldn’t have passed on consensus No. 1 pick Eli Manning. Except the Cardinals passed up Philip Rivers and Ben Roethlisberger that year anyway, and, knowing what I know/knew about Green, I say yes – Fitz would’ve been a Cardinal regardless. And he’d have his thrill of being the No. 1 overall pick.
(And Poole wouldn’t have gotten a key to the city of Green Bay, and McCown wouldn’t have gotten a basket of cheese. Sorry. Stories for another day.)
So we go from Fitz coming to Arizona in part because of the Vikings to Fitz potentially playing in his home state for the final time. Fitzgerald was full at practice Friday and is not questionable because of his hamstring for the first time in a few weeks. During the open part of practice in the bubble, he ran full speed to make a catch cutting across the end zone, running into a padded area in the corner protecting players from some metal equipment. It was no big deal, but it was notable – the man is 35, coming off a hamstring issue, and he is still going full bore in no-defense passing drills during a Friday practice.
You can argue if a QB should have gone No. 1 in 2004, but you can’t argue that Fitzgerald wasn’t worthy of the spot. He continues to prove it.
-- The Vikings haven’t been able to run the ball consistently well this season – not that they have needed to do so. Their passing game – yeesh. But they might have some chances against the Cardinals, who have some good things to defend the run and then undermine themselves way too often.
“There is frustration,” defensive coordinator Al Holcomb said. “At the end of the day, I stick to my guns in terms of, we’re going to just re-teach it, each and every day. We have to start all over at times and re-teach basic fundamentals, fits, gap control, hand violence, all those things.
“To me, it’s simple. It’s a simple concept. That’s my gap. I have it. I might have to move based on pullers and things of that nature, that’s something we have to get down. We have to do a better job, I’m demanding from the players each and every day.”
Holcomb admitted he’d be saying similar things if the Cardinals were leading the league in rush defense, because the standard has to be high. And coach Steve Wilks said it actually makes sense that teams re-teach fundamentals throughout the season, because too often it’s easy to get sloppy as a season moves on. All that said, that the Cardinals are still having the same kinds of issues five games in is not ideal.
-- The Vikings are 31st in the NFL at 65.8 rushing yards a game. The only team they are ahead of? The Cardinals, at 64.6.
-- It’s hard not to go into every game thinking, yes, David Johnson is the key.
-- The Vikings have Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen. Who does Patrick Peterson chase? Diggs makes sense, with Thielen working inside so often. But watching what the Cards do with P2 is something I’m watching.
-- I’m sure someone will want to knock on wood for me, but the fact Josh Rosen has yet to turn the ball over in his two starts is impressive. Kirk Cousins has ripped up the league and only has two interceptions, but he has lost four fumbles. If the Cards can get to him – and starting left tackle Riley Reiff will not play – maybe the Cards can win the turnover battle again.
-- Sam Bradford goes back to Minnesota not exactly how he expected to do it. What a roller-coaster from the time he dominated the Saints in the 2017 season opener.
-- We will see how everything plays out Sunday with actives and inactives, but I am guessing new wide receiver Kendall Wright gets a chance to be on the field. Hearing Steve Keim note that there have been too many drops – after he said how well Wright catches the ball – makes me think the veteran will get a chance against his former team.
See you Sunday.