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  • [Cardinals] Smith links bad execution, coaching

    Kent Somers
    The Arizona Republic
    Dec. 13, 2004 12:00 AM

    Cardinals running back Emmitt Smith has gained considerable knowledge in his 15 NFL seasons, but there are questions for which he has no answers. Such as, how could the Cardinals play so poorly in the first half and so well in the second Sunday against the *****?

    "If I knew the answers to those things I would know how to find Osama bin Laden," he said.

    The offense went nowhere in the first half, gaining 135 yards and scoring three points. advertisement




    But in the second half, it rallied for 235 yards and 25 points, helping to send the game to overtime. Smith had little room to run in the first half, gaining 13 yards on 10 carries, but he was effective in the fourth quarter, gaining 36 yards on five carries, including an 8-yard touchdown run.

    It wasn't enough. The Cardinals lost 31-28 in overtime.

    In the first half, Smith was getting hit in the backfield. In the second, he was finding creases in the defense.

    "When you have guys taking shots in the backfield, untouched, that's an execution problem," he said. "I don't think guys actually got physically beat that bad, that's a mistake somewhere along the line."

    Some of the mistakes the Cardinals are making are "elementary," he said.

    Players need to evaluate their effort, study habits and communication with each other, Smith said. And he seemed to suggest that coaching plays a part, too.

    "I think we have enough experience and played in enough games to know how to overcome certain things," he said. "Sometimes you have to overcome coaching. Sometimes you just have to do that."

    That Smith was even playing was amazing to Cardinals coach Dennis Green. Smith missed last week's game against Detroit with a sprained left toe, and it bothered him throughout this week.

    Smith was "pretty amazed," he said. But there are questions about how much he has left. He's in the last year of his contract, but sounded Sunday as if he wants to continue playing.

    "I still think I can be a 1,000-yard back for the Cardinals or for anybody," he said. "You've seen me perform this year."

    But he came to Arizona with the desire to help the Cardinals make the playoffs. That hasn't happened.

    "The only thing I could say is that my mission has failed," he said. "I feel like I've failed my position and feel like I have not done enough."

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  • DJRamFan
    [Cardinals] Smith wants to keep playing
    by DJRamFan
    Kent Somers
    The Arizona Republic
    Dec. 17, 2004 12:00 AM

    Running back Emmitt Smith appears to be leaning toward playing next year, provided there is an opportunity, but the chances of Smith playing for Arizona appear unlikely.

    Smith's contract with the Cardinals expires after this season but he doesn't sound like a guy who is ready to retire.

    "I don't have no problem playing next year," Smith, 35, said Thursday in his weekly interview session with reporters. "I've enjoyed my stay here with Denny (Green). He's given me an opportunity to get back on the football field and showcase my talent, whereas earlier this year there was a chance I was going to be a backup." advertisement




    Coach Dennis Green declined to address the issue of Smith's future on Thursday.

    "I haven't thought about anything but the Rams right now," he said, referring to Sunday's game. "We have three games to go and I'm focused on the first game."

    Smith has gained 732 yards on 202 carries this season, a 3.6-yard average, and has rushed for nine touchdowns.

    He came to Arizona in 2003, signing a two-year, $7.5 million deal, with the goal of helping the team make the playoffs, but that hasn't happened. The Cardinals went 4-12 last year and are 4-9 now.

    "I'm not totally happy with the way I performed, in terms of the success of the team and all," Smith said. "That's really what's important, outside my individual performance.

    "If the opportunity comes and presents itself to come back, I would seriously look at that and take it into consideration. But if the opportunity does not come, then I feel like I have failed my mission."

    Smith also said comments he made last Sunday about coaching were misinterpreted.

    After the 31-28 loss to San Francisco, Smith said that players sometimes have to overcome coaching. What he meant, he said, is that players occasionally have to make last-second adjustments on the field.

    That might mean doing something you're not necessarily coached to do, he said, but that's not an indictment of Green and his staff.

    "I feel like the comment was definitely taken towards a negative," Smith said. "I didn't mean it toward Denny or any of the coaching staff that we have. But you guys (reporters) in such a rare form right now, so busy wanting to jump on somebody's head, you're willing to take it and put it in your article and write it in the way that you mean it."

    Green said the remark didn't bother him, but on Monday he reminded players to be careful about what they say to reporters.

    "A lot of times you say a lot and only a certain amount gets written," Green said. "I didn't pay that much attention to it, to be...
    -12-18-2004, 02:01 PM
  • DJRamFan
    [Cardinals] Squandered opportunity
    by DJRamFan
    Kent Somers
    The Arizona Republic
    Dec. 13, 2004 12:00 AM

    The Cardinals vowed to learn a valuable lesson from their loss to San Francisco in early October, when they imploded in the final minutes and lost in overtime.

    And they did. On Sunday, they stumbled around early, rather than late, frantically overcame a 25-point deficit in the second half but then lost in overtime 31-28.

    San Francisco has two victories this season, both in overtime over the same team by the same score. Kicker Todd Peterson ended both with field goals, his 31-yarder Sunday just a yard shorter than his one in October. advertisement




    "They came back on us almost like we did the last time we played them," ***** coach Dennis Erickson said.

    The Cardinals' playoff hopes have been harder to shed than a bad reputation, but Sunday's loss in front of 35,069 at Sun Devil Stadium surely did it. The loss dropped them to 4-9, extended their losing streak to four and assured them of a losing season, their 15th in 17 seasons in Arizona.

    "I don't know if there's even a lesson in this one," defensive end Bertrand Berry said. "It's a tough one to accept."

    The Cardinals concocted a marinade full of mistakes, many of them on special teams. Karl Williams mishandled a punt, leading to a ***** touchdown. Kicker Neil Rackers missed a 34-yard field goal. A penalty on an attempted field goal kept a ***** drive alive, and a block in the back on a kickoff return gave the Cardinals poor field position.

    And all of that happened in the first 11 minutes. It was an excruciatingly slow, incompetent start.

    "I'm at fault," coach Dennis Green said of the team's poor play in the first half. "I'm the head coach, so I'm at fault."

    When the ***** opened the second half with a 69-yard touchdown drive, their 28-3 lead looked insurmountable.

    Maybe it was the incredible embarrassment looming, but something seemed to click with the Cardinals. The defense held the ***** scoreless on five straight possessions. And the offense started to move, putting together touchdown drives of 87, 53 and 56 yards.

    Just like that, it was 28-25, with the Cardinals marching for the possible victory.

    Cornerback David Macklin's fumble recovery gave them the ball at the ***** 20 with 2:16 remaining, and they quickly moved to the 4.

    There, quarterback Josh McCown saw tight end Freddie Jones, open in the end zone.

    "I didn't think I could get any more wide open," Jones said. "I looked back and all I could see was the ball coming. I said, 'Oh yeah, that's game time. That's game time.' "

    But ***** cornerback Joselio Hanson came off his man, receiver Bryant Johnson, to knock the ball away, and the Cardinals...
    -12-13-2004, 10:06 AM
  • DJRamFan
    [Cardinals] Cards feeling defeated
    by DJRamFan
    4-9 record takes its toll on Green

    Tim Tyers
    The Arizona Republic
    Dec. 14, 2004 12:00 AM

    The demeanor of Cardinals coach Dennis Green on Monday was that of a man ready to cut loose with a refrain from an old country song: "You ripped my heart out and stomped that sucker flat."

    The man who predicted a winning season and possible playoff berth upon his arrival had nothing good to say about his four-win team, or the way the season has transpired during his first season with the Cardinals.

    San Francisco, with only two wins, is considered the worst team in pro football. But both of its wins have come against the Cardinals, including Sunday's 31-28 win in overtime, so where does that leave the Cardinals? advertisement




    Emmitt Smith, the NFL's career rushing leader, said after Sunday's loss that the team is making elementary mistakes and insinuated that some of the problem is coaching.

    "You know," Green said, "everybody has their own opinion. I will reserve mine."

    To his credit, Green didn't dodge the issue when asked if he was worried about losing the attention of his team.

    "Absolutely," he said. "You worry about losing everybody. I don't think (owner) Mr. Bill Bidwill is very happy right now. I don't think he counted on hiring a new coach and having the new coach be 4-9. It's everybody. I don't think the fans counted on being 4-9. I know I didn't count on being 4-9 . . .

    "There is a chance to lose everybody when you get into a situation where you are not winning . . . "

    Green took on a huge task when he came to Arizona in January to rebuild the franchise. Yet, Sunday's loss guaranteed the Cardinals their 15th losing season in the past 17 years. The question now is, how much progress has been made?

    "I would hope to say a lot of things are better, but you know . . . sometimes we are in a bottom line business. In fact, most of the time we are.

    "We only had 35,000 people there (Sunday). That's not a very big crowd, not a lot of people for the fifth-largest city in America. That's not a lot of people who want to come and watch you play in your stadium."

    In Sunday's game there were five major errors on special teams, the offense didn't report for duty until the second half and Arizona's gambling defense was once again porous against the run. Nondescript Maurice Hicks, an undrafted free agent, not only became the eighth rusher to top 100 yards against Arizona, but his 139 yards came within 5 yards of matching his season total entering the game.

    Green said the Cardinals are not physical enough at the point of attack against the run. They've tried to offset that with blitzes, but sometimes the formation takes away the blitz and the lack of physicality...
    -12-14-2004, 10:30 AM
  • Nick
    Things continuing to come undone in Arizona
    by Nick
    James angered by lack of running plays
    Kent Somers
    The Arizona Republic
    Oct. 9, 2006 12:00 AM

    Running back Edgerrin James harshly criticized the team's play-calling after Sunday's 23-20 loss to Kansas City, saying the Cardinals didn't run the ball enough in the fourth quarter.

    "We just got away from the run," said James, who gained 71 yards on 24 carries. "That's the stupidest thing. You have to be able to finish the game. You got to give us a chance, you know."

    James carried four times for 10 yards in the fourth quarter.

    Beginning with a possession that started with 9:29 remaining, the Cardinals passed on four consecutive plays. They were leading 20-17.

    "That's like something new to me," James said. " I thought we played to win the game. You sit back and you wait and you say, 'OK, this is when my opportunity will come, this is when we're gong to wear them down and we're go to play to win the game.' But it's like we're doing the opposite."

    The Cardinals did try to run on the last possession of the third quarter. James gained 9 yards on first down but was stopped on second and third downs.

    Coach Dennis Green said that probably had something to do with the decision to pass later.

    "We've got a certain amount of confidence in our passing attack," Green said. "I don't know if that's misplaced or not. And we don't have as much confidence in the running game, and I don't know if that's misplaced or not, to be honest with you. When you're 1-4, you're not sure of anything."

    MRI for Fitzgerald
    An MRI exam today should reveal the severity of Larry Fitzgerald's right hamstring injury, sustained during the first quarter Sunday.

    The Pro Bowl receiver said he injured it on a "pretty stupid play." The ball went to the opposite side of the field and he tried to position himself for a block.

    "I was trying to crack back on a guy, and he just kind of moved out of the way at the last minute," Fitzgerald said. "When I was lunging, he wasn't there. I felt it pop on me."

    Fitzgerald had caught two passes for 15 yards, including a 5-yard touchdown pass from Matt Leinart, but he knew he was finished for the day.

    "I couldn't even straighten my leg out, so I knew I (couldn't) continue," he said.

    Green considered the injury "fairly serious," but Fitzgerald refused to speculate.

    Two thoughts
    Down 17-10 at halftime, Kansas City coach Herm Edwards had two thoughts: The score could have been worse, and the Chiefs couldn't afford to allow the Cardinals to score another touchdown.

    "If we let them score one more touchdown, it's over," he said. "We did a pretty good job of that, holding them...
    -10-10-2006, 08:13 AM
  • MauiRam
    Ex NFL Scout Believes Whiners Are Screwing Up ..
    by MauiRam
    Matt Maiocco
    CSNBayArea.com
    The late Tony Razzano was the head of the ***** scouting department and deserves as much -- if not, more -- historical accolades as Bill Walsh for the franchise's drafts that largely stocked the roster with players that won five Super Bowls.

    His son, Dave, 50, spent his first season out of the game last year after more than two decades when the Arizona Cardinals let him go as a regional scout following the franchise's first Super Bowl.

    Dave Razzano, who worked for the ***** from 1988 to '92, has been with five teams that went to Super Bowls. Two of those Super Bowl teams had Joe Montana. Kurt Warner was the quarterback of the other three. Razzano has some strong opinions about the *****' current quarterback position.

    He got fired after more than a decade as a Rams scout four years ago in large part because of his defense of a critical pre-draft evaluation of quarterback Alex Smith, Razzano told Comcast SportsNet.

    "I had him rated as a non-starting player," Razzano said of Smith, whom the ***** selected with the top overall pick in the 2005 draft.

    Even as Smith enters his sixth professional season, ***** followers are divided on Smith's ability to be a successful NFL quarterback. Smith has said he realizes he will not be able to win over all of his naysayers. And when it comes to those critics, Razzano is at the front of the line.

    "I thought he was way over-drafted and way overrated," Razzano said. "I don't think I've been proven wrong. The guy hasn't done it, and he'll get another opportunity. He's getting a little better with the touchdown throws to Vernon Davis. But, boy, the guy I saw at Utah, I was shocked people had him rated that high."

    Razzano said then-Rams general manager Charlie Armey asked him to change his grade on Smith to conform with the higher grades others in the Rams' draft room had assigned Smith. The scene escalated into an ugly shouting match. Razzano said he refused to alter his evaluation of Smith. It was the beginning of the end with the Rams for Razzano, he said. He was fired after the 2006 draft (Armey did not immediately respond to CSNBayArea.com's call.)

    Razzano quickly landed with the Cardinals. Shortly after the Cardinals' appearance in the Super Bowl, Razzano's contract was not renewed after cuts to the team's scouting department, he said.

    Having worked in the scouting departments for three NFC West franchises, Razzano pays close attention to the happenings within the division. He lives in Sacramento and remains intrigued by the *****' quarterback situation. He said he is a firm believer the ***** are starting the wrong quarterback.

    Smith got back on the field last season after missing most of 2007 and all of 2008 with shoulder injuries. He showed enough to head coach Mike Singletary and offensive...
    -07-14-2010, 10:17 AM
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