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Larry Fitzgerald on Cardinals offense: ‘I have to laugh to keep from crying’

Larry Fitzgerald could be the best wide receiver in the NFL, but he’s lost in the Arizona Cardinals offense. The Cardinals have not had consistent play at quarterback since Kurt Warner retired, and the fact that Fitzgerald has been able to produce in the meantime is amazing in itself. He has averaged 54 yards per game this season, despite a constant carousel of below-average quarterbacks under center.

Following the Cardinals’ 7-6 loss to the New York Jets on Sunday — their eighth in a row — Fitzgerald tried to explain the emotions that go along with playing for a team that ranks dead last in the NFL in total offense.

“I have no words,” Fitzgerald said according to the Arizona Republic. “I have to laugh to keep from crying.”

Rookie quarterback Ryan Lindley certainly hasn’t been the answer for Arizona, but it’s not like the team is missing much with John Skelton and Kevin Kolb watching from the sidelines. The Cardinals’ defense has played well for much of the season, but the offense is simply incapable of putting points on the board.

Fitzgerald signed a contract last year that could pay him up to $120 million and will keep him in Arizona until 2018, so it’s tough to feel too badly for him. That being said, the Cardinals have to find a solution at quarterback if they don’t want the money they spent on Fitzy to go to waste. The former Pitt Panther is not one to complain (his brother takes care of that), but there’s only so much a player of his caliber can take with no pieces around him.

H/T Rotoworld

Russell Wilson effect? Seahawks now favored Week 1 vs. Cardinals

The Arizona Cardinals opened as a 2.5-point favorite against the Seahawks for their Week 1 game, but the line has switched by five points — the most of any other Week 1 line — and Seattle is now favored in the game. The Seahawks are favored by 2.5 points most sports books, and favored by 2 points at other places. The line change can be attributed to factors related to each team.

Arizona has gone 1-3 in four preseason games, and their first-team offense has been unimpressive. Kevin Kolb and John Skelton are competing for the starting quarterback job and neither player has fared well. Their offensive line also seems porous, which is not making the job of the quarterbacks any easier.

Seattle has gone 3-0 in the preseason and looked impressive scoring 101 points. Third-round draft pick Russell Wilson (pictured) has played brilliantly and was named the starting quarterback after going 35-of-52 (67.3%) for 464 yards, five touchdowns, and one interception. He’s also run for 150 yards and a touchdown and appears to be a dynamic playmaker.

Bettors are so high on Seattle and down on Arizona that they’ve flipped the line five points. Arizona (8-8) actually finished a game better than Seattle last season, but the sports books still thought Seattle was the better team entering this season. We know that based on the opening line that favored Arizona by 2.5 points; home field advantage is worth at least three points in NFL games.

H/T Covers

Did Victor Cruz Fumble Against Cardinals?

The Giants beat the Cardinals Sunday 31-27 after capitalizing on a controversial ruling by the referees. Taking over the ball down 27-24 with 3:10 left in the game, Eli Manning threw a pass to Victor Cruz for a gain of 19. Cruz saw several Cardinals defenders in front of him and decided to go down. He wasn’t touched, meaning he could have gotten up and kept running. Cruz went down, gave up the football, and the Cardinals jumped on it. It appeared to be an absentminded fumble by Cruz, but the referees bailed him out.

The referees ruled that Cruz voluntarily gave himself up, thereby negating the fumble. Their ruling also prevented Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt from challenging the play. NFL.com has video of the play for you to take a look. That sure looked like a fumble to me because the play was not dead. But here’s what the rule book has to say about dead balls:

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Rod Graves’ Car Spotted in Arizona

Apparently the Cardinals GM’s car was driving down highway 17 in Phoenix when this shot was taken. OK, so that’s not true, but this was passed along by Cardinals reporter Kent Somers. And if what we wrote around draft time is true, it looks like the Cardinals will have a quarterback when the lockout ends, leaving this fan to update their license plate.

Arizona Cardinals Reportedly Had Deal in Place for Kevin Kolb Before Draft

If you are a Cardinals fan and wondering why the team didn’t select a quarterback in the NFL draft despite needing one, we may have our answer. Pro Football Weekly reports that the Eagles and Cardinals had a “potential deal in place to trade QB Kevin Kolb … but those plans changed when 2011 draft picks were not allowed to be dealt.” They add in their report that the trade talks could reignite down the road, and I imagine that is the case.

We knew a year ago that the Cardinals did not seem comfortable with their quarterback situation entering the season. Derek Anderson’s awful play and outburst did not help matters, and Max Hall played horribly. John Skelton could be a decent backup, but you don’t want any of those three guys being your starting quarterback if your goal is to win. Even analyst Jimmy Johnson told us personnel was the problem in Arizona, not coaching. So it makes sense for them to pursue an upgrade at the most important position on the field.

Kevin Kolb has shown accuracy and an ability to produce in his limited time as Philadelphia’s starting quarterback. Even though he’s a West Coast Offense QB (not the style the Cardinals run), he’d be a big upgrade over anything else they have on the roster.

We know Kolb would like to be traded to Arizona and that Larry Fitzgerald also wants it to happen. When league business is eventually cleared to resume, I would anticipate a deal getting done. That is unless someone else (Seattle perhaps?) can come up with a better package to offer the Eagles.

Chest bump to Evan Silva for the tip

John Skelton Makes Debut for Cardinals Replacing Max Hall, Derek Anderson

The way the Cardinals went through quarterbacks Sunday against the Rams, you would have thought they were working guys out at the combine. Arizona let “You think this is funny?!” quarterback Derek Anderson start the game. He proceeded to play like Derek Anderson and go 7/20 for 93 yards and an interception. Apparently losing six games in a row wasn’t enough for coach Ken Whisenhunt to decide Anderson wasn’t the right man for the job, but going 7/20 did the trick.

The Cardinals turned to Max Hall for their 3rd drive of the 3rd quarter. The undrafted rookie quarterback was intercepted on his second pass attempt and then got knocked out of the game on his next drive. Hall was sacked and seemed to get his hand hurt on the play and was replaced by another rookie, John Skelton.

Skelton, a 6’6″ 240lb rookie 5th round pick, showed immediate promise completing a pass to Larry Fitzgerald. The Fordham product went 3/6 for 45 yards but was unable to lead a scoring drive. Anderson was already close to losing his job as Arizona’s starter and you have to figure the Cardinals know they can’t win with him. Max Hall certainly isn’t a better option to win games, but the Cardinals may turn to Skelton to see what he can do. At this point you have to figure the Cardinals actually would have been better off keeping Matt Leinart — they are a serious mess.

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin

Jimmy Johnson: Player Personnel, Not Coaching the Problem for Arizona Cardinals

LBS recently caught up with Super Bowl and National Championship winning coach Jimmy Johnson who’s running the first annual Crown Royal Jimmy Bowl (enter here for your chance to play football at Cowboys Stadium after the Super Bowl and be coached by Jimmy Johnson!). Jimmy already told us he thinks coaching is an issue for the 49ers, but what about their Monday night counterpart? Johnson thinks the players are the problem with the Cardinals, not the coaches.

The Cardinals reached the Super Bowl under coach Ken Whisenhunt and have won the NFC West twice. Jimmy attributed Arizona’s 3-7 start to the loss of key players over the off-season, including Kurt Warner, Karlos Dansby, Antrel Rolle, and Anquan Boldin. He said the coaching is the same, but they’ve lost a lot of good players.

While losing Dansby and Rolle have hurt the defense tremendously, the biggest dropoff for the Cardinals has been at the quarterback position. Arizona has gone from starting potential Hall of Fame quarterback Kurt Warner to using Derek Anderson and Max Hall in games. Under Whisenhunt with Warner at QB, the Cardinals have had the 7th, 3rd, and 11th most productive offense in football. This year they’re the 28th, only better than three teams. I agree with Jimmy — it’s the players that has resulted in the losing in Arizona, not the coaches.