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BILLY BOWL Palmer Sucks

January 29, 2009 by Guest

�Sucks Says

Random Ramblings by PalmerSucks

January 28, 2009


Note: PalmerSucks will be in da house for Super Bowl XLIII -- Tampa bound!  Post-hangover commentary to come sometime soon thereafter.


Have you heard? This year's Super Bowl will feature the Arizona Cardinals and their corps of super receivers, led by 8-foot tall Larry Fitzgerald, who can high jump 5 feet from a standstill and snag long bombs using his feet; Anquan Boldin, who runs a 3.2 forty in pumps; and Steve Breaston, who once won a race with a Lamborghini -- barefoot. Tossing them the ball will be Kurt Warner, who can hit a mosquito from thirty yards and can read defenses blindfolded, using Braille.


Also showing up for the game: the Pittsburgh Stillers and their number-one ranked defense.


Yes, as the Stillers prepare to face the Stillers West, it�s being billed as a showdown between the unstoppable offense vs. the immoveable defense (more on this inaccurate portrayal later). Or else it�s Mike Tomlin, successor to Billy Cowher, vs. Ken Jismcunt and Russ Grimm, a couple of guys who coached under him.


11 Cardinal players or coaches with some kind of ties to the Stillers. One head coach who claims Cowher as a mentor.  Just call it Billy Bowl.


The Stillers are actually 7-point favorites, but you�d never know judging from all the Warner/Fitzgerald hype.  Other than a reference or two to Roethlisberger (who of course is usually mentioned for his contrasting style to Warner) the Stillers� offense doesn�t get much mention at all. Maybe this is a good thing going into the game.


I kind of understand the hype: Warner was in the top 5 in just about every statistical category this season. He torched a normally stingy Philly defense, completing 21 of 28 passes (75 percent) for 279 yards, 9.96 yards per attempt, four touchdowns, no interceptions and a 145.7 passer rating. (The YPA jumps at me in particular -- that's a classic playoff-winning number.)


Fitzgerald for his part has an obscene 23 catches for 419 yards and seven touchdowns during the playoffs, including seven grabs of at least 20 yards.  He�s dangerous both on deep and short routes, as well as the trick plays the Birds loves to run.


You can read about player matchups until your eyes bleed, including elsewhere on this site (and quite better than what I�d do anyway) so I won�t go into detail on that. Besides, to me the game is always about overall concepts rather than one-on-ones.


Just like the Stillers needed to make Flacco look like a rookie QB in the AFC Championship, so must the Stillers do one thing to win Sunday: namely, return the Cardinals to looking like the team that got its asses kicked four times this season. The Cardinals have done what�s becoming a trend now in pro football � win enough games to get into the playoffs, then get hot at just the right time. Make no mistake about it, Arizona�s THE hot team in the playoffs, and it�s up to the Stillers to make like Jack Lambert and �cool their asses off.�


I present to you these four games:

Week 4 Sep 28  ARI 35 @ NYJ 56

Week 13 13 Nov 27  ARI 20 @ PHI 48

Week 15 Dec 14  MIN 35 @ ARI 14

Week 16 Dec 21 ARI 7 @ NE 47


I throw out the New England debacle, as this had a lot to do with a snowstorm that caused chaos with the Cards� travel plans, forcing them to arrive to the stadium only an hour before kickoff. I focus more on one game, the Jets blowout in Week 4 which I actually happen to watch. This 56-35 Week 4 pasting starred Warner in the role of �QB getting smacked around around all game� with the Cards down 31-0 at the half.


As experienced as Warner is, he can still be fooled: the Jets� used wrinkles like a one-man rush and multiple coverages to confuse him. Warner threw several picks, including a horrific lollipop out in the flat that was returned for a jog-in TD.


The Jets laid the wood to the Cards' receivers, and forced a fumble from Boldin. The player who forced it? None other than Hank Poteat. That�s right, Hank Poteat. Meaning there�s no reason Ike or McFadden can�t do the same.


The Jets also pulled off a sweet play-fake on 4th and one, passing deep out of a tight-I formation � which resembled the way Parker lines up often.


The second game of note: Minnesota and Tavaris Jackson put up 4 TDs on the Arizona defense. That�s right, Tavaris Jackson. Need I say more?


Anyway, it�s up to the Stillers to make Arizona look like the team they were earlier this season, not the surging squad they�ve become. That said, I give you these other ramblings:


-- Arizona's post-game Championship celebration featured fireworks and a confetti shower --  just like you�d see in the Super Bowl. The Stillers' trophy presentation, on the other hand, was a little less hysterical. Keep this in mind going into the game.


--No matter what they say, the Cardinals are at least a little surprised to be in the Super Bowl. The Stillers, not so much. Often the team that feels more like it belongs in the Bowl, plays like it.


--Run to set up the pass: In a regular season game vs. Arizona, the Giants were limited to 87 rushing yards, but the Giants� run rep caused the Cards to move  up safety Adrian Wilson near the line of scrimmage. Not surprisingly, Eli Manning had one of this best games (three touchdowns, no interceptions). Getting Arizona to do the same would go a long way to returning them to their regular-season ass-beaten form.


--It�s no secret the Cards want to stun their opponents early: they practically ended Carolina�s season by halftime of the divisional-round game. Likewise, the shocked Eagles limped into the locker-room wondering what hit them in the first half of their game. The Stillers can�t allow this pattern to continue, and must at least hang within a score in the first half.


--In the second half of the game, though, Philadelphia brought more pressure on Warner and JAMMED THE CARDS' RECEIVERS. The high-flying Cards� offense responded with one of the least productive third-quarter outputs in playoff history: 8 total yards. Got your forearm tape ready, Ike and Fad?


In the season opener, San Francisco dealt with Fitzgerald by bumping him in press coverage by a linebacker, with a cornerback (not a safety) over the top. The idea was to pummel him with a bigger guy short, cover him with a faster guy long. Result: the 49ers held Fitzgerald to 3 catches for 31 yards. Fitzgerald may be unstoppable, but that shouldn�t stop anyone from trying.


--One record-setting Arizona achievement they don�t seem to be talking about: the Cards head to the Super Bowl with what's easily the worst defense (426 points allowed) of any conference champion in league history.



Watch for trickeration like this from Ken Jismcunt, master of disguise:


1. Arizona has the ball at the Stillers� 16 yard line.  The Cards break the huddle and go into their base 3-wide single-TE set, but with a twist: Tim Hightower, their red-zone specialist RB lines up wide, with WR Larry Fitzgerald, their downfield receiving threat, set behind the line at tailback.


2. At the snap, the three wideouts and the TE all run go routes, pulling back the defense. Fitzgerald runs a circle, the hallmark route of a running back.


3. With the underneath cleared out, Warner flicks a short pass to Fitzgerald, who heads upfield using his massive RAC skills. All four receivers stop, plant and screen defenders.


4. The last Stiller to have a shot at Fitzgerald, Ike Taylor, hits Fitzgerald but can�t stop him from stumbling over the goal line. Touchdown Arizona.



--One thing thing I noticed in all the flea-flicker replays going on is this: from a completely clean step-through, Warner put the ball up about 55 yards. His arm�s not that big anymore. The Stillers would be wise to practice defending underthrows this week � not only might that get them a pick, but save them a big catch by Fitzgerald.


--Please, no more personal fouls, Kemo. He's been good for them all year, including a killer one that made Berger�s poor second half punt even more damaging -- he would've been in Darren Stone's place had the Stillers dropped that one against Baltimore.


--Why am I so focused on the Stiller offense?  Simply, the Stillers must prepare for the possibility AZ will score 4 TDs on them. The battle of the game isn�t the Stillers D vs. the Cards O, but the Stiller O vs. the Cards D.


--I'm going to stay with my guy Holmes as the man who pops the big play -- so far he's two for two. He's lost in all the talk of the Arizona WRs.


--As much as being made of Whisenhunt's familiarity with the Stillers, keep in mind that the Stillers weren't using the bunch formations last year as they are now.


--Think of this QB matchup as the NCAA championship game. Warner is Bradford, who looks great in the pocket but needs playmakers. Ben is Tebow, running around all sandlot-y and un-pretty, but who makes plays himself. Remind me which team won the game.


--Quick: name me the all-time post-season ratings leader on third downs. If you answered Ben Roethlisberger, with a blistering 121.8 rating, give yourself a cigar. Remember this as Ben gets lost in all the Warner worship.


--Get pressure on Warner up the middle, not from the edges. Warner's awesome stepping into the pocket and throwing -- he's dead operating out on the flanks. Likewise, unlike Ben Roeth, who thrives on chaos, Warner needs a nice clean orderly pocket, and often will sulk and pout if things don't go perfectly.


--Ah forget the QBs -- it's Willie Parker who'll be more important to the outcome anyway.


The Stillers are the better team. The Cardinals are the hotter team. As we saw in last year�s Super Bowl, the hotter team CAN win.


Still, things seemed to have broken perfectly for the Stillers. The Ravens allow them to avoid a return trip to Tennessee, and the Stillers get to face the rookie QB to boot. The Cardinals knock off the Eagles and their hornets on defense who swarmed all over Ben in Philly earlier this year. (Although I wouldn�t have minded the luxury of facing Donovan McGagg in the Bowl.) True, the Cardinals� offense is a little scary, but contrary to popular opinion, the Stillers can compete if it comes down to a shootout.


Over and over you'll hear this game comes down to the Cardinals offense vs. the Stillers defense. It does not: I assume Arizona will score points. It will be up to the Stillers offense to match that. Relatively speaking, the Stillers offense and the Cardinals defense are about as evenly matched as the other two units. The Cardinals defense has yielded yards and points in this playoff run. It's up to Roethlisberger and Parker to continue the trend � to make the �new� Cards look like the old Cards. That will be the key to Super Bowl XLIII.


I still can�t get that confetti shower out of my mind.


Anyway, until next time, this is PalmerSucks and this is what I say. Enjoy the game!


(The views of PalmerSucks are not necessarily those of -- but should be.)



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