Random Ramblings by PalmerSucks
January 28, 2009
Note: PalmerSucks will be in da house for Super Bowl XLIII --
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,
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
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:
Anyway, it�s up to the Stillers to make
--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.
--It�s no secret the Cards want to stun their opponents early: they practically ended
--In the second half of the game, though,
In the season opener,
Watch for trickeration like this from Ken Jismcunt, master of disguise:
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
--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
Over and over you'll hear this game comes down to the Cardinals offense vs. the Stillers defense. It does not: I assume
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 Stillers.com -- but should be.)