Cardinals not ready for drastic changes yet


Cardinals not ready for drastic changes yet

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) The Arizona Cardinals have one of the NFL's worst offenses, injuries and ineptitude preventing them from running the ball effectively, protect the quarterback or score more than a handful of points.

So what can the Cardinals do to fix their problems at the midpoint of the season?

They could try to bring in new players, but that might be tough; most of the ones available have been cut by other teams.

They could revamp the offense, try something new. That might just make things worse, adding another learn-on-the-job element to players who have already been thrust into unfamiliar roles because of the injuries.

Changes on the coaching staff? Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.

For now, the plan is to stand pat, stick with the players and coaches they've got and try to get better together.

``Let's not get into panic here and start changing things up,'' Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt said. ``We're going to continue to do what we do and we're going to do it better.''

Arizona managed to play just well enough on offense during a four-game winning streak to open the season, getting a few big plays while protecting the ball as its stingy defense shut opposing teams down.

The offense has done nothing but get in the way during the Cardinals' current four-game losing streak, averaging 11.5 points per game while turning it over seven times.

Arizona is 31st in total offense with 289 yards per game and 29th in scoring at 15.9 points.

Many of the Cardinals' problems have started up front.

Arizona lost starting tackle Levi Brown to a torn triceps muscle before the first game and more injuries have led to plenty of shuffling on the line, moving players to new positions while trying to find someone on the practice squad or waiver wire who might be able to help.

The Cardinals have allowed 39 sacks - nine more than anyone else in the NFL - and their quarterbacks have been battered, with John Skelton and Kevin Kolb both missing games with injuries.

``As any professional, you don't want to use injuries as an excuse,'' Cardinals guard Daryn Colledge said. ``We've got guys backing these guys up that are paid professionals and they expect to come in and play at a high level. It doesn't help our continuity having that many guys out, but we expect that guys behind them to step up and play well.''

Arizona's inability to get much of a ground game going hasn't helped the offense.

The Cardinals have been wracked by injuries at running back, losing Ryan Williams for the season to a shoulder injury after six games and Beanie Wells until after Thanksgiving with turf toe. LaRod Stephens-Howling also missed two games with a hip injury.

With a shuffled offensive line and down to its backup running backs, Arizona's running game has been stuck in the sand, ranking 31st in the NFL with 79 yards per game. The Cardinals were so ineffective running the ball against San Francisco on Monday night they all but gave up, rushing for seven yards - second-worst in franchise history - on nine carries in the 24-3 loss.

Without having to worry about defending the run, opposing defenses have been able to drop their safeties deep and keep the Cardinals to short gains underneath. The lack of a running game also has allowed opposing defensive linemen to charge up the field after Arizona's quarterbacks without hesitation, putting them on the run or on their backs seemingly every play.

``We have to be able to run the ball,'' Skelton said. ``It hurts the offense as a whole if you're not able to run the ball. It's frustrating for everyone involved.''

With an inconsistent offensive line and little help from the running game, Skelton and Kolb have struggled while running for their lives.

Skelton opened the season as the starter and went down with a sprained right ankle in the opener against Seattle. Kolb took over for five games and went out just as Skelton got healthy, injuring his ribs and chest on a punishing hit by the Buffalo Bills on Oct. 14.

Skelton has started the past two games and has thrown for just one touchdown with four interceptions. Kolb had a little more success, throwing for 1,169 yards with eight touchdowns and three interceptions, but still isn't close to even practicing.

After Arizona's loss to San Francisco, fans started calling for Ryan Lindley, a rookie from San Diego State who started the season third on the depth chart and has never taken an NFL snap.

``I'm sure there are a lot of fans saying a lot of things,'' Whisenhunt said. ``We're all frustrated with where we are because we feel like we're better than what our record indicates right now. We're going to continue to stay the course.''

The Cardinals don't have much time to get things figured out. They have a short week to prepare for Green Bay at Lambeau Field on Sunday and have the undefeated Atlanta Falcons after that.


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Caps prospect watch: Signing season?


Caps prospect watch: Signing season?

The 2018 NCAA Hockey Tournament bracket has been announced and only one Capitals prospect, Brian Pinho, is still in the running.

Providence College was selected as the No. 2 seed in the East Regional and will play No. 3 Clarkson in the first round on Friday, March 23 on ESPNU. The winner will play the winner of Notre Dame-Michigan Tech on Saturday with a chance to advance to the Frozen Four.

The college season is over for the rest of the Capitals' college prospects which begs the question, will any of them sign an entry-level deal with Washington?

In the spring when seasons end for colleges, junior leagues and European leagues, we see a flurry of signings across the NHL as teams sign their prospects and young free agents.

Among the Caps' college prospects, the most likely candidate to sign would be Shane Gersich. Gersich just wrapped up this third season at the University of North Dakota, finishing second on the team in goals (13) and tied for third in points (29). The Capitals will certainly make a push to sign him considering his talent and because if he returns to college for a fourth year, he stands to become a free agent on Aug. 15, 2019.

Brad Elliott Schlossman of the Grand Forks Herald reported Wednesday that North Dakota was still awaiting Gersich's decision on whether he planned to return to college.

Quinnipiac defenseman Chase Priskie is in a similar situation, but it he has decided to head back to school for another season.

“That wasn’t a season I’d want to leave on,” Priskie told the New Haven Register. “When I came here as a freshman I saw our senior class, Garteig, St. Denis, Soren Jonzzon, and they left such a legacy that guys still talk about them. Same for Sam Anas and Devon Toews. They were all such great players and some of the best people for our program. When I leave, I want to be talked about like they are.”


Other prospect notes:

  • For Pinho, now a senior at Providence, this marks an opportunity for him to finish his college career the same way he began, with a national championship. “I don’t think I realized at the time how hard it is just to get back to the tournament,” Pinho told the New Haven Register. “So that’s something we older guys have been telling the younger guys. You never know when you’re going to be back and you have to make the most of it when you’re there.” (You can read the full feature on Pinho here)
  • The end of the season may suddenly be near for goalie prospect Ilya Samsonov. Metallurg Magnitogorsk finds itself down 3-1 in its series with Ak Bars in the KHL playoffs meaning their season could be over as early as Friday. Of course, the big news to watch after that is whether or not Samsonov would come to North America. If he does, he would most likely go to Hershey to play for the Bears. With only 10 games remaining on Hershey's schedule, however, the sooner Samsonov's team is ousted from the playoffs, the better. At least from a Washington perspective.
  • All three of Washington's WHL prospects have reached the WHL playoffs. Moose Jaw (Dmitriy Zaitsev) finished with the best record in the league and will play Prince Albert in the first round. Swift Current (Beck Malenstyn) finished second in the East Division behind Moose Jaw and will play Regina. Everett (Garrett Pilon) won the U.S. Division and earned the top seed in the Western Conference. They will play Seattle in the first round.
  • Dmitriy Zaitsev remains out after taking an illegal hit last week. He did not play in either of Moose Jaw's final regular season games, but was a full participant in practice on Wednesday.
  • Adam Carlson has found his groove in Kansas City. Playing for the Mavericks of the ECHL, he won each of his two starts this past week allowing only one goal on 43 shots. He was named the 2nd star of the game for both games.
  • Madison Bowey recorded an assist on Friday and two more for Hershey on Saturday for three over the weekend in his first week back with the Bears. Bowey has spent the majority of the season with the Caps, but the additions of Michal Kempny and Jakub Jerabek at the trade deadline meant there were just too many bodies up in Washington and not enough playing time to go around. As Bowey is waiver exempt, he became the odd-man out and was sent to the AHL. It would not be surprising to see him recalled by Washington when the NHL playoffs begin.
  • Defenseman Jonas Siegenthaler brought his goal total up to five for the season with two goals against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins on Monday. The Bears really wanted to emphasize his offensive game this season to see if Siegenthaler could be developed into a two-way player. His strength is definitely is on the defensive end of the ice, but he will be a more versatile player if he can also be a threat offensively as well. You can see the highlights of Siegenthaler's two-goal game here:

  • Forward Hampus Gustafsson was recalled to Hershey last week and did not wait long to make an impact. He scored his first career AHL goal on Friday. He also added an assist making that game his first career multi-point game as well.
  • Tyler Lewington was suspended two games by the AHL for a punch he delivered to Bridgeport's Scott Eansor in Friday's game.

Who are the Caps' top 10 prospects? Find out here in this week's updated rankings 

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Free agency update: What happens next for the Redskins on the defensive line?


Free agency update: What happens next for the Redskins on the defensive line?

The Redskins sure hosted a lot of free agent defensive line visits in the second week of free agency, but so far, no signed contracts. 

Johnathan Hankins came to Ashburn. Sylvester Williams came to Ashburn. Pernell McPhee came to Ashburn. All three left without a done deal, and now for Redskins fans, the question becomes not about when a deal will get done, but if any deals will happen.

Actually, one deal did happen. According to a report, Williams has signed with the Lions. 

Since visiting the Redskins on Monday, Hankins also took a trip to see the Lions. McPhee, who was offered a contract by the Redskins, has since taken a trip to visit the Falcons. 


Keep in mind too, Washington expressed interest in nose tackle Bennie Logan last offseason, and the 6-foot-2, 309 lb., former Chief is again on the market. A visit from Logan would surprise nobody, though it hasn't been reported yet. 

Mother Nature might also be an impediment for the Redskins. A March snowstorm shut the D.C. region down on Wednesday, which could have limited potential free agent visits.

What's clear is between Hankins, McPhee and Williams this week, in addition to Muhammad Wilkerson and Benson Mayowa last week, the Redskins are obviously looking to upgrade their defensive line. Combine that with a contract restructure for incumbent Terrell McClain, and Washington has the flexibility to improve on last season's NFL-worst run defense. 

That doesn't mean, however, the Redskins will absolutely sign one of the above mentioned players. And it doesn't mean outside linebacker Junior Gallete won't return to the Redskins either. 

Many fans wonder if a McPhee signing means the Redskins would move on from Galette. It might, but that's no sure thing. 

Washington went into the 2017 season with five outside linebackers: Ryan Kerrigan, Preston Smith, Galette, Ryan Anderson and Chris Carter. Right now, the 'Skins only have Kerrigan, Smith and Anderson under contract. The team needs to add at least one OLB, but likely two.

McPhee also carries about 20 extra pounds on his frame than Galette, giving the former Bear and Raven more flexibility to play against the run. Galette is a speed, leverage and moves player, focused on getting to the quarterback. He's capable against the run, but in the same way a sports car shouldn't carry a snow plow, Galette should be used to pressure QBs. 

Point being: McPhee and Galette could both make sense for the Redskins, if the team can work out the cash. 

Money usually matters the most in free agency, and it's clear the Redskins haven't made the type of offers that any of these players felt compelled to immediately sign. Deals could still happen though. Hankins didn't sign last offseason until April and Galette seems to thank Redskins fans via social media with relative frequency. 

Washington also had some success with the patient approach to free agency. The team was able to keep Zach Brown, though it took some nervous days of allowing the tackling machine linebacker to test the free agent market. With that win in hand, don't expect the Redskins brass to change their philosophy. 

Until further notice, it's hurry up and wait season in Ashburn.

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