Arizona QB situation in disarray after loss


Arizona QB situation in disarray after loss

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) The quarterback situation for the Arizona Cardinals is in disarray again following the benching of John Skelton early in the team's 23-19 loss at Atlanta.

Rookie Ryan Lindley replaced Skelton and had a difficult day as Arizona managed to lose despite six turnovers by the Falcons, five of them on Matt Ryan interceptions.

Asked Monday if he would stick with Lindley, coach Ken Whisenhunt said he and his staff will ``sit down as a staff and look at what we're trying to get done and make that evaluation.''

``I've just watched the film right now,'' Whisenhunt said, ``and we're looking at a lot of things, not just the quarterback position. We're going to do what we think gives us the best chance to win going forward. That's not something where we have to make that decision right now.''

Whisenhunt said he expects Kevin Kolb, out with a rib injury, to work back into practice this week. But Kolb's return from an injury that has sidelined him for four games could still be a ways off. Kolb is 3-2 as a starter this season and engineered the game-winning drive in relief of the injured Skelton in the opener.

The Cardinals have lost six straight after starting the season 4-0.

Lindley, a sixth-round draft pick from San Diego State, said he didn't know any more than reporters did about whether he would start when the Cardinals play at home against St. Louis on Sunday.

The offense's woes were glaring against the backdrop of Arizona's outstanding defensive performance on Sunday, an effort that almost always assures success. The Falcons' Matt Ryan was the first quarterback to throw five interceptions and no touchdowns yet win the game since Bart Starr did it for Green Bay 45 years ago.

Arizona even got its running game, ranked last in the league entering the contest, in gear, with LaRod Stephens-Howling gaining a career-best 127. But the passing game was awful. Skelton had a string of bad throws, culminated by missing a wide open Larry Fitzgerald in the end zone, before he got the hook. He went to the sidelines having completed 2 of 7 for 6 yards.

Lindley, wide-eyed in his first NFL appearance, wound up 9 of 20 for 64 yards with no interceptions and no touchdowns.

``Statistically, obviously, there's nothing to write home about,'' Whisenhunt said. ``But he did a nice job I thought in a lot of areas, managing the game, handling the noise, doing some of the things that he needed to do in the pocket, made some good throws. That throw he made on fourth down to Larry (Fitzgerald) was a big-time throw. With that position, you're going to miss some, but I thought he handled himself well.''

When the team went into its bye week, preceding the Atlanta game, Whisenhunt had vowed to make changes when he thought they were warranted, and he said on Monday that the quarterback was not exempt from that process. Skelton got the hook shortly after the bad pass toward Fitzgerald, leading the team to settle for a field goal that put Arizona up 13-0.

``We're playing against a really good football team - best record in the NFC, in their place, and with where we are as an offense right now playing so many young guys, having two rookie tackles, you can't miss plays that you have to make,'' Whisenhunt said. ``You can't miss those. So going forward in that position where we were in the game, we had to see if we put in a player that wouldn't miss those.''

He said Lindley had impressed during practice, filling is as the No. 2 quarterback and the scout-team quarterback after first Skelton, then Kolb went down with injuries.

``He's really stood out making throws in those periods,'' Whisenhunt said. ``When you talk about that position and looking at the way he's handled himself mentally, the way he's worked physically, there's a lot of things you like about it.''

The coach has made it clear that his patience has worn thin. He diminished the role of five-time Pro Bowl safety Adrian Wilson, taking him out when the Cardinals went to their ``nickel'' defensive package.

``Adrian's a real pro and he handled it well,'' Whisenhunt said. ``That's where we are as a team. We felt like James (Sanders) and Rashad (Johnson) deserved a chance. They played very well against Philadelphia when Adrian didn't play, and we're trying to win games. We're trying to get better and those guys played well yesterday.''

During the game, he benched Michael Floyd after the rookie wide receiver lined up wrong and cost the team a timeout.

``With where we are offensively, you've got to create a sense of urgency with our guys to make plays and to be held accountable for that,'' Whisenhunt said, ``but if the guy's not doing it, you've got to put someone else in and give him the opportunity.''

Running back Beanie Wells, who expects to return from a turf toe injury and play against the Rams, has watched as the no-nonsense coach made his recent moves.

``It's the way it should be,'' Wells said. ``We get paid to play football and we get paid to play football the right way. When you're not doing it right, you have to come out. We're here to win games. We're not here just to go out there and play a game and have fun. If we're not going to do the things necessary to win games, then things have to be changed.''

With the loss, Arizona has had losing streaks of at least six games in each of the three seasons since the team made the playoffs two years running and Kurt Warner retired.


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Redskins 2018 position outlook: Defensive line

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Redskins 2018 position outlook: Defensive line

Redskins 2018 position outlook: Defensive line

Training camp opens next week, and we have a break here, giving us time to put the depth chart under the microscope. Over the coming week, we will look at every position, compare the group to the rest of the NFL, see if the position has been upgraded or downgraded from last year, and take out the crystal ball to see what might unfold.

Defensive line

Additions: Daron Payne (drafted in first round), Tim Settle (drafted in fifth round)
Departures: Terrell McClain (released)

Starters: Payne (NT), Jonathan Allen, Matt Ioannidis
Other roster locks: Stacy McGee, Anthony Lanier, Settle
On the bubble: Ziggy Hood, Phil Taylor

How the defensive line compares

To the rest of the NFL: We are going to have to see about this. Over the last couple of years the D-line has been transformed from an aging group into one where youth is in good supply. Ioannidis is the oldest of the starters at age 24. Allen is 23 and Payne just turned 21 in May. It looks like there is great potential there but we haven’t seen enough of it on the field to make solid comparisons to other lines around the league. Allen missed 10 games of his rookie year with an injury and Ioannidis missed two and was hampered in a few more with a broken hand. Payne, of course, is a rookie. Let’s check back in late October and see how things are going then. 

To the 2017 Redskins:  The primary reason that the line should be significantly better this year is the presence of Payne and Settle on the roster. That means that it is very unlikely that Hood will have to play nose tackle. He has been the starter there for the past two years, forced there by injuries. Jim Tomsula that Hood is not well suited to play the nose. So they have an improvement there. If they get a mostly healthy season out of Allen and if Ioannidis continue to improve this will be the best defensive line they have had since moving to the 3-4 defensive in 2010. 

2018 outlook

Biggest upside: As noted, Payne just turned 21. He seems to have a rare understanding of the game for a rookie. You often see rookies just trying to survive on physical ability early one. Payne has plenty of that, but he also seems to realize that strength and ability alone won’t let him thrive at this level. He pays close attention to his technique during drills, making sure he does things the right way the first time. If he builds on this for the next year or so the Redskins could have a legitimate star. 

Most to prove: Since so many Redskins fans are accustomed to seeing veteran defensive linemen the team signs as free agents play poorly, they automatically put McGee in the “bust” category. But many of his teammates said he was the most consistent player on the line last year. It’s safe to say that he played better than the popular perception. Next year, he will carry a $4.8 million salary cap number and like most players who are not starters but making good salaries, he will need to play well enough to justify that cap number.  

Rookie watch: The Redskins did not expect Settle to be available in the fifth round and he was too good to pass up when he was still on the board. He should get some opportunity as a rookie. He is likely to be the only other nose tackle on the roster besides Payne (sorry, but the numbers make it unlikely that Phil Taylor will make the roster). That could have him active on many game days and that usually means getting some snaps in the rotation. We will see what he can do with his chances. 

Bottom line: The Redskins were last in the league in rushing defense in 2017. It wasn’t all on the line—in particular, injuries to the inside linebackers hurt a lot—but the simple fact is that the organization long neglected the line. The philosophy was to create a patchwork unit from aging free agents. That has changed now with three homegrown players set to start and Settle and 2016 undrafted free agent find Anthony Lanier providing reserve help. It’s going to be a better unit, no question. But improvement over the last several years is a low bar and we’ll find out if this develops into a quality line over the next few months. 


Greg Manusky on Payne:

Payne is doing a great job. He’s trying to get acclimated to some of the calls, hasn’t had a lot of mental errors. He’s done a great job. Physical player.

2018 position outlook series

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCSand on Instagram @RichTandler


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John Wall says Wizards will do less talking this year, but could be best team he's played on

John Wall says Wizards will do less talking this year, but could be best team he's played on

The Wizards in recent years have made a habit of trying to speak things into existence and then not having them actually exist. They have talked the talk and then sometimes haven't walked the walk.

A few instances come to mind, including Bradley Beal saying of the LeBron James-led Cleveland Cavaliers that "they didn't want to see us" in the playoffs. Beal also said in November that the Washington was the best team in the East, just hours before James scored 57 points in the Wizards' building.

John Wall has made similar proclomations in the past, usually about himself, including how he is the best point guard in the Eastern Conference. Now, these statements were all relatively normal for professional athletes who pride themselves in always feeling like they are the best player on the floor or the field. It's part of the mindset that makes them who they are.

But when those statements are made and then not backed up, they can be tough to defend, and especially for a Wizards team which last season seemed to overlook the lesser teams and suffered a down year because of it.

Wall insists all that is about to change. In his 1-on-1 interview with Chris Miller on our Wizards Tipoff podcast, Wall said the message this year will be much different, much more muted than it has been in the past.

"We want to go out with a different mindset and a different focus. We're not trying to go in and think we're a team that has already established something and got respect from people. We have to earn that respect and that means going out and competing every night against the good teams or the bad teams," he said.

That doesn't mean Wall isn't confident. His belief in himself hasn't wavered and, in fact, he may believe in his team more now than ever. That's because he is happy with the offseason the front office has produced.

They signed Dwight Howard and Jeff Green in free agency, traded for Austin Rivers and drafted Troy Brown, Jr. in the first round. All should help the Wizards improve between Howard representing an upgrade at starting center and the others providing much-needed depth.

When Wall was asked by Chris if this is the most complete team he has played with in Washington, Wall left no doubts.

"Yeah, for sure. I definitely think so," he said. "I think it gives us the opportunity where we don't have to play as many minutes. That's the key. At the end of the year, you kind of fall short because you're fatigued. Nobody uses that as an excuse. You play and try to get into the best shape possible. But if you're playing 24 minutes, the whole half, and then 24 minutes and the whole half, you kind of get tired at some point. I think those guys can take a little of the burden and pressure off of us at times."

Listen to Wall's full 1-on-1 interview on the Wizards Tipoff podcast:

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