With Arizona Cardinals Coaching Staff Coming Together, Focus Moves to Draft Preparation, QB Scouting.
When Bruce Arians was announced as head coach of the Arizona Cardinals, he said he hoped to have his coaching staff assembled before the team left for Mobile, Alabama and the Senior Bowl. Against the odds, Arians appears to have made good on his first promise, reportedly putting together his entire staff within days of his appointment, save for the final paperwork—no mean feat considering that tight ends coach Freddie Kitchens is apparently the only holdover from Ken Whisenhunt's staff.
Thus far, only three assistants have officially been named, Todd Bowles as defensive coordinator, Harold Goodwin as offensive coordinator and Tom Moore as assistant head coach/offense.
Bowles, a former team captain at Temple, under then head coach Arians, comes as no surprise to anyone. He was reportedly always part of a package deal with Arians, who had apparently promised him the job when Arians was the leading candidate for the Chicago Bears job.
Bowles was a finalist for the Cardinals defensive coordinator position in 2011 narrowly losing out to Ray Horton at the time, and will likely be a near straight swap for the outgoing Horton.
The Atlanta Falcons to Reward QB Matt Ryan with Mega-Contract Extension after First Post-Season Win in Five Years
Numbers don't lie. The Atlanta Falcons started the regular season with an impressive 9-0 record. Despite this great start, the Falcons were never considered an elite team in the NFL. Up to that point, they had not beaten a team with at least a .500 record. Since drafting Matt Ryan as the starting QB in 2008, until this year he had been 0-3 in the post-season.
The Falcons did silence their critics this year by finally winning its first post-season game in the Matt Ryan era last week against the Seahawks. Even after entering the post-season as the No. 1 seed in the NFC Division and posting a14-4 record, no one expected the Falcons to make it to the Super Bowl.
Last week the Falcons almost became the first team in NFL playoffs history to lose after having a 20-point lead entering the fourth quarter against Seattle. The Falcons jumped out to a strong start—they led Seattle 20-0 at the half and had to rely on kicker Matt Bryant's last second field goal to secure a 30-28 victory in the NFL Divisional round last weekend.
A #1 seed in the NFC hasn't lost a conference championship game since the 2002 Philadelphia Eagles. Are the Falcons going to join them or will we see them defy the odds?
NFC Conference Championship Matchups: 49ers Kaepernick And Crabtree Passing Attack vs. Asante Samuel Falcons Secondary
The San Francisco 49ers 23rd ranked passing attack enters their second straight NFC Championship behind outstanding sophomore quarterback Colin Kaepernick. San Francisco is traveling to the Georgia Dome to take on the Atlanta Falcons and their 23rd ranked passing defense.
Kaepernick has a rocket for an arm, and aside from the early interception to Sam Shields, played a good game against an aggressive Packers pass defense last week. A big part of that was Michael Crabtree. The Kaepernick-Crabtree combination has been one of the NFL’s most effective combinations since Kaepernick took over as the 49ers signal caller.
NFC Conference Championship Matchups: Kaepernick And Gore-Lead 49ers Rushing Attack vs. Decoud, Witherspoon And Falcons Run Defense
Colin Kaepernick exploded into the spotlight with an NFL record for quarterback rushing yards, running for 181 against a Green Bay Packers team that was ill prepared for the San Francisco 49ers read option attack. Overshadowed by Kaepernick’s amazing game, was Frank Gore. Gore rushed 23 times for 119 yards and a touchdown against the Packers, balancing out the 49ers option attack and partially allowing for Kaepernick’s performance.
The Packers made a number of mistakes defending the 49er attack, the largest of which was no one accounting for Kaepernick on many plays, or a spy under qualified to chase down an athlete of Kaepernick’s quality. Green Bay was caught in man coverage on option runs, with no one accounting for the quarterback, and Kaepernick ran wild. The Falcons play a combination of man and zone, with zone heavy on the back end. Kaepernick will have less open opportunities to run with the Falcons playing zone, looking at the line of scrimmage. The Packers safety play was atrocious as well; Kaepernick used his reads and fakes to misplace the safeties, turning big runs into long touchdowns.