Cardinals assistant knows Johnson, Eagles defense all too well

Coach Ken Whisenhunt talks with Larry Fitzgerald as Cardinals get set for practice yesterday.
Coach Ken Whisenhunt talks with Larry Fitzgerald as Cardinals get set for practice yesterday.
Posted: January 16, 2009

TEMPE, Ariz. - And on the fifth day, some smack talk.

From a coach, nonetheless.

"Coach Johnson has always been a pain," Cardinals offensive coordinator Todd Haley said yesterday, speaking of Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Johnson.

He meant it as a compliment, of course.

But, hey, take your smack anyway you can get it.

"Coming from Dallas and even going back to me being in Chicago when they beat us in the playoffs, even though I was just a receivers coach, they've always been a difficult defense to get ready for," Haley said.

"They're well-coached. They're smart. They're always ready to play on Sunday, a very aggressive, physical team. So you've got to do your homework. You know that you've got to execute and you can't be turning the ball over, doing some of the things that his defense creates a lot of, which is turnovers. It's a true challenge."

The Cardinals should be ready for that challenge. Besides Johnson, Haley has gone up against Johnson proteges in the New York Giants' Steve Spagnuolo and Minnesota's Leslie Frazier.

The Giants won, 37-29, Nov. 23. Minnesota pounded the Cardinals, 35-14, on Dec. 14. Both games were played in Glendale.

"They do a lot of things to disrupt you at the line of scrimmage to try and take the timing away from you," Haley said. "You definitely see a lot of similarities from any of those teams."

Andy won't be doing this

Second-year Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt has made a habit of running a lap inside University of Phoenix Stadium after victories this year. The Cardinals are 7-2 at home.

"I am very appreciative of our fans, and I have been very vocal about that, and how much their support means to us," he said. "To be able to interact with them on any level is important. I could never underestimate how much that means to our football team. It energizes our team and I am excited with the level of excitement. It is exploding."

They said it

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Whisenhunt gave his take on the playing status of Eagles running back Brian Westbrook, who has been fighting through a knee injury. "If he wants to take this week off," the coach said, "we wouldn't be opposed."

 

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Cardinals standout receiver Larry Fitzgerald, on his incredible catches this season: "Now is not the time to reflect . . . When you're retired and my son is older and he's playing in high school and saying, 'Dad, I'm making better catches than you,' that's when I'm going to show him the tape. That's the time to reflect, not in your fifth year, playing for the NFC Championship."

Remember last year, when there was talk that the Cardinals would deal him rather than sign him long-term?

Would have made a great Eagle.

 

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Finally, there is this from Cardinals defensive end Bertrand Berry about the unlikelihood of an Eagles-Cardinals NFC title game:

"It just shows that's why you play the game. Every time people talk about this matchup should go a certain way, that matchup should go a certain way, if it did, it would just be a sitcom. There would be no reason to play it." *

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