Does Kurt Warner get enough respect?

John Lavallo of writes that Cardinals’ veteran signal caller Kurt Warner gets no respect and delves into the discussion of whether or not he’s Hall of Fame-worthy (which many media members as Lavallo points out, do not believe so).

Kurt Warner“Not a singular player in his era”.This is laughable. Let’s assume Warner’s “era” is the late 90’s and early 00’s (that’s sort of an era, I guess). In that time, what did our man do? Threw for nearly 14,000 yards (and another 15,000 yards since), completed nearly 70% of his passes, lead his team to three 500+ point seasons, made 4 Pro-Bowls, won 2 MVP’s, lead his team to 2 Super Bowls, won a championship, along with throwing 400+ yards and collecting an MVP trophy for Super Bowl XXXIV. Warner had the best 3-year stretch of any QB in NFL history. And since 1999 is smack dab in his era, let’s take specific notice of that year. Warner had the best single season of any QB in NFL history, not only because of eye-popping stats (41 TD’s, 4,300+ yards) but also because, unlike Dan Marino in 1984 and Tom Brady in 2007 (both of whom had technically superior seasons, stat-wise), Warner actually ended up winning his last game. In fact, he is only NFL quarterback to throw 40 touchdowns and win a Super Bowl in the same season. Remarkable stats AND a Super Bowl ring? Show me one other QB in one other year, or ANY era, that had a better season than Kurt Warner in 1999. I defy you. And I think Kurt’s era has a part 2 called the ‘late 00’s’, in which he has been the best QB in the NFL over the past 2 seasons (project out his stats from 2007, in which he only started 10 games yet threw for nearly 3,000 yards and add that to a 4,500+ yard 2008 season. Oh, and he led his team to the Super Bowl.

Lavallo touched on all of the arguments against Warner being a Hall of Famer, so make sure to check out the entire article.

I’ll chime in on this debate the same way I do all Hall of Fame discussions for active players: let’s wait until Warner’s done playing before we say whether he’s worthy of HOF consideration or not. That might be a cop-out, but he may win three more Super Bowls by the time his career is over with and then there wouldn’t much of a discussion, would there?

Either way, Warner is going to be a special case because he came back into the NFL with the Rams in ’99, set the league on fire and then damn near fell off the map. Now he’s back setting the league on fire and that’s why you have so many detractors and supporters. Yeah, he’s numbers are outstanding in the years he played well, but injuries made him look like Ryan Leaf for all the years in between. So again, let’s see how his career finishes out when we have the full picture.

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Peter Schrager makes me laugh

Peter Schrager of recently put together a list of 10 “un-truths” in the NFL and his No. 8 is a real doozy:

8. The BCS is an “unfair” system. Want to talk “unfair”? How about the Patriots — who finished with 11 wins — sitting home in January while the 8-8 Chargers, 9-6-1 Eagles, and 9-7 Arizona Cardinals all play in the postseason. My guy Kevin Hench can talk (er, whine, kick, and scream) about this far more passionately, but in the same year everyone cried about the BCS, the NFL’s postseason system left an 11-5 team out in the cold. The Texas Longhorns weren’t the only ones who got a raw deal this year.

The Texas Longhorns weren’t the only ones who got a raw deal this year.

No sh*t – so were the Utah Utes.

Yeah, the Patriots were jobbed big-time this year and the Browns were screwed last year. But those are just two teams – one team per season – over the past two seasons. The BCS continuously bends multiple teams over on a yearly basis and people still defend it.

Schrager’s comparison is freaking laughable and when you consider the Chargers made it to the divisional round, the Eagles made it to the NFC Championship and the Cardinals made it to the Super Bowl, it weakens his point even more.

Five Intriguing Super Bowl Storylines

If anything, the 2008 NFL Season was far from dull. While the Cardinals and Steelers each won their respective divisions to secure playoff berths, neither team was a slum dunk to make it to Tampa at the start of the postseason.

Let’s recap, shall we?

The Steelers entered the playoffs with huge question marks to be answered, most surrounding their offense. In their last regular season game of the year, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was taken off the field strapped to a stretcher after the back of his helmet slammed against the turf following a hit between two defenders. Along with his health, Pittsburgh’s offensive line, although starting to gel in the final month of the season, seemed to be a weakness that defenses like the Titans and Ravens could exploit if they had the opportunity to face the Steelers in the postseason.

So while they ranked first in total defense entering the playoffs, the Steelers had major issues. Yet they steam rolled an overmatched Chargers team in the divisional round, then turned Joe Flacco’s inexperience against him in the AFC Championship Game and now they’re one win away from winning their second Super Bowl title in three years.

Conversely, the Cardinals had a little steeper hill to climb. Although their offense was explosive throughout the season, they played poorly down the stretch and many believed that if they had to go on the road in the playoffs, they would never survive. Not only that, but many pundits also didn’t believe ‘Zona would get past a good running team like the Falcons, who were sure to ride Michael Turner to victory in the opening round.

Thanks to three Atlanta turnovers and a soundly executed game plan to shut down Turner, the Cards beat the Falcons to set up a regular season rematch with the Panthers in the second round. Six Jake Delhomme turnovers later and Arizona was heading to the NFC Championship Game despite everyone and their mother suggesting that they would never be able to win on the road. Then despite the Eagles’ best efforts at a second half comeback, Arizona was able to hang on Sunday to secure a trip to the Super Bowl, which seemed like an improbable task at the start of the playoffs.

Now that the matchup has been set, what do we have to look forward to? Plenty, actually. Below are five storylines that should wet your appetite for the next two weeks before kickoff on February 1.

Read the rest after the jump...

Six Pack of Observations: Cardinals heading to the Super Bowl

Here are six quick-hit observations from the Cardinals’ 32-25 win over the Eagles in the NFC Championship Game on Sunday.

1. Just keep doubting them – the Cardinals will just keep winning.
Let’s run through everything the Cardinals weren’t supposed to do this postseason, shall we? They weren’t supposed to stop Michael Turner or beat the Falcons in the first round. They weren’t supposed to win on the road or stop the Panthers’ dynamic running game in the second round. And then even when they did accomplish those things, they weren’t supposed to beat the Eagles because Philadelphia would finally pressure Kurt Warner like he hadn’t been the previous two weeks. Yet the Cardinals did beat Philly on Sunday, and they did so even though adversity stopped by in the third quarter and smacked them square in the mouth. (More on that next.)

2. The Cardinals did something Sunday that they hadn’t done much of all season – battle adversity.
When the Eagles scored a go ahead touchdown with just over 10 minutes remaining in the game to take a 25-24 lead in front of a stunned Arizona crowd, the Cardinals could have easily crumpled in the final quarter. Philadelphia had just scored 19 points in a matter of nine minutes, were starting to pressure Warner with more ease and had seized all momentum. But the Cards answered with a 14-play, 72-yard drive that took 12:07 off the clock and culminated in a Tim Hightower 8-yard touchdown run. They added the 2-point conversation on a pass reception by Ben Patrick and even though there was still plenty of time left on the clock at 2:53, you got the impression that the Eagles were cooked. Granted, ‘Zona benefited from a non-pass interference call on a 4th and 10 attempt to Kevin Curtis on the final drive, but the Cards had already capitalized on the most pivotal moment in the game by taking the Eagles’ best shot and answering back.

3. The Eagles only played 19 minutes of this game…
…had they played the entire game, they probably would have won. Something that got overlooked by many pundits in the week leading up to the contest was that this was the third straight road game for Philadelphia. It’s hard to win on the road as it is, nevertheless three straight weeks. It’s why most sixth seeds don’t make it to the Super Bowl. That said, had the Eagles played the entire game as well as they did in the third quarter and the beginning of the fourth, they would have won. Granted, that’s an obvious statement since they scored 13 points and limited the Cardinals to –1 yard of total offense in that third period – but look deeper. In that third quarter, Jim Johnson finally was able to dial up the right pressure on Kurt Warner, Andy Reid was finally able to get the tired Arizona defense on their heels and Donovan McNabb finally was hitting receivers in stride and striking for big plays. (None bigger than DeSean Jackson’s wild 62-yard touchdown reception early in the fourth.) The Eagles essentially only executed their game plan for 19 minutes of this game and yes, the Cardinals had a lot to do with that. But Philadelphia also got in its own way more times than not by dropping passes, failing to execute Johnson’s blitzes and McNabb misfiring on a handful of passes. Were the Eagles tired? They didn’t necessarily show it if they were, but don’t overlook the fact that this team had to do a lot just to make the playoffs and then a lot just to get to Glendale on Sunday. And that could have factored into how they played.

4. Larry Fitzgerald.
What else can one say that hasn’t already been said? He’s amazing, spectacular – exceptional. With all due respect to the Texans’ Andre Johnson, Fitz is the best receiver in the NFL and the adjustment he made on Kurt Warner’s under throw on a 62-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter was incredible. He’s one of the few receivers in the league that consistently goes up to get the ball at its highest point and never lets it get to his body. He’s the best.

5. Who the hell is Brent Celek?
Non-Eagle fans go ahead and raise your hand if you knew who Celek was before the game. I knew who he was, but I had no idea he could be a game-changer. The second-year tight end out of Cincinnati was the perfect complement to DeSean Jackson and Kevin Curtis in that he worked the seams and gave Donovan McNabb a solid, reliable target the entire game. He also freed Jackson and Curtis up by clearing out the Cardinal safeties, which had to adjust to him being a legitimate target as the game wore on. What a game by the youngster who has no doubt made Eagle fans forget L.J. Smith.

6. How can you not love Adrian Wilson?
Because the Cardinals have been bad for so long, Wilson has often been known as just an underrated playmaker on a brutal defense. But now that the Cards are heading to the Super Bowl, general football fans can start to appreciate just how good the eight-year veteran is – and how loyal. When Wilson was set to become a free agent at the end of the 2004 season, he could have signed with numerous teams dying for a playmaking safety and a natural born leader. But as Joe Buck and Troy Akiman noted during the broadcast, Wilson never contemplated signing with another team and reached a modest five-year, $21 million contract with the Cards. Now he’s being rewarded for his contributions to Arizona’s franchise by having the opportunity to play in the Super Bowl. If you can’t root for a guy like that than you won’t be able to root for anybody.

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