PODCAST: Did win say more about Cardinals or Steelers?

Jess Root and Seth Cox break down and react to the Cardinals’ win over the Steelers in Week 13.

The Arizona Cardinals beat the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday on the road 24-10. With the win, Revenge of the Birds’ Seth Cox and I had plenty to talk about.

We look back at the win and discuss whether the win said more about the Cardinals or more about the Steelers. We discuss the play of running back James Conner, tight end Trey McBride and quarterback Kyler Murray. Then, we discuss the topic again as to whether the win was a good thing for them.

Enjoy the show!

Enjoy the show with the embedded player above or by subscribing to the show on Apple PodcastsSpotify or your favorite podcast platform, so you never miss a show. Make sure as well to give it a five-star rating!

Times and topics:

(1:00) Did the win say more about the Cardinals or the Steelers?

(22:38) The play of James Conner and Trey McBride

(41:08) Kyler Murray’s play

(50:25) Was the win good for the Cardinals?

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Cardinals lead NFL in rookie starters

The Cardinals have had 10 rookies start games this season and very possibly will have 11 before the end of the year.

The Arizona Cardinals have had to rely on their rookie class more than they have been willing to in many years. Part of it has been by plan and part has been out of necessity.

They have had 10 different rookies start games this season, the highest total in the league.

The breakdown by position has gone like this:

  • QB: 1
  • RB: 1
  • WR: 1
  • TE: 1
  • OL: 1
  • DL: 1
  • CB: 4

Fifth-round pick Clayton Tune started a game at quarterback.

Undrafted rookie running back Emari Demercado has started twice.

Third-round pick Michael Wilson has started eight of the nine games in which he has played.

Undrafted rookie Elijah Higgins started a game at tight end.

First-round pick Paris Johnson has started all 13 games at right tackle and has played every single offensive snap this season.

Sixth-round pick Dante Stills has started six of 12 games he has appeared in.

Third-round pick Garrett Williams has now started four times in seven games at cornerback since coming off the NFI list.

Sixth-round pick Kei’Trel Clark began the season as a starting cornerback, was benched and then worked his back into the starting lineup. He has played in 10 games and has seven starts.

Undrafted rookie cornerback Starling Thomas started three games before getting hurt and missing the game against the Steelers.

The 10th rookie to start was undrafted cornerback Divaad Wilson. He started on Sunday after being elevated from the practice squad.

The Cardinals have two rookie linebackers, second-round pick BJ Ojulari and fifth-round pick Owen Pappoe. They have not yet started a game.

It would be no surprise to see Ojulari get a start in the final four games after the bye week. Pappoe just recently found a role on defense in the last two weeks, playing in their all-linebacker nickel/dime defense. Unless there is another injury at inside linebacker, he probably will not start.

Listen to the latest from Cards Wire’s Jess Root on his podcast, Rise Up, See Red. Subscribe on Apple podcasts or Spotify.

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Trey McBride is having one of Cardinals’ best seasons ever for a tight end

Every catch he makes will set a new single-season franchise record for tight ends and he should finish with the second-highest total in yards.

The Arizona Cardinals have been searching for a very good tight end for a long time. Over the last decade or so, they thought they had them in players like Rob Housler, Troy Niklas, Ricky Seals-Jones, Dan Arnold and more.

They have gone the older veteran route with Todd Heap, Jeff Carlson, Charles Clay and Zach Ertz.

But it appears that they finally have found their guy in Trey McBride.

By the end of this season, he will have had one of the best tight end seasons in franchise history.

McBride has 56 receptions for 610 yards. He already has tied the single-season franchise record for receptions by a tight end. Every catch he has over the final four games of the season will set a new record.

With 610 receiving yards, only one tight end in franchise history has had more in a season. Hall of Famer Jackie Smith has the six highest single-season totals for receiving yards by a tight end. His highest total was 1,205 yards in 1967.

McBride, though, if he stays healthy, will likely end up with the second-highest yardage total.

Smith’s second-best season was 810 receiving yards. With 201 yards over the final four games, McBride will surpass that.

Only in his second season, the Cardinals appear to have a player they will want to keep on the team for years to come.

Listen to the latest from Cards Wire’s Jess Root on his podcast, Rise Up, See Red. Subscribe on Apple podcasts or Spotify.

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Cardinals’ turnovers down since Kyler Murray’s return to lineup

The Cardinals have only two turnovers in their last four games after having 10 in the previous five.

Turnover margin is one of the most important metrics in the NFL for winning games. Teams who take the ball away from opponents and do not turn it over win games.

The Cardinals have gone 2-2 since the return of quarterback Kyler Murray, and a lot of that can and should be attributed to ball protection.

The Cardinals are not turning the ball over nearly as much.

In the five games prior to Murray’s return in Week 10, the Cardinals has 10 turnovers — seven interceptions and three fumbles. They lost all five of those games.

Since Murray’s return, the Cardinals have only two turnovers (two interceptions) and they have a turnover margin of plus-3. They have not turned the ball over in two straight games.

Murray has a current streak of 91 consecutive pass attempts without an interception.

The Cardinals are on their bye this week and then have four final games. Keeping up this pace of protecting the football will keep them competitive in some very tough final games of the season.

Listen to the latest from Cards Wire’s Jess Root on his podcast, Rise Up, See Red. Subscribe on Apple podcasts or Spotify.

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Cardinals have 3rd, 18th picks in 2024 draft entering Week 14

We take an updated look at the NFL draft order for 2024 based on Week 14 standings.

The Arizona Cardinals lost ground in the 2024 NFL draft. They beat the Pittsburgh Steelers for their third win of the season and the Houston Texans won their seventh.

As a result, looking at the updated NFL draft order entering Week 14, the Cardinals hold the third overall pick and also the 18th.

Last week, they had the second and the 17th.

The Cardinals have the Texans’ first-round selection because of a draft-day trade this year.

In the top three, the Cardinals will likely be able to select the player they want, assuming they won’t want a quarterback.

Here is what the top 10 in the draft looks like entering Week 14:

  1. Chicago Bears (from 1-11 Panthers)
  2. New England Patriots (2-10)
  3. Arizona Cardinals (3-10)
  4. Washington Commanders (4-9)
  5. Chicago Bears (4-8, .455 strength of schedule)
  6. New York Giants (4-8, .476 strength of schedule)
  7. Tennessee Titans (4-8, .5707 strength of schedule
  8. New York Jets (4-8, .528 strength of schedule)
  9. New Orleans Saints (5-7, .451 strength of schedule)
  10. Las Vegas Raiders (5-7, .486 strength of schedule)

Listen to the latest from Cards Wire’s Jess Root on his podcast, Rise Up, See Red. Subscribe on Apple podcasts or Spotify.

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NFL Week 14 power rankings and the NFC West

Three of the four teams in the division moved up in the latest Touchdown Wire power rankings in Week 14.

Three of the four teams in the NFC West won in Week 13. The only team to lose were the Seattle Seahawks.

What did Week 13’s games do to the four teams in the division in new power rankings?

Let’s take a look where each team falls in the Week 14 NFL power rankings from Touchdown Wire’s Jarrett Bailey.

Listen to the latest from Cards Wire’s Jess Root on his podcast, Rise Up, See Red. Subscribe on Apple podcasts or Spotify.


Cardinals sign DL Naquan Jones to active roster

Jones was signed to the practice squad last month after he was released by the Titans.

The Arizona Cardinals announced a roster move on Tuesday, adding a defensive lineman to the 53-man roster. The team announced that defensive lineman Naquan Jones was signed from the practice squad to the active roster and that, to make room for him, receiver Dan Chisema was released.

Jones, who previously played for the Tennessee Titans, was signed to the practice squad nearly a month ago.

Listed at 6-foot-3 and 313 pounds, Jones spent the last three seasons with the Titans after going undrafted in 2021 out of Michigan State.

This season, he played eight games for Tennessee and had eight assisted tackles.

In three seasons, he has 53 tackles and 3.5 sacks in 32 games (seven starts).

The Cardinals only had four defensive linemen on the roster and had been elevating defensive linemen from the practice squad to play on game days.

Listen to the latest from Cards Wire’s Jess Root on his podcast, Rise Up, See Red. Subscribe on Apple podcasts or Spotify.

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LOOK: Photos of Jonathan Ledbetter’s community work

Ledbetter was named the Cardinals’ nominee for the 2023 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award.

The Arizona Cardinals named defensive lineman Jonathan Ledbetter their nominee for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award for 2023, the league’s highest off-field honor for work done in the community.

He led a number of projects in the community this past year. The Cardinals shared some images of those projects and events.

Check them out below.

Listen to the latest from Cards Wire’s Jess Root on his podcast, Rise Up, See Red. Subscribe on Apple podcasts or Spotify.

DL Jonathan Ledbetter is Cardinals’ Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year nominee

Ledbetter is one of 32 team nominees for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award.

As the NFL hits the final month of the regular season, all 32 teams have announced their team’s selection for the Walter NFL Payton Man of the Year Award, the highest off-field honors a player can earn.

The Cardinals named defensive lineman Jonathan Ledbetter as their 2023 honoree.

As a nominee, Ledbetter will receive up to a $55,000 donation to the charity of his choice and wear a Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year helmet decal through the end of the season in recognition of his accomplishments on and off the field.

“So many of our players go above and beyond when it comes to contributing to the community and it is challenging to single out just one for this honor. But whether it’s here in Arizona or in his home state of Georgia, Jonathan has consistently demonstrated a commitment to serving others that exemplifies everything that this award stands for,” said Cardinals owner Michael Bidwill in a statement. “We are enormously proud to have him represent the Cardinals and to present him as our 2023 Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee.”

What earned Ledbetter this recognition by the Cardinals?

Ledbetter’s charitable efforts focus on helping shape and empower the next generation. Ledbetter was inspired to make an impact in the lives of children by his mother, Teresa Belcher, a single parent who spent more than two decades in the Air Force. Ledbetter created his foundation, Led A Better Way, upon entering the NFL in 2019. However, the foundation and Ledbetter’s impact in the community has grown drastically over his last two seasons with the Cardinals. Through his foundation, Ledbetter has hosted youth football camps, holiday gift drives, hospital visits and mental health awareness events among other charitable activities in both Arizona and his native Georgia.

Many of the causes Ledbetter supports have been a part of his own journey. In July, he held his second annual Led A Better Way Foundation Youth Football Camp at his alma mater, Tucker (GA) High School. With over 200 participants, the children participated in a variety of non-contact drills, received individual instruction and gear from Ledbetter. Ledbetter didn’t have the financial ability to go to specialized camps as a young player, so it is important to him to provide access to as many young athletes as possible.

In March, Ledbetter spoke at Tucker High School about mental health on World Teen Mental Wellness Day. He shared his own battle with depression with students and emphasized that everyone goes through tough times and that it is ok to not be ok. In February, he served as a keynote speaker at the Black Men’s Brain Health Conference in Phoenix where he discussed the pain and pleasure that comes with being a professional athlete.

Ledbetter recently joined forces with teammates Kelvin Beachum and Dennis Gardeck to provide over 230 Arizona families in need with Thanksgiving dinner. In October, Ledbetter gifted a new outdoor learning space to Thew Elementary in Tempe for the school to hold science classes and conduct experiments. In addition to his own foundation, he is a frequent participant in community events hosted by the team. This season Ledbetter has proudly represented the Cardinals at military appreciation events, hospital visits, youth clinics, back-to-school drives and meal distributions among many other events throughout the Valley.

The 2023 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year will be announced during NFL Honors ceremony the Thursday before Super Bowl LVIII. The winner will receive a $250,000 donation to the charity of his choice.

Listen to the latest from Cards Wire’s Jess Root on his podcast, Rise Up, See Red. Subscribe on Apple podcasts or Spotify.

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Cardinals get the week off for bye

Jonathan Gannon is giving the players a full week off instead of just the weekend.

The Arizona Cardinals have their bye this week, the final week a team can have a bye. The players will not only have the weekend off. They will have the whole week off.

Head coach Jonathan Gannon had the players come in on Monday following their 24-10 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers but that will be it.

“I think the players need a mental break,” Gannon told reporters on Monday. “I do believe in that, so I don’t really want them studying a lot right now. I don’t want them looking at different things. Just relax for a couple days, then get back into it.”

He said he and the coaches will not use the week off to prepare for their Week 15 game against the San Francisco 49ers.

On a bye week, teams can hold practices Wednesday through Friday but then the players would have the weekend off.

Gannon will have the players come back Monday to get an extra practice to get ready for the 49ers.

“We’ll work on Monday. We call it a bonus Monday,” he said. “We’ll get them going in practice, lift, meet, take Tuesday off and then have a normal week.”

Gannon is both rewarding the players’ hard work this season and trusting them to take care of business.

“We always talk about expectations and standards with our guys and going on a bye week is nothing different,” he explained. “I trust our guys to do the right thing, get themselves healed up and mentally stay engaged a little bit as it gets later on into the week, but I actually want them to put it down for a little bit here.”

Listen to the latest from Cards Wire’s Jess Root on his podcast, Rise Up, See Red. Subscribe on Apple podcasts or Spotify.

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