The Arizona Cardinals finished a troubling late-season collapse by losing their NFL Wild Card playoff game Monday night to the Los Angeles Rams, 34-11.
As could be expected, the disappointing result is prompting plenty of questions and criticism among Arizona fans and media. Dan Bickley and Vince Marotta, hosts of Arizona Sports 98.7 FM’s morning show, led the charge Tuesday morning. In their view, it’s time for Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury to go.
Marotta called the playoff loss “a disgusting end to a promising season.” The Cardinals began the 2021 season with seven consecutive victories. By Week 13, they had a 10-2 record. But following its bye week, Arizona imploded, losing four of their final six games. Most troubling among them was a 30-12 loss to the Detroit Lions, who finished with the second-worst record (3-13-1) in the NFL.
Bickley was even more pointed with his criticism in a piece written for the Arizona Sports 98.7 FM website. The longtime columnist and host points out the pattern of late-season collapses in Kingsbury’s tenure with Arizona. In 2019, the Cardinals finished 2-7. The 2020 season ended with a 3-6 slide. Add this season’s 2-4 collapse and the pattern is apparent.
As Bickley said on the air Tuesday morning, keeping Kingsbury is harder to justify with the coaches likely to be available. He singled out Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive coordinator Todd Bowles as a good fit for the Cardinals, obviously favoring a coach with a different philosophy than Kingsbury.
Yet the Cardinals have shown improvement during Kingsbury’s three seasons, progressing from a 5-10-1 mark to 11-6 this season. That may be good enough for team owner Michael Bidwell and general manager Steve Keim. According to Bickley, it shouldn’t be. Management should be aggressive, rather than content.
You can listen to Bickley & Marotta each morning, Monday through Friday, on the Arizona Sports 98.7 FM website and app. The show is also available via podcast.
Ian Casselberry is a sports media columnist for BSM. He has previously written and edited for Awful Announcing, The Comeback, Sports Illustrated, Yahoo Sports, MLive, Bleacher Report, and SB Nation. You can find him on Twitter @iancass or reach him by email at email@example.com.
Mike and The Mad Dog Reunion Set For First Take on February 1
“I can tell you this, no other people, the three of us for two hours. Think about that.”
It’s not a rumor or a wishful thought anymore. According to Chris Russo, we are getting the long-awaited Mike and the Mad Dog reunion. Russo and Stephen A. Smith will be joined by Mike Francesa for the entire two hours of First Take on February 1.
Russo made the announcement on his SiriusXM show Thursday afternoon. It is possible that it was a mistake though.
“Did anybody catch the reunion we’re going to have on February 1?” he said. “Did everybody see that? Stevie did say it on Howard, didn’t he?”
Stephen A. Smith told Howard Stern earlier this week that he intends to reunite Mike and the Mad Dog, but he did not set an official date. Russo acknowledged that he may not have been authorized to say it yet, but now that the cat was out of the bag, he gave more details.
“It sounds like the big guy will return and we’ll have the three of us in there,” he told the audience. “I can tell you this, no other people, the three of us for two hours. Think about that. You talk about me being a fraud, Mike hated ESPN for 100 years!”
If Russo is correct, that means no rotating analysts and no Molly Qerim. If the goal is to give the audience more Mike and the Mad Dog, then ESPN is making sure nothing gets in the way.
An interesting question now is what is Stephen A. Smith’s role in the reunion. He likely played a pivotal role in closing the deal to get Francesa on ESPN for a day, but what will he do on camera on February 1?
Shan & RJ Defend GBag Nation After Christian McCaffrey Comments
“Somewhere we lost the ability to know what irreverence sounds like.”
It’s no secret that San Francisco 49ers running back Christian McCaffrey has been injury prone during his NFL career. 105.3 The Fan’s GBag Nation said it would benefit the Cowboys for McCaffrey to come down with an injury ahead of the team’s NFC Divisional Round playoff matchup this week, and that message wasn’t well received by 49er fans.
A Twitter user –calling the comments “pathetic” — captured a 15-second clip of the show discussing McCaffrey, in which hosts Gavin Dawson and Bryan Broaddus said “We could use an injury, we really could” followed by saying “a hamstring would be good”. The clip has since garnered nearly 50,000 views.
On Thursday, Shan Shariff of Shan & RJ defended his colleagues by calling out 49er fans.
“Want another example of how soft and whiney these Bay Area fans are? Check out the complete meltdowns and crying over @gbagnation joking about Christian McCaffrey. Charles Barkley was right about everything he’s every said about your city and fans”, before tagging 95.7 The Game –sister station of 105.3 The Fan — and that station’s morning host Bonta Hill.
RJ Choppy, Shariff’s partner on the 105.3 The Fan morning show, continued the defense of the station’s afternoon show. He believed the comments from the show were sarcastic in nature.
“I would say I’m surprised that people are unable to pick up on the clear sarcasm” of the two hosts, before saying “but I’m not. Somewhere we lost the ability to know what irreverence sounds like”.
Colin Dunlap: Coaches Will Never Eliminate Sideline Interviews From TV Contracts
“They absolutely could resist with the TV rights deals and say ‘we’re just not doing it,’ but they know part of their bread is buttered by having that access.”
Melissa Stark’s sideline interview with Ravens coach John Harbaugh during the team’s Super Wild Card Round loss to the Cincinnati Bengals last week has received plenty of attention. Harbaugh was less than pleased with being asked what it would take to change quarterbacks.
Erin Andrews addressed interactions with players and athletes like that on Calm Down, the podcast she co-hosts with Charissa Thompson. While Andrews never mentioned Stark by name in her profanity-laced rant, she did say that coaches and players know when someone is trying to make a name for themselves.
“You don’t have to be an asshole,” the FOX Sports sideline reporter said. “How about this? Stop trying to make a name for yourself or be clickbait with these questions that tie these guys down or put them in a bind where you want to be the person in the press conference. Don’t do that. They’re not animals. They’re not pieces of meat.”
On Thursday’s edition of The Fan Morning Show on 93.7 The Fan in Pittsburgh, Chris Mack objected to the idea that the interview was Stark trying to get attention.
“Melissa Stark has been doing this for years and I think is pretty good at it and I think those questions were all fair,” he said.
Co-host Dorin Dickerson saw it a little differently. In addition to his role on The Fan Morning Show, Dickerson is also a sideline reporter for the Pitt Panthers’ football radio network. He did not think Stark respected the reality of sideline interviews.
“What Melissa Stark did there, she was prying too much,” he said. “You know that you’re gonna get the run-of-the-mill answers when you ask a coach. The last thing a coach wants to do is talk to you after a bad first half.”
Colin Dunlap added that sideline interviews have value but are not necessary. He said that he enjoyed having access to coaches in the middle of a game, however, coaches could make a point of eliminating sideline interviews from future NFL TV contracts if they are a real problem. He doesn’t expect that would ever happen though.
“They could resist. They absolutely could resist with the TV rights deals and say ‘we’re just not doing it,’ but they know part of their bread is buttered by having that access. That’s built into the television contract.”