NFC West: Elmer Angsman

Silver linings: Cardinals at Falcons

September, 20, 2010
9/20/10
10:07
AM ET
The facts: The Cardinals fell to 1-1 with a 41-7 road defeat to the Atlanta Falcons in Week 2.

The upside: Even the worst defeats tend to feature a bright spot or two.
  • Tim Hightower's 80-yard touchdown run showed -- again -- that he has deceptive speed. The run was the Cardinals' longest since 1958. Hightower had a 70-yarder against New Orleans in the playoffs last season. His run against the Falcons was the third-longest in team history. John David Crow had an 83-yarder in 1958. Elmer Angsman had an 82-yarder in 1949. Paddy Driscoll had an 80-yarder in 1925.
  • Larry Fitzgerald caught seven passes for 83 yards after Derek Anderson had trouble getting the ball to him in Week 1. Fitzgerald has 10 receptions for 126 yards and one touchdown through two games. He had 10 receptions for 105 yards and two scores through two games last season.
  • Rookie quarterback Max Hall did not play well enough in garbage time to encourage a quarterback controversy. It's still a little early to head down that road. Anderson still appears to be the best option and that's good for the team this early in the season.
  • The Cardinals did not lose a fumble, an improvement from Week 1, when they lost four.
  • Rookie Daryl Washington made 10 tackles.
  • Veteran linebacker Clark Haggans appeared active, particularly early in the game. He finished with four tackles, one sack and a pass defensed.
Looking ahead: The Cardinals face the Oakland Raiders in the home opener for Arizona.

Best Cardinals Team Ever: 1947

June, 24, 2010
6/24/10
9:00
AM ET
Notable players: Charley Trippi, Elmer Angsman, Paul Christman, Pat Harder, Stan Mauldin, Chet Bulger, Billy Dewell, Mal Kutner, Boris "Babe" Dimancheff, Jeff Burkett, Marshall Goldberg

[+] EnlargeCharley Trippi and Jimmy Conzelman
AP PhotoCharley Trippi, right, signed a four-year contract to play for Jimmy Conzelman before the season began.
Analysis: The Pro Football Hall of Fame describes Jimmy Conzelman as a "newspaper publisher, playwright, author, orator, actor" -- and the only head coach to win an NFL championship with the Cardinals. (The team was based in Chicago from 1920-59. It played in St. Louis from 1960-87.)

Conzelman's brilliance as a coach shined through before and during the Cardinals' 28-21 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles in the 1947 NFL championship game. Conzelman initially refrained from reporting the Eagles for illegally filing down their cleats to better cope with the icy conditions at Comiskey Park. Conzelman instead reported the Eagles on a player-by-player basis, and only after Philadelphia had made significant gains. Officials wiped out the gains and penalized the Eagles, forcing players to leave the field to replace their equipment.

The Cardinals had addressed the footing issue by changing into sneakers before the game. Angsman scored twice on 70-yard runs. Trippi scored on a 44-yard run and 75-yard punt return.

Conzelman's resourcefulness reflected his varied background. His playing career included stints with Decatur, Rock Island, Milwaukee, Detroit and Providence. He had even owned the Lions for a couple of seasons in the 1920s, supposedly paying $100 for the franchise before returning it to the league. He retired as a player in 1930 and returned as a coach a decade later. But his record in three seasons with the Cardinals was only 8-22 when he stepped away following the 1942 season. The Cardinals brought back Conzelman four years later and he rewarded them by winning 27 of 37 games, counting playoffs and the only league title in franchise history.

The 1947 season produced tragedy in addition to triumph. A plane crash killed punter Jeff Burkett as he tried to rejoin the team following an appendicitis. Charles Bidwill, the team's owner since 1933, had died in April before the season.

Most impressive win: The 1947 team needed a victory over the Chicago Bears in the final regular-season game to win the Western Division title. The Cardinals picked off Bears quarterback Sid Luckman four times in the 30-21 victory, but the offense might have provided the most important contribution. Christman's touchdown pass to Dimancheff on the first play of the game set a winning tone for the Cardinals. Dimancheff had missed every practice during the week while tending to his expectant wife, preventing him from practicing a play Conzelman was eager to run. No matter. The Cardinals isolated Dimancheff against Bears linebacker Mike Holovak, a speed mismatch Dimancheff used to his advantage.

Free-spending Cardinals: The team landed Trippi before the season with a four-year contract worth a then-staggering $100,000. Trippi had been a Maxwell Award winner and Rose Bowl MVP at the University of Georgia, which retired his No. 62 jersey after a college career that later landed Trippi a spot on ESPN's list of 25 greatest college players. The move helped put the Cardinals over the top in 1947. Trippi ranked second on the team that season with 641 yards from scrimmage.

Honorable mention

2008: The Cardinals came within a defensive stop of winning the Super Bowl against Pittsburgh after Kurt Warner found Larry Fitzgerald for the go-ahead touchdown pass late in the game. This team delighted in disproving skeptics and redefining an organization known for decades of futility.

1948: A defeat in the championship game prevented this Cardinals team from challenging and probably overtaking the 1947 team as the best in team history. The 1948 team went 11-1 during the regular season as Trippi became a bigger threat.

1975: Coach Don Coryell produced an 11-3 record thanks to an offense featuring Pro Bowl players in quarterback Jim Hart, receiver Mel Gray, running back Terry Metcalf, fullback Jim Otis and offensive linemen Dan Dierdorf and Conrad Dobler.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

NFC WEST SCOREBOARD