Michael Floyd is getting ready to explode. I love it when young guys get it.
I had a great moment in the dining room yesterday -- and it had nothing to do with the awesome food they serve at Cards Camp -- and everything to do with something Michael Floyd told me.
But let me start by offering you some background. On our Cards Daily hit for azcardinals.com we were going to talk about the impact of Antonio Cromartie and whether or not Michael Floyd was going to have a breakout year in 2014?
For the record, I believe last year was Michael Floyd's breakout year (65, 1,041 5). And it wasn't just his numbers. Floyd earned the respect of opponents. Defensive coordinators noticed he was growing and gaining confidence. The response was predictable. By the end of the year Floyd was garnering a lot of attention.
Now back to my brief conversation with Floyd. As I was making a beeline to the chow line, I saw Michael Floyd walking toward me. I thought it would be prudent to ask Michael himself if he thought he had a breakout year in 2013. So, I stopped him and said, "Michael, would you say last year was your breakout year?"
Without hesitation, he looked at me and said, "No."
I smiled and walked away. That's all I needed to hear. What a great answer. This guy has worked harder this offseason than at any point in his football career...and that's why I smiled. His answer of "no" was the truth. I know it was truth because of how hard Michael has worked this offseason. You don't work like he's worked unless you're hungry. Michael Floyd is hungry.
Two things just jump out at me. One, I can't believe how good he can be. I bet his sweat has talent. Two, I don't see how any of that talent will ever translate into production.
From everything I've heard, this is a really solid young man. As it appears society continues to crumble around us, I really root for good kids and this is one. However, you can pick your cliche to describe his lack of accuracy. With his arm strength, I think he could throw the ball into the ocean from Phoenix. If I'm grading accuracy, I'd only bet on him to throw it in the ocean if his feet were wet.
I want to be wrong. I just don't believe you can teach accuracy. You can re-fine it. Coaches can enhance it. Coaches cannot create it. Bruce Arians said after the draft that it's simple things that Thomas needs to work on. He knows more than I do but I'll believe it when I see it.
Carson Palmer threw three interceptions. There's no way I can tell you who's at fault standing on the sidelines of practice but on the second INT Palmer immediately went to Michael Floyd and started discussing the route. On the other two, Palmer reacted like he had a job to help make a tackle.
Obviously, if there's a time to throw picks and use them as teaching moments, it's day four of camp. Yet, we went through an off-season as fans being told how much further along the offense is than it was last year. We've all bought into the optimism of the offensive growth that ended 2013 would quickly translate into 2014 success. Right now, the offense has some hiccups.
He was a hitting machine Monday. Tuesday he had a highlight-reel interception.
Dropping back into coverage, running with his back to the quarterback from the left hashmarks to the numbers, Bucannon stops and pivots. Now facing Palmer, he starts heading back to the hashmarks. As Bucannon turns his chest, Palmer tries to throw it behind the rookie DB. As Bucannon's body heads to his left, his eyes and right hand ignore momentum. Borrowing the neck of an owl, his head follows the ball's flight. His right hand jumps from his hip. As he stabs the air, the point of the ball bores into his hand. Without hesitation or a juggle, the play of camp to this point is smothered against his chest.
Watching John Brown have a stellar practice at University of Phoenix Stadium is starting to become redundant. He stands out by making plays but there has been something else, an itch I have not been able to scratch: who does this guy remind me of?
From a body type and skill set perspective, John Brown is Marvin Harrison. Watching him run, move and cut, watching him catch the ball effortlessly, makes me think of the longtime Colt that tormented the league with Peyton Manning.
Brown is small at 5-10, 179 pounds, just like Harrison (6', 180). He jogs back to the huddle like Marvin Harrison; he dead legs like Marvin Harrison; he accelerates out of the break like Marvin Harrison; he's quiet and soft spoken like Marvin Harrison; after all this time it finally hit me like bricks: he's like Marvin Harrison.
This was bothering me so much that I went up to Bruce Arians after practice and asked him if he thought Brown reminded him of Marvin Harrison.
Without hesitation he said, "absolutely." And then he said, "There are some people that compare him to T.Y. Hilton...and I looked at Tom Moore and said who does he remind you of, Tom? And he said, ‘Marvin.'"
I felt better…now we need him to play like Marvin Harrison.
The guy hits anything that moves. He never plays the game slow. Completely a downhill safety. There has to be a concern about flags for some of the hits that he'll bring to the party, but right now it's fun.
2) KEVIN MINTER
Got completely blown up in one of the blitz drills but that was the exception. Not nearly as explosive as Daryl Washington, but much more of a hammer. There are other things he does do better than Washington, so the world isn't ending.
3) DARREN FELLS
The guy has no chance to make the team. A 28 year-old tight end with one year of NFL experience and a ton to learn. If he was six years younger, I would dump an established player for the promise I see in Fells. At his age, though, I think it's more of a case where you say "what might have been."
4) BOBBY MASSIE
I don't know if the light bulb has completely gone on but the maturity and desire appear to be a bonfire.
Personnel groups in the game of football represent the shadow world of the NFL. The chess match that football is tends to focus defenders on formation recognition and down and distance. Offenses try to confuse defenses with personnel groups while running the same plays.
Personnel does matter. Should an offense get into Pair Personnel, 2-Backs, 2-TEs and 1-WR, it tells the defense to expect run, especially if in run down situations (1st & 10, 2nd & 1-6). This is why it can be one of the most effective personnel groups to use play-action and throw the ball downfield.
Personnel is not pitch dark nor is it pure light; personnel is a penumbra in the game of football, the shade between darkness and light.
And the Cards may use two personnel groups more this year with the idea of misleading defenses: Regular (2-Backs, 1-TE and 2-WRs) and 10 Personnel (1-Back, 0-TEs and 4-WRs).
Bruce Arians runs a TE-centric offense and does not have a fullback. But Robert Hughes may change that. Hughes is stout, can be a good lead blocker and can catch the ball. He will most likely be the fourth and final running back on the team. This means we will actually see BA use two-back sets.
With all due respect to Mike Tyson, 10 Personnel is NICE! Imagine getting Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd, Ted Ginn, Jr. and rookie sensation John Brown on the field at the same time. The combination of speed and power is tantalizing. Also, it should be noted, it doesn't mean the Cards are just going to throw the ball from that grouping. Penumbras are fascinating because they're not easily identified and running the ball from 10 Personnel will be much more prevalent than most people (and defenses) think.
Andre Ellington will get the ball in space out of this grouping but he may not be the only back we see. Jonathan Dwyer could be an excellent option to be the "third-down back." He's big enough to pick up blitzers and he's capable of doing it again and again without getting nicked up. He catches the ball well and runs it well enough between the tackles to be the kind of back that could make 10 effective -- even in run down situations.
Where BA takes this offense will be one of the better stories of the preseason. I think a night and day difference is coming in 2014. You just have to know where to look.