BY Art Thiel 07:55PM 12/15/2014

Arizona’s No. 3 QB draws No. 1 Seahawks ‘D’

6th round draft choice Ryan Lindley was on San Diego’s practice squad as recently as last month. Now he starts Sunday against the Seahawks No. 1-rated defense. Yeesh.

The Seahawks defense Nov. 23 held Arizona to 204 yards of offense and leading rusher Andre Ellington (now out with injury) to 24 yards in 10 carries. / Drew Sellers, Sportspress Northwest

For the biggest game of the season, and probably the past five years they’ve been absent from the playoffs, the Arizona Cardinals will start at quarterback third-stringer Ryan Lindley, who in his NFL career before Thursday completed 93 passes in 181 attempts. He also has seven interceptions, three fumbles and no touchdowns. That was in 2012.

All he’s doing Sunday is going up against the No. 1-rated defense in the NFL, and maybe the past 10 years, which helped beat the Cardinals 19-3 in Seattle Nov. 22 with the more experienced Drew Stanton at QB. And Stanton was the replacement for Carson Palmer, who’s out for the season after tearing an ACL.

Naturally, his coach, Bruce Arians, sounded thrilled.

“I think Ryan gives us a great opportunity,” he told reporters Monday in Phoenix. What else would he say? “Fercripessake, we got a third-string stiff against these guys? Why don’t we all just get in a bus and drive off a cliff and save the Seahawks the trouble.”

Well, he could go to a fourth-stringer. Logan Thomas, a 6-foot-6, 250-pound behemoth from Virginia Tech taken by the Cardinals in the draft’s fourth round in April, has yet to play a down in the NFL.

Actually, Arians might. He said Thomas might get a few snaps in tightly scripted moments.

“I think (Ryan) is a little bit more ready right now having been back in the system for a while,” Arians said. “I think Logan’s going to be a great player. Sometimes you can put guys in positions to fail. I want him to succeed when he plays.”

Success may be a relative thing Sunday. Coming out in one piece would be a success. Avoiding disaster would be an epic feat. And they did that, sorta, Thursday.

After Stanton (12-for-20 for 109 yards) had to be carted off in the third quarter with a sprained knee in a game against the Rams in St. Louis, Lindley came in (4-for 10 for 30 yards) and stayed out of trouble long enough for the Cards to prevail, 12-6.

The ability to navigate around steaming piles is what has Arizona at 11-3 and assured of a spot in the playoffs. They can clinch the NFC’s No. 1 seed with a win at home Sunday, so the situation is good — but the circumstances are perilous. Lindley returned to the desert only in November after being on the Chargers’ practice squad.

Arians said he told Lindley, a sixth-round pick out of San Diego State in 2012, to relax.

“Go sling it, baby,” Arians said he told Lindley. “Go have fun. You’re here for a reason.”

Well, what the hell. They can’t disqualify the Cards from the playoffs.

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, refraining from licking his chops Monday, said they had draft scouting information on Lindley — he was in the same draft as QB Russell Wilson — but little that was fresh.

“We know of him — we studied him hard when he came out,” he said. “(Thomas) as well. We have background on those guys. But not a lot of game film.

“Bruce is a terrific quarterbacks coach. He knows what he’ doing. We know he’ll get the most out of them. It sounds like they want to play both of them, so it’ll be interesting to see how they do that.”

They will attempt to pull it off in part by leaning on a running game that looked decent against St. Louis despite the injury absence of RB Andre Ellington. The Cards had 143 yards in 33 attempts.

I think they’ve committed to it a little bit last week,” Carroll said. “They knew they had to with a new quarterback popping in. They’ve got a real good running attack but they love throwing the football too. So we have to see how that all comes together.”

Or comes apart.


Carroll was asked whether his pre-game meeting with 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh was a “warm moment.” Smiling, Carroll said, “Uh, I don’t know that I would refer to it as a warm moment. We had a moment. You have to ask Jim if he felt it was a warm moment.  Nice exchange. Just coaches’ talk.” . . . The game is 5:30 p.m. Sunday on NBC at University of Phoenix Stadium, site of Super Bowl XVIX . . . Carroll said TE Cooper Helfet was likely to be ready after a sprained ankle, which was good news for Seattle considering fellow TE Tony Moeaki banged up his right shoulder and may not be available.


  • RunningRoy

    Just beware the Ghosts of Clipboard Jesus Past. He once won a mega game for the Hawks with all of one one crucial completion

    • 1coolguy

      Wow – good memory. That was a pretty remarkable play wasn’t it? Especially from Charlie!

    • art thiel

      Good pull, Roy. The Rams’ QB Austin Davis (or was it Davis Austin?) helped beat the Seahawks earlier this season.

  • ll9956

    It would be prudent for the Hawks D to prepare as if Lindley and Thomas were elite QBs, even though they haven’t yet earned such a label. The worst possible mistake they could make is to take a casual attitude toward these inexperienced guys. If a player is good enough to start in the NFL, he should be assumed competent and a threat. The Cardinals will probably give a little more emphasis to the run offense, but well placed passes when not expected could be damaging to the Hawks.


    • art thiel

      By Friday, Carroll will convince his guys that when he saw Lindley in HS in San Diego, he was sure he would be the next Tom Brady.

  • 1coolguy

    My big Concern for this game is the O line: Okung is out, Unger is out (Jeanpierre gets a game ball for his subbing but he is no ALL Pro as is Unger), and Britt is still “The Matador”, whiffing at each end rush in pass blocking.
    The 4th and 39 (THIRTY-NINE) the Hawks had in the 4th quarter was after Okung left and is a preview of what Arizona will do to this less than capable O line.
    Russell and the coaches know this, so I expect he will be wearing a double thick flack jacket and will be on a continuous scramble.
    The Hawks need to come out running, unlike the SF game, and stay with it. 11 first half rushes won’t cut it, so this blocking challenged line can do the simpler run blocking.

    • Pixdawg13

      Care to share your coaching resume?

      Oh. I see.

      • 1coolguy

        Sure – HS asst coach over the past 21 years. Yours?
        These posts are not to the exclusive use of coaches or players, but for the average fan. Apparently you take these WAY too seriously.
        Lighten up and accept that maybe we aren’t all as informed as you apparently are.
        So, please get back to the fun of being an interested fan and take it no further.

        • art thiel

          Kids, kids, kids, not in the house! Go play in the street.

          • 1coolguy

            Haha. My thoughts also. Good one Art

  • jafabian

    I’ve wondered what the Hawks would do in a similar situation? We know what Tavaris can do. Can BJ Daniels step it up if needed after being on the practice squad for 2 years. I was a bit surprised that Keith Price wasn’t retained for that.

    Despite the anticipated absence of Okung and Unger and the learning curve of Britt the O-Line should be able to do at least give Wilson adequate protection and give Marshawn the room he needs. The Cardinals might be without starting G Paul Fanaika and nickel corner Tyrann Mathieu has a broken thumb but will play with a cast. Except for CB Eddie Whitley the remaining six players on IR for the Cards are all starters (their punter is on IR?) whereas of the 13 (gasp) the Hawks have, three are starters. Predicting a 24-13 win for the champs.

    • 1coolguy

      Great ideas – sounds like a good prediction also! Go Hawks!

    • art thiel

      That’s a lot of points. Don’t forget the Fisher factor. He might be the one coach craftier than Carroll.

      • 1coolguy

        Got that right. Both of these are well coached, dangerous teams. Beating the Hawks makes their season.

  • Its onlySports(DavidWakefield)

    Considering some of the bone jarring hits they were applying on the 9ers last sunday this defense might force Arians to use his 4th stringer simply out of necessity . Its heat up time of the year as seen with 6 sacks against Kaep…so Lindley could be an endangered species.

    • art thiel

      So could Wilson. AZ sacked him seven times in the first game. You may see a lot of two step drop throws on both sides.

  • Schaefdawg

    I doubt Arizona will leave this QB in the pocket to be munched by the rush, so what can Fisher dream up to try and win? roll outs, fast screens, options, is this kid mobile at all?
    Don’t expect Az to be predictable, that’s what our defense loves to feast on, predictability.