Apr. 2, 2013; Tempe, AZ, USA; Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians (left) with quarterback quarterback Carson Palmer during a press conference to announce his signing with the team at the Cardinals practice facility. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Every year after the NFL Draft (and free agency), there is renewed hope and excitement for long-suffering and passionate, beloved and die-hard Cardinals fans. The feeling for passionate fans is similar to the feeling of being a kid in a candy store or the shiny new toys under the Christmas tree.
There is renewed hope that upper management made the right decisions in this year’s draft and through all of the free agent moves. There is renewed hope that the moves that have been made this year will spring us back to glory that we finally got a taste of in 2008. There is renewed hope that the moves made will bring the Cardinals back to the magic (the red sea) that fans felt in Arizona’s glorious new stadium after the NFC Championship win over the Philadelphia Eagles in 2008.
We still see the images after that magical win from immediately after the game. The magic that was in the air in the stadium on that special evening, the celebration in the parking lot after the game and even the fans celebrating on the side of the road on the way home hours after that magical day. This is the feeling that true Cardinals fans can understand.
With that being said, after the almost catastrophic changes that have been made recently from top to bottom of the organization, from afar, it is hard to imagine this year could possibly be productive or a playoff-caliber type of year. To take a bit of a closer look at some of the moves in the last few months, the Cardinals have moved on from GM Rod Graves to new GM Steve Keim, and they have moved on from beloved Kenny Whisenhunt (the Wiz) to new head coach Bruce Arians.
There is also new hope under center with the recent trade for Carson Palmer and dozens of free agent moves (much more so than in years past) along with the additions of recent draft picks. Most prognosticators say that the Cardinals truly fared well in this year’s draft, and draft grades from experts have ranged anywhere from a solid B to an A+ draft grade. It truly feels as though the Cardinals have been turned upside down on their head, as the Cardinals even released one of their most admired players in Adrian Wilson.
But for those that have watched closely, you can see some very risky but perhaps amazing moves, giving fans hope that the new regime has made the moves for the ages. It is giving the Cardinal faithful renewed hope that these moves will put the team back on course towards another Super Bowl that Cardinal fans finally got a taste of in 2008. That the moves made this offseason will set the organization upwards in the right direction for years to come. That have finally turned the corner to become the elite organization that fans dream it could become. But only time will tell.
However, having said that, there is truly something in the air this year that is giving Cardinal fans hope. The hope that all of the turnover that has taken place in the last few months will catapult them closer to the playoffs than into the cellar. But why is that? Are the fans deceiving themselves with false hope?
After all, most pundits are telling us that this is now the toughest division in the NFL, and most pundits have them in the cellar of our own division. Most pundits say that Seattle and San Francisco, are the teams to beat and after last season’s results, it truly is very easy to see why they feel that way. Perhaps it’s because the Cardinals have a new GM, a new head coach and a new leader behind center in Carson Palmer. Perhaps it’s the shiny new free agent acquisitions and draft picks, or perhaps it’s the glamorous combination of them all. But for some reason this year seems a little more special than in years past. But why?
In my opinion, it’s the abundance of new acquisitions that have taken place in the last few months from top to bottom that have given fans renewed hope and renewed excitement that often comes during this time of year. It’s the rose-colored glasses that fans still do not want to get rid of from that magical run in 2008. It’s like the shiny new toys under the Christmas tree that fans could not wait to open on that very special Christmas day. For Cardinal fans, Christmas day begins on the road in St. Louis on September 8, 2013.
Can the new toys lead the Cardinals to a successful season? That question remains to be answered, but it’s obvious that the Cardinals have something to look forward to in 2013.