Arizona Cardinals Culture of Evolution


Culture of Evolution in the Desert

Who do you blame for a franchise’s culture? Is it the NFL team’s president? Is it a combination of GM, head coach, and surrounding staff? Or, can you attribute it to a spark that is created when all of the right pieces come together at the same time? I vote for the latter.

In the Sonoran Desert animals specialize to survive and so do the players and staff of the Arizona Cardinals. They evolve to survive and thrive in the ever-increasing competition of the NFL.

Prior to a recent paradigm shift, the Arizona Cardinals have had only one identity and it was one of poor draft picks and losing records. Perhaps by chance or better by clever design, the Arizona Cardinals as a whole have committed to a new philosophy in the last decade. A finely-tuned culture has emerged that focuses on one truth, personal evolution.

So how did this happen? This happened like all evolution happens, the right pieces came together at the right time, in the right setting by both design and chance. Bill Bidwell, Cardinals’ President, took a chance on a young scout who rose through the ranks of the Cardinals’ front-office with Steve Keim. He took another chance on an old bull-dog coach who was ready for retirement but found new invigoration in the desert with Coach Bruce Arians.

Getting this opportunity has really rejuvenated me as far as coaching. I am really excited to go to wok every day. – Bruce Arians

With the two front-office pillars firmly grounded, the Cardinals began to spread this perspective of evolution throughout the entire organization. It’s all about giving individuals chances to succeed and seeing how they react and rise to the occasion. This was evident with the evolution of former defensive coordinator and now head coach of the New York Jets, Todd Bowles. This again was exemplified with the recent promotion of James Bettcher, promoted to fill the void left by Bowles.

“I think it’s your job to push guys, to make them coordinators, to make them head coaches.” Said Bruce Arians in a recent interview on ESPN.

Continue to look closer at the staff and you will find former Arizona Cardinals’ players getting the opportunity to grow into NFL coaches with both Larry Foote and Rod Hood.

The pillars are established with coaches but to really see if the culture is being embraced you have to look to the players. Enter Karlos Dansby and Antonio Cromartie. Yes, both players are no longer with the team but that is because they were given an opportunity to evolve, to reignite fading careers and they did. In 2013, Dansby put up an impressive 6.5 sacks, 114 tackles, 4 interceptions and 2 touchdowns. In 2014, Cromartie also shined with 3 picks, 46 tackles and 12 passes defended. They both

Now the front-office looks to another two players of great potential to rise to the occasion, Lamarr Woodley and Sean Weatherspoon. Both are on short-term contracts and both hope to disprove doubts and evolve into the players they know they are.

This can be a bright season if Weatherspoon and Woodley rise to the occasion. Other players have the oppotunity to evolve and become pillars of this team. Tyrann Mathieu, Jonathan Cooper, Troy Niklas, Justin Bethel, John Brown and more have a big year ahead of them. Drafted rookies and even the undrafted rookies (Jaxon Shipley) can evolve and take hold of a role on this team.

At the very core of the Cardinals, I look to one player. Change comes from within. No matter how much the coaches coach and the front-office brings in talent, there has to be a current, a buzz, an electricity in the locker room that says, I see this challenge and I will grow so I can conquer it. This person is quite possibly the most important pillar and he is Larry Fitzgerald.

Some may argue that his contribution and cost negate the statement above but I would disagree. Since Larry’s entrance into Arizona in 2004, he brought an optimistic push for excellence that permeated within the team’s culture and that of the entire state. He brings the best out in people. Players see that. Players also see how the front-office respects him and realize that if they commit to excellence and selflessness like Larry does they can thrive and evolve in the sport and in life.

The Arizona Cardinals Culture of Evolution can be a leading light for those that seek to change themselves for the better. The time is now.

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