The Morning After: The Offseason Begins for the Arizona Cardinals
By Erich Becker
A bad loss at the wrong time doomed the Arizona Cardinals, but all is not as dire as some make it seem
There was a time last night when I was upset, angry, and just in pure question mode as to what I was witnessing, here was an Arizona Cardinals team who won 13 games, many in stylistic fashion and I was trying to justify who they lost two of the three that they did. The Seattle loss seemed like an anomaly, but after watching the offense sputter last week versus Green Bay, and then seeing the show (or lack of one) yesterday in Carolina, it made me wonder that maybe the team wasn’t as good as we thought this whole time.
But, at the same time, I remember that it is not how you win the games, it is that you put yourself in a position to win, and actually pull the trigger. Sure the Cardinals could have been 15-1 team that had home field advantage, but at the same time with games against the Ravens and Vikings and to a point Cincinnatti and Seattle, they could have been a 10-6 team easily as well. Sometimes you get the luck on your side, sometimes you don’t.
What does all this rambling mean?
This was a good season, and before the fans turn on a great team that had a bad game, remember all of the experiences that you witnessed this year. Sure, when the culmination of the entire season ends two wins short of the ultimate goal you have a feeling of disappointment, maybe anger and disgust for a while (can you tell I just watched Inside Out?), but when reality sets back in and you realize you had it better than 30 other teams this season, you see what you have accomplished and what you should be proud of.
There will be a lot of bandwagoners who will flee the confines of the Bird Gang in the coming days, who will go back to not caring about this team just like in 2008 when they lost and in 2009 when they lost in the second round of the playoffs, but that’s just how it is with every pro sports team. Baseball, football, hockey and basketball, when a team is good, the community is full of flags and colors and mayors all giving grandstanding speeches. It is when a team has a bad loss, a bad season, or a bad run that you see who the true fans really are.
It is when a team has a bad loss, a bad season, or a bad run that you see who the true fans really are.
The Cardinals did not play well yesterday, and Steve Keim on Arizona Sports 98.7FM this morning said it flat out, pass rush. Simply put, when the secondary had a bad day, and there was no pass rush to keep the quarterback honest, they were just playing catch out there. I won’t let my personal feelings about Cam Newton and how he handles the game of pro football cloud my judgement here. That team made the plays they had to make to win, the team from Arizona did not.
So where do we go from here?
The core of the team is set for a while, with a few contract issues looming (Michael Floyd) and other extensions that need to be signed (Tyrann Mathieu), but the focus should be on the pass rush, we need a front four that can be feared, a core set of linebackers who can get to the quarterback and cover, and more depth at cornerback so we can handle an injury or two.
This isn’t on Carson Palmer, this isn’t on Bruce Arians, this isn’t on Steve Keim. Yes, the former two did make some questionable play calling decisions that the team paid for, but every team is allowed to have a bad game or two, this just wasn’t really the time or place that we, as fans, wanted to see it happen, a game from the biggest stage in professional sports.
So while we may feel angry, feel the sting for a few weeks, there’s a lot to happen that can get you excited about next season. Free Agency and the Draft will allow the team to rebuild, with new pieces and new excitement to creep back into the football fold as we work through the dog days of summer towards a 90 man roster once again.
So don’t blame the QB, or the coach, or the GM or the fans, or anyone, not every team can win it all, not every team will get this close, and not every team has the magic to really pull off every big game and have luck fall on their side week-in-week out.
Keep your chin up, and let’s look forward to an equally excellent 2016 season.