Outside observers have called them old, but the Arizona Cardinals would prefer the word experienced to describe their roster
The smile across the face of the Arizona Cardinals’ Bruce Arians was a mile wide. His squad had just survived a fierce Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ rally, and had escaped with a 38-33 victory. It wasn’t difficult to figure out who the head coach was giving credit to for the win.
“Obviously, a day for old guys”, Arians quipped as he walked to the podium. “I know how to coach old guys”. In fact, it appears as if he actually prefers it.
While other franchises around the NFL are constantly stressing the need to get younger, the Cardinals took the opposite viewpoint this offseason. An array of veterans were brought in, some with a double-digit number of seasons under their belts. They were joining a roster that already contained a host of “older” players.
Carson Palmer has been called washed-up by many, and he even contemplated retirement this past offseason. But like a fine wine, Arizona’s signal-caller seems to be getting better with age. The 37-year old Palmer’s arm appears as strong as ever, and he’s on pace to throw for an eye-popping 4,949 yards this year.
Another Cardinal is also getting up there in years, and also considered making 2016 his farewell campaign. Larry Fitzgerald is a 34-year old wide receiver who’s going on 24. The future Hall of Famer is heading towards his third consecutive season with 100-plus receptions, incredible numbers for a player in his 14th year.
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Adrian Peterson arrived last week, and has put a charge into the organization. The New Orleans Saints obviously thought the 32-year old was past his prime, since they traded him to the Cards for basically peanuts (a sixth-round draft pick). The 134 rushing yards and two touchdowns he tallied against the Bucs showed that Peterson may not be ready for a nursing home just yet.
The vast experience is just not on the offensive side of the ball. 33-year old safety Antoine Bethea has already picked off three passes in just six contests with Arizona. First-year Cardinal Tramon Williams, 34, came up with a huge interception against Tampa Bay, and 35-year old inside linebacker Karlos Dansby has been a tackling machine.
Phil Dawson is the team’s oldest player at 42. The placekicker has settled in nicely after missing a few field goals early in the season. 35-year old Andy Lee is the Cards’ best punter in years.
It may just be that the veteran members of his ball club provide a level of comfort for Arians. Those type of players for the most part already know what they’re doing, which makes his job much easier. And that’s just fine with Arians.