The Same Ol' Cardinals - I Think Not!

The Arizona Cardinals have been in a slump – just look at the last 3 seasons. Since Kurt Warner left in 2009, the Cards have gone 5-11, 8-8, & 5-11. Before that, the playoffs and a Super Bowl. Before that, decades of nothing...but that’s all water under the bridge now...

The Cardinals have been reforged...and will once again rise like the Phoenix from the ashes. Mark my words! Some doubt, but I believe. As it turns out, Michael Bidwill has already set our ascent to the upper echelons of the NFL in motion.

Michael Bidwill began in 2007. Soon after, we got The University of Phoenix stadium for our players and fans to marvel at, increasing both attendance and revenue stream to the team. This set the stage (quite literally) for our team to rise to new heights. But he didn’t stop after such a (quite literally) monumental task



Then, came the Ken Whisenhunt era, 2 NFC Championships, and a Super Bowl all in a 3 year period. In hindsight, this turned out to the work of Kurt Warner more than anyone. When he left, he left a vacuum at the quarterback position – essentially the lynch pin in the teams infrastructure had been pulled and the house of Cards came tumbling down (pun intended).



It’s easiest to blame everything on Kurt Warner leaving, but the blame game never gets anyone anywhere. The Cardinals know – we’ve played it the last 3 years and we got the same record last year that we did the year after Warner left. It took Michael Bidwill all this time to finally take charge and stake his claim as the next generation to sit on the Bidwill throne by solving the REAL problem: a complete overhaul of the Arizona Cardinals front office and coaching staff.

After doing so much, I’m personally refreshed to finally see him putting his personal stamp on the entire franchise future. Why? Because so far, Bidwill's gotten us results. First an amazing stadium, now an amazing GM and coaching staff. Just like a new coach and his players, a new owner should be able to pick his GM and coaches, and that’s what Bidwill finally got the chance to do with the sub-par performance over the last few seasons.

Everyone knows "football dynasties are made in the draft," and capitalizing on the draft starts with the General Manager. The Cardinals have had a pencil-pusher GM for more than a decade in Rod Graves. Most of our success in the draft can be attributed to Steve Keim's scouting more than Graves. Even before Keim became General Manager of the Arizona Cardinals, he pushed for Adrian Wilson, Patrick Peterson, Larry Fitzgerald, Darnell Dockett, Calais Cambell, and many more while Graves was busy balancing cap space. If I may be so bold, "Mr. Bidwill, GREAT F-ING HIRE! The guy eats, sleeps, and breaths football and bleeds "Cardinals Red." So far, Mr. Bidwill, good job...



Not only does Keim come from a scouting background, he comes from a Cardinals background. He's spent 14 years with the Cardinals and started at the bottom as a regional scout. He's worked his way up through sheer determination, focusing on his dream of becoming a General Manager in the National Football League. Keim went on record to say that he's wanted to be a General Manager in the NFL since he was 9 (or around there) years old - it's his dream. Now that he's been with the Cardinals for this long, worked his way up from the bottom, and Bidwill has finally given him the chance to be a GM, how hard do you think he will work to keep his job? What kind of picks do you think he'll make, coming from a scouting background? How much does he love the Arizona Cardinals? I think we all know the answers.



Next, came the head coach: Bruce Arians. First of all – and most importantly – he’s bald like Steve Keim, so fans instantly get the amusement of saying they look like brothers (that's important…), they have instant rapport with each other, and there’s a sense of unification in the building. Second, BA is "2012 Coach of the Year," an offensive play-calling guru, and a "players coach" among many other upsides. You can't really quantify the importance of rapport with your players, and coach BA has that. We couldn’t of really picked a better coach. Plus, I like the irony of putting him in another bleak and impossible situation, how many would describe the situation of becoming the interim coach for Pagano and becoming the head coach of the Arizona Cardinals.





Then, came the coaching staff. Anybody who doesn’t know who Tom Moore is, should watch football sometime instead of just acting like they do and posting on football-related websites like this. If all of Moore’s football knowledge suddenly spilt out of his head onto paper, we’d have a new Football Encyclopedia Britannica that young coaches would grow older than Moore actually is by just reading through them. If that’s not enough – which if you knew what you were talking about, it would be – we’ve got Tom Pratt (the Tom Moore of Pass Rush), John Lott (1/2 x Tom Moore of Strength and Conditioning), Todd Bowles (many are skeptical, but don’t know that we wanted him first before Ray Horton and last year he took over the helm of an already sinking Titanic in Philadelphia), multiple offensive line coaches (in the past we just had Russ Grimm...who sucked...and made everyone Grimm-ace at the sacks our quarterbacks took), among other great coaches. I missed a lot, but this paragraph is too long. Just know that we’ve got more coaches of a higher quality (much higher), almost to the point where each player gets his own personal "tutor."

Next, came the off season – where the ones who ACTUALLY win the games WERE acquired by the front office. Arians and Keim wasted no time and bringing in a player at EVERY POSITION OF NEED that we had, all the while clearing up much needed cap space. Not only did they succeed in getting the players to sign the contracts (which Whisenhunt and Graves would’ve let them walk like Manning to the Broncos), they signed current starters that could play on Day 1 next season, not projects. I have complete and utter faith in Steve Keim’s free agent board and that every player we signed will either be a quality starter or backup. One of the good things, is that almost every player they brought it was a starter on another team and not a backup or practice squad player.



I’ll only go into the most important acquisition: Carson Palmer. If you want to know how much better our coaching staff got, just look at our acquisition of Carson Palmer. Whisenhunt fumbled about with quarterbacks, while Arians comes in and in one off season, he acquires the quarterback who Kurt Warner himself said would be the best fit for this team back in 2011 (look it up, Kurt Warner publically stated that Carson Palmer would be the best successor to fill his shoes in Arizona back in 2011).

Just like Steve Keim, I’ve gone back and watched every throw made by Palmer in the last 3 years. You know what I saw? I saw a great quarterback throwing to bad receivers. I would say that at least half of Palmer’s incompletion were because of bad routes by the receivers or the receiver flat out dropping the pass. Multiple times, I saw Palmer throw a pass that actually hit the receiver square in the numbers or their hands and they dropped it – he couldn’t have thrown the ball better, but they dropped it.

Some of the time, the receiver actually bobbled a great pass right into the hands of the defender, accounting for (hmm, I would say at least a couple) of Palmer’s interceptions. Other times, the receiver curved his route, breaking in back of the defender instead of in front of them, leading to Carson’s seemingly bone-headed interception.

When you look closely at some of the tape, you see receivers getting really sloppy with their route running while Palmer has an edge rusher running full-tilt into his grill and he manages to put the pass right on the money (sometimes, the receiver isn’t even there to catch it)! Plus, he fits Arians’ scheme to a T. The guys got an accurate, long range ball that’s on par with Flacco, he’s got the football IQ to learn the scheme quick, and has had several 4000+ yard seasons with the bad receivers (last years 4000+ yard season was with arguably the worst receiver core in the NFL). Now, he’s going to be playing with who? LARRY FITZGERALD! Oh yeah, don’t forget about first round draft pick Michael Floyd and our ever-improving Andre Roberts.

Some of the finer points that I wanted to point out about Palmer:

  1. 1. Raiders offensive line considered just as bad as ours was WITH injuries. When Carson came to Oakland, the sack totals literally dropped from 49/44 the previous years to 25/27. Why? Because he reads the defense very well and gets the ball out under pressure. Even with our current offensive line, we can expect 30-40 sack range next year. With improved line, we can expect 20-30 or less.
  2. Carson put up 4000+ yards with a mediocre receiving core. We arguably have the best receiving core in the NFL. If the Raiders receivers would have caught all those dropped passes, Carson would’ve been in the range of "elite" quarterbacks with potentially a 5000+ yard season and maybe considerably more than just 22 touchdowns in just 14 games (which ties Joe Flacco’s regular season total in 16 games). Palmer put up similar numbers in 14 games with sub par receivers compared to Flacco in 16. In comparison, our total offensive yards in 2012 (around 4000) barely reached his passing yardage in 2012 (around 4000) in just 14 games. What does that mean? It means the addition of Carson alone is like doubling our offense. It makes sense too, because quarterback is the cornerstone of offensive in a pass-driven league. Now, that we have one, we are leaps-and-bounds better.
  3. Some will say, "but that was in garbage time!" Read this and shut up - ...I’ve researched all I need to know about Palmer in the last couple weeks to become an expert. If you want to hash it out, just PM me and I’d be happy to school you. If I misquote something in here, just let me know, because I’m mind-dumping research from memory.



Next step is the draft. If you want to know how the draft will go, just look at how Steve Keim and Bruce Arians have handled free agency. They’ve brought in the best players available. That’s what’s going to happen in the draft, regardless of positions of need. That’s how the best teams are built – by taking the best players. It just so happens that the best player on the board at #7 will likely be Chance WarmacK, an offensive lineman, a guard, which just so happens to be our biggest position of need considering Snyder couldn’t block a runaway shopping cart in a Walmart parking lot. I would say that fate is on our side here.

I’m sure I’m missing at least a few things, but I’ve done my part as a TRUE ARIZONA CARDINALS FAN. I’ve given all you non-fans a good perspective on the turn around that’s happening in Arizona, just as it happened in San Francisco and Seattle to make the NFC "Worst" into the NFC "Best"

Week 1: @Rams W
Week 2: Lions W
Week 3: @Saints W
Week 4: @Buccs W
Week 5: Panthers W
Week 6: @49ers L
Week 7: Seahawks L
Week 8: Falcons W
Week 9: Bye
Week 10: Texans L
Week 11: @Jacksonville W
Week 12: Colts W
Week 13: @Eagles W
Week 14: Rams L
Week 15: @Titans W
Week 16: @Seattle L
Week 17: 49ersW

<em>This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Revenge of the Birds' (ROTB) editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of ROTB's editors.</em>

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