The Arizona Cardinals have surprised pretty much the entire football world with their 9-1 start to the season. But it isn't a surprise to everyone. Cornerback Patrick Peterson was not surprised, as he told me in an interview recently.
Peterson is the Cardinals player promoting the Tide Color Captains program and made some media rounds as part of it.
Peterson is one of 32 "Color Captains" who teamed up with Tide to show pre-game rituals that get them ready to "defend our colors." Peterson will recognize Hall of Famer and Cardinals legend Aeneas Williams and pay homage to him. He says "we have something special in store for fans to get them even more pumped up for the big division matchup" this weekend in Seattle against the defending champ Seahawks.
I asked Peterson about the start to the season. He said "it feels good to be 9-1" and recalled the 2012 mess, when they lost 11 of 12 to end the season.
But he isn't surprised about the team's start this year. "I definitely saw the team doing this well because of the way we finished off last season," he said. "Being a hot team and winning seven of our last nine. I knew we could do something special the following season."
A lot of the success has come because of the defense. The pass defense has even turned things around. After allowing 309 yards per game in their first five games, the last five they have allowed an average of 221 yards and have held teams to under 200 passing yards in four of those five games, including the last three weeks.
"I believe we are getting more press on the QB," Peterson said to explain why things have turned around. "The defensive linemen are taking advantage of the offensive line, stalling the timing so (QBs) get rid of the ball quicker. Secondary, we are just making plays now."
I asked Patrick about teammate Antonio Cromartie and what he has meant to him personally, to the team and whether or not he would like the veteran to stick around beyond this season. After all, Cro is one a one-year deal.
"I would love Cro to stay and play for the Cardinals a few more seasons," he answered. "You need 2 solid cornerbacks in the league now that it is has turned into a passing league.
"Personally, he has really helped me in my game -- how to study. He has been in this league for 9 years -- he's been in to see AFC playoff games, going against the top-notch receivers for years now. To have him in our locker room is something great for our roster."
Like it appears to be for all the players on the team, the ultimate goal is to win a Super Bowl. Peterson actually has that as one of his personal goals. But I wanted to know more. He said "of course" he "wants to lead the league in interceptions." He has two on the season, but had one taken away from him on Sunday hen his teammate Rashad Johnson jumped in front of the pass and picked it off himself.
But that isn't all. He has a big goal for himself. "I want to be a defensive MVP," he said.
Peterson said he sometimes misses returning punts and sometimes not.
"At times I do and at times I don't (miss punt returns) due to all the big hits," he said. "I don't play the game scared by any stretch of the imagination. It's just I believe not playing it can prolong my career because I'm not getting hit as much returning punts. Do I miss the fame and the glory of the position? Of course. The hits, though, not at all."
Peterson said that for three weeks now he is 100 percent with his ankle. I asked how much it bothered him before and he deflected it, saying he's 100 percent now and has been.
Can reach his goals? With six games remaining, he certainly can try. Defensive MVP will be tough with the year that J.J. Watt is having, but the big one, winning a Super Bowl, looks more and more possible every single week.
Be sure to follow @TideNFL and #OurColors and look out for some exclusive content from Peterson and the rest of the Color Captains throughout the rest of the season that honors the legends that defined our colors.