It has not been what the Arizona Cardinals expected from their 2016 season, at least so far. Through eight games they sit at 3-4-1, but even more importantly, they sit two games back of the Seattle Seahawks in the division and are one of seven teams with serious Wild Card Playoff chances in the NFC.
Yet, through it all there has been a lot of talk on who to blame, how this happened, what needs to change and where the Arizona Cardinals are as a team.
The reality for the Arizona Cardinals and their fans, they are right where they need to be.
While the idea this season was similar to last, Super Bowl or bust, the results have not been the same, which has set off panic within many fans, and in even more fans, apathy.
I have witnessed the interest in the Arizona Cardinals move from a white hot fire, to a barely stoked ember. I can’t say I blame the fan base, this season has been the least enjoyable of the four in the Bruce Arians era.
In 2013, a similar start was okay because it was so bad the previous years. It was still fresh, new and there was still hope until they turned it on in the second half.
In 2014, despite losing Carson Palmer at about this moment, the team instilled a confidence in the fans that made them buy into not only Drew Stanton but Ryan Lindley.
2015 was the ultimate experience for fans, they had not only a great team, they had one of, if not the most exciting teams in the NFL. They were the best offensive team in the NFL, they had primetime games peppered through the schedule and nearly all of those games were must see television. They had a coach who was adored by everyone, they had a quarterback who was finding the fountain of youth and a wide receiver who was putting up numbers as if he was 22 again. It was the pinnacle of fandom. They took us all to the peak.
Why would we expect anything different for 2016?
Well, 2016 is different in a lot of ways, but most importantly for this blog, it is different for the Arizona Cardinals.
The team is not dynamic offensively, they have had too many struggles defensively, despite their gaudy total yardage and scoring standings and their special teams has been abysmal.
Yet, in some weird way, they are okay.
They have put together good to very good parts of games, they have done so with two of their most explosive offensive players putting up worthless first halves, John Brown and Michael Floyd, and they have continued to produce defensively despite trying to find a continuity on the front line and in the secondary.
There is still hope, maybe they are not a dominant team, maybe they lack the explosive offense and Tyrann Mathieu led swag on defense, but they are still in this. They still have a shot because of the mediocrity within the NFC, and the overall ability of key players: David Johnson and the pass defense. They need to find their explosiveness. They need to find their ability to stop the run.
All the bad that has happened through the first eight games can be erased over the next two weeks, if the Arizona Cardinals can find their game again.