Time to get the season going.
To help provide some intel on what we're up against, I linked up with Jess Root from Revenge of the Birds, SB Nation's community for fans of the Arizona Cardinal.
Welp. Here we go again...If we can, let's jump off of 2012. When you guys came to St. Louis for a Thursday night contest in early October, you were 4-0. It would be the first of nine losses, propelled by the Rams' nine sacks that night. In the second matchup, Ryan Lindley played a shorter passing game, going 31/52 and averaging just over 10 yards per completion (compared to Sam Bradford who gained more than 25 yards per completion in that second contest). Was there anything that happened in the two Rams-Cardinals games from last year that persisted among the fan bases? Were they just two down games in a season that had more than I'm sure you guys want to remember? What has to change for you guys from 2012 to 2013 to win those kinds of games?
Well, by the time the Rams came to town, the season was lost. Once Lindley was in the lineup, things were ugly. The one that still stings is the Thursday night Week 5 loss. That 4-0 start was magical. Then it all came crumbling down with a half a million hits of Kevin Kolb in 60 minutes. What has to change? ALL THE SACKS! At this point, we are all just trying to erase 2012 because with a new staff and half of a new roster, it is all looking ahead. the one thing that cannot happen is a nine sack performance.
On to bigger and better things for you guys (after Sunday, of course...). What does Carson Palmer have to do to endear himself to Cardinals fans, if not avoid the same kind of derision his predecessors have been exposed to? With a pretty tough first eight games before the bye, how does he make it to week 9 without having the fan base wondering what Drew Stanton might offer?
Palmer is solid. He already has fans excited because he threw for over 4,000 yards...with the Raiders. The other quarterbacks were criticized because they were either terrible (Derek Anderson, John Skelton, Max Hall, Ryan Lindley) or just kept getting hurt (Kevin Kolb). Palmer just needs to not be terrible to appease fans. No one here is really wondering about Drew Stanton. We feel that he is a more than capable backup who perhaps is starting material.
On the defensive side, there's plenty of talent. It certainly seems as if, much like the rest of the NFC West, this is a team built to succeed on the back of its defense. Is it a defense though that can deliver?
That is an unknown. There are six new starters and a new staff. We think it can, but the results will show us that in the weeks to come. DC Todd Bowles does not have a track record to say that things will be great. There is potential, he is similar to Ray Horton, the core talent is the same and then there is the execution.
Bruce Arians is finally an NFL head coach. What has he done this offseason to give comfort to Cardinals fans that wonder if there was good reason for him having never ascended to the top of an NFL coaching staff? What about the rest of the coaching team; who's on their way to an NFL head coaching spot?
It is an interesting mix. Of the whole staff, the only one I could see getting a head coaching job anytime soon would be Bowles, and that would be because he has been a coordinator and he has been an interim HC. Most are either older or unproven. Harold Goodwin is an OC for the first time. The position coaches are still just that. It is a staff that should stay intact for a while...I think.
Back around to the division. The both of us are going up against two of the stronger teams in the league. If you had to pick either Seattle or San Francisco to slip out of the top two in the division, who would you pick? What are the chances the NFC West sends three teams to the playoffs? In terms of power rankings, can all four NFC West teams be consensus top half teams by the end of the year? Where do the Cardinals need to finish to avoid calling this season a failed run?
I take Seattle. Colin Kaepernick needs to show that he can do what he did over a full season. Russell Wilson already did. Plus, Kaepernick is without his favorite receiver in Michael Crabtree. I don't think that three teams will come out of the West, but that is because of how the teams will beat each other up. It would have to mean that the Cards or the Rams go almost winless in the division. I think all four being in the top half of power rankings would have to mean that both Seattle and San Francisco to take a small step back in their record and have the Rams and Cardinals take a two steps forward.
As for avoiding failure this season, as long as the Cardinals are competitive through the season to the end and in the postseason picture, it will be a considered not a failure.
Thanks to Jess to for taking the time to answer these.