Post Football Therapy  

 

Post Football Therapy: Arizona Cardinals

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Ah, man, the poor Birds.

What a season for you folks. My friend Bill told me last summer that the Birds were going to be the first team in NFL history to play in the Super Bowl in their own home stadium. (And I would like to point out that Bill is just one of my good friends. He's not a celebrity. I grow tired of writers who casually mention "my pal" when talking about their famous friends [you know who they are]. Like if I kept mentioning my pal Dolph and not saying that he's famous. Even though we all damn well know there are just two dudes in the world named Dolph, both of them being famous. So I won't do that to you because it's disingenuous. Bill is just my buddy who owns his own business in Los Alamitos, Calif. Nice guy, too.)

Post Football Therapy

The 2014 season is in the books. For many fans, it was a rough one to watch. To help leave that season behind, we've got some reasons why 2015 will be a much better year for those teams that were left licking their wounds instead of hoisting the Lombardi Trophy.

So yes, Bill thought the Cardinals were going to play in the Super Bowl. I didn't completely dismiss him, but I didn't buy-in either. And really, I didn't have a reason not to believe him. Part of me felt the Birds wouldn't do it because no team has ever done it. And then that starts a pretty dangerous precedent because I hate people who rule out players or things because of past history. Like, "This receiver won't be good because he went to USC." It's super lazy and kind of irresponsible. Besides, the Cardinals were 10-6 in 2013 with an even better team last year. So I thought, why not?

I was over the moon for my pal Bill (not famous) when the Birds started 15-0. Or maybe it was 9-1. But whatever, things looked awesome for the Birds then. But unfortunately, that's when all of the unpleasantness happened. We don't need to go back and rehash what happened to Carson Palmer. Though, I would like to blame Kimo Von Oelhoffen (yep, same knee). Not only Palmer, but Drew Stanton, too, was lost for the season. It was like the Max Hall era all over again.

At least the team made the playoffs. It would have been easy for this team to finish with nine wins and miss the tournament. But the Cardinals prevailed in the toughest division in football and made the playoffs. And I wouldn't be shocked to see them do it again in 2015.

Palmer is healing up nicely

The reports out of Arizona indicate Palmer is ahead of schedule, which is awesome.

"He's awesome," general manager Steve Keim told Arizonasports.com. "He came in, I believe it was yesterday and I talked to him at length. He's more energized than ever and he looked fantastic."

That's great news. Palmer might be 35, but he still has a couple of good years left in him. You guys have a nice receiving corps, too. Larry Fitzgerald was owed something like $294 million for the 2015 season. But you guys were able to rework his contract and get that taken care of. You also have John Brown who was pretty solid during his rookie season. Everything gets skewed now because Odell Beckham Jr. was unbelievable. But Brown looked pretty good and his touchdown freakout dance is something to behold as well.

Like Andre Ellington, too. He's not an every-down back. Sorry. He just isn't. If the Birds could land somebody like Melvin Gordon or Todd Gurley in the draft, well, you'd really be cooking with gas at that point. So the offense is looking good.

The defense will still be good

There will be some concern because Todd Bowles did an amazing job with his side of the ball in the wake of so many injuries. It got so bad in Arizona there were times during the season when I could have sworn Akbar had a text message from the Cardinals about joining their team. I believe 876 players suited up for the Cardinals on defense last year. Or it just seemed that way.

But what do you do now that Bowles is headed to the Jets? Eh, don't worry about it too much. I'm not telling tales out of school to say the Cardinals defense has been pretty good over the past couple of years. You can go all the way back to Ray Horton and his defenses. Bowles, while he did a great job, kept the momentum going. I figure new defensive coordinator James Bettcher will do the same thing. So there is no reason to panic at all.

Why?

You have the best football coach on the planet

Well, maybe the best coach on the planet who isn't Bill Belichick. I'm serious about this. If you had to pick one head coach to guide your team, Belichick would be my first choice. Honestly, you can't argue with that. But Bruce Arians is far-and-away the No. 2 coach in the league. Who would you take over him?

Arians took over the Colts two years ago for Chuck Pagano and led them to the playoffs. Now he's resurrected the Cardinals franchise, too. Twenty one wins in two seasons would be like back-to-back Super Bowl championships for just about any other franchise. Well, not you Cleveland. But just about any normal franchise.

I have no reason to go against Arians this season, either. The Cardinals would have won the NFC West if Palmer was healthy last year. And I'm pretty confident they would have made a solid run through the playoffs, too.

So maybe my buddy Bill (not famous) was just a year off from his prediction. Put it this way, would you want to go against Arians and what he's been able to do after the past three seasons? I didn't think so.

Adam Rank still owns a pair of Cardinals practice shorts he received from Garth Jax when he played in a celebrity (using the term loosely) game at Sun Devil Stadium. You can reach him on Twitter @adamrank.

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