The Arizona Cardinals cannot be stopped. Or at least that’s what it seems.
Be it through free agency, suspensions, injuries, you name it, Arizona has already overcame a plethora of obstacles in regards to the 2014 season. And it’s only Week 3.
It started with the defection of Karlos Dansby, who signed with the Cleveland Browns in the offseason. Next was the season-long suspension to Daryl Washington. Injuries to Tyrann Mathieu and Darnell Dockett happened and most recently Carson Palmer surprisingly made his way to the sidelines.
Despite all of those obstacles, Arizona hasn’t missed a beat.
The Cardinals are off to a 2-0 start which includes victories over the San Diego Chargers – a playoff team from a year ago who also just defeated the reigning Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks. The other win was against an underwhelming New York Giants squad, but it was on the road, across the country with a backup quarterback under center. Not too shabby.
So how has this happened? The answer: coach Bruce Arians.
Since Arians arrived in the desert, Arizona has a regular season record of 12-6 which ties them with the Philadelphia Eagles for the sixth-best record from 2013 through the first two weeks of 2014. If you’re wondering, only the Denver Broncos (15-3), Seahawks (14-4), Cincinnati Bengals (13-5), New England Patriots (13-5) and San Francisco 49ers (13-5) have a better record during that time frame.
If you compare the rosters of the abovementioned teams with that of the Cardinals, it would be hard to believe their records are that close.
Arizona has a journeyman quarterback (Palmer) who was an outcast in Cincinnati and fell to the deepest depths of the league with the Oakland Raiders. The Cardinals starting running back (Andre Ellington) is undersized and was projected to be, at best, a third-down back in the NFL. We could continue down the list, but you get the point.
Defensively, yes, the Cardinals do have some star power in Patrick Peterson, but other than that it’s a hodgepodge of thought to be washed-up veterans with young players that the Cardinals took a chance on in the draft or via free agency. So far those chances are working out well.
While a great deal of credit must go to the players, Arians has been the defining force through his attitude, work ethic and host of other intangibles. Those intangibles became obvious during a magical stint with the Indianapolis Colts in 2012.
Arians' role as offensive coordinator expanded into something much bigger when he was named interim head coach following Chuck Pagano’s diagnosis of Leukemia. Arians became a hot commodity in head coaching searches across the league after leading the Colts to a record of 9-3 during his time at the helm.
Since being hired by the Cardinals, those same intangibles have already been apparent in Arizona, but are starting to shine even brighter just two games into the 2014 campaign.
So what’s next for the Cardinals? Funny you should ask as things certainly don’t get any easier for a team already defying the odds.
Week 3 features a home matchup against the 49ers with a bye week sandwiched in-between a date with the Broncos at Mile High Stadium. Should Arizona somehow come through unscathed there will be a Super Bowl or bust feeling in the desert. And, by the way, this year’s Super Bowl would be a short road trip for the Cardinals, being played on its home turf at University of Phoenix Stadium.
But for now, let’s shun the Super Bowl talk and let the course of the season take its path. Arizona will look to continue defying the odds, and it will be Arians leading the way.
Arians, Cardinals defying the odds
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