by Javon Adams
Heading into the season I sat down with my partner, Ed Smith and we participated in the age old tradition of prognostication. You know how it goes, right? Grab the NFL schedule and pick wins and losses solely based upon what a team looks like on paper. When the exercise was completed we had both reached the same conclusion: 7 wins and maybe 9 if all things fell into place for the Arizona Cardinals.
As you can imagine we felt the wrath of the Bird Gang fan base when we shared our thoughts via our Bleav in the Arizona Cardinals podcast and on our weekly show, EZ Sports Talk Show. The 49ers were fresh off of a Super Bowl Appearance and the Seattle Seahawks are essentially the San Antonio Spurs of football. So you can’t count them out. The wildcard was the Los Angeles Rams and what appeared at the time to be ill advised off season moves. Don’t forget that the Cardinals were still dealing with people learning on the job. Namely their #1 draft pick, Kyler Murray and the ultra cool and hip head coach Kliff Kingsbury. Both of them were entering their second year so a little growth was expected but not an exponential leap.
Fast forward to the actual season and things seemed a bit different. Injuries mounted for the 49ers and the Rams were playing well. Ed, like most players and coaches from the NFL likes to break down the season into quarters. Lo and behold, after two quarters of the season the Arizona Cardinals were 5-2. There was a lot of crow being served to EZ and me. We ate it happily because believe it or not, we want the home team to win.
We still saw flaws. Probably the same flaws that everyone else saw but chose to ignore due to giddiness. Completely understandable. The last four games have not been as euphoria inducing as they have gone 1-3. The one win was a result of the ‘Hail Murray’ play. But we do not apologize for wins.
The loss to the New England Patriots and Bill Belichick seemed to send Cardinals fans into a downward spiral. Coaching decisions at end of halves and end of games have been questioned. Kickers have been vilified. And the list goes on. The Cardinals are now at the 7the playoff spot with the 49ers showing resiliency and slowing returning to health. What if the Arizona Cardinals do not make it to playoffs?
It would most assuredly be a letdown after a very encouraging start. The Valley of the Sun has been yearning to return to the playoffs and relevancy. I wonder if they expectations elevated too quickly. With wins come hope and more wins brings a level of certainty but this team is still trying to figure it out. There are signs of growth but also opportunities to improve as well. I hope that if the team finishes 8-8 or makes the playoffs only to be quickly jettisoned that the fanbase and media are not quick to react negatively. Year 3 may be where the expectations should lie. Rise up red sea but don’t let those expectations rise too high this year.