Some people are fans of the Arizona Cardinals. But many, many more people are NOT fans of the Arizona Cardinals. This 2014 Deadspin NFL team preview is for those in the latter group.
Your team: Arizona Cardinals
Your 2013 record: 10-6. I'm serious! They won 10 games. No idea how that happened. After the end of the season, running back Rashard Mendenhall retired and posted this goodbye letter:
Imagine having a job where you're always on duty, and can never fully relax or you just may drown. Having to fight through waves and currents of praise and criticism, but mostly hate. I can't even count how many times I've been called a 'dumb nigger'.
Okay! Sounds like playing in Arizona was a blast.
Your coach: Bruce Arians. I really like Bruce Arians, but we should probably talk about the hat…
And the Zinka…
And this hat.
He's like the CAPS FOR SALE guy who gets all his caps stolen by the monkeys in the tree. YOU MONKEYS GIVE ME BACK MY CAPS. I can't take him all that seriously. He looks like a 56-year-old writer for basic cable award shows. Plus Leitch has a letter below about Arians being anti-stretching, which makes him an idiot.
Your quarterback: Carson Palmer, who threw 22 picks last year, and somehow that was his best season in ages. Only Eli Manning threw more (but when Eli throws a pick, it's cute). Palmer threw two or more picks in seven different games. Here's an extremely BOLD prediction: If Palmer does that again, the Cardinals won't win 10 games like they did last season. Call me nutty.
What's new that sucks: Well, everyone is either hurt or suspended already, so that's not good. LB Daryl Washington (suspended) is out for the year already, as is DT Darnell Dockett (hurt, which is actually good for you because he'll have more time to post videos of strippers on Instagram; he's crazy good at it). When you play in the same division as Seattle and San Francisco, that pretty much means your season is over before it started. All those Palmer interceptions will be for NOTHING.
Oh, and the team let Andre Roberts walk in free agency, which means that Larry Fitzgerald is again alone, stuck all by himself in both a literal and metaphorical desert. The only help the Cards brought in for Palmer and Fitz was Ted Ginn and John Carlson, which means they brought in no help at all. Running back Andre Ellington had one good game last year, forcing me to check the waiver wire and then say AWFUL things at the cock who grabbed him first. Ellington never topped a hundred yards after that, either because the Cards are too stupid to use him properly, or because he sucks. Or both! No need for it to be mutually exclusive.
Instead of fortifying the offense, the Cards used their cap space to extend the contract of Patrick Peterson, who is the team's best player, and is also quite good at getting absolutely fucking pwn3d on Twitter by other defensive backs. Peterson will man one side of the field while Antonio Cromartie gets picked on by every opposing offensive coordinator. Between seeing 50 passes come his way and taking care of his three dozen children, the man will have his hands full.
Also, here's the Honey Badger drinking without his shirt on . It's the only way to drink, really.
What has always sucked: You know the drill. Apart from two glorious seasons with Kurt Warner, this team is just like the Browns in that it couldn't find a decent quarterback if you put one in the center of a Denny's kiddie menu maze. The main narrative for this team over the past four years is that they can't find anyone to help Fitzgerald, even though no sane team would EVER build its roster around a single wideout. It's just that the Cardinals have been so utterly devoid of offensive talent for so long, fans treat Fitz like he's the fucking Hope Diamond. The o-line also fails to satisfy the local lust for proper border protection.
It's easy to say that Arizona has shitty bandwagon fans, but that doesn't quite get at how badly they suck. One of the main rallying cries for Cards fans on Twitter is #BIRDGANG, which is stupid and also happens to be a tag that Eagles fans use. So they are both lame AND confused. Also, have you ever been to that stadium area in Glendale? I have. Oh, people… have a look.
This place is basically a rest stop. It's out in the middle of nowhere and it's a series of poorly laid out chain restaurants and bars that no one ever goes to when it's not game day. It's a shopping mall that's basically set up to be like a downtown in a small exurb, because their poor urban planning led to no one being able to actually walk around anywhere. Fifty yards from the development, there's nothing but scrub brush and human bones. It's like one of those cities China built and then decided to abandon. It's a monument to Phoenician artificiality. Also, the stadium's naming rights belong to a for-profit diploma mill that's probably still the best university in the state.
I was in a van once with a dude who looked like Guy Fieri (but was not Guy Fieri). He was from Arizona, and I assume every guy from Arizona looks like either Guy Fieri or a grizzled old rancher who wants to bring his gun into the bar. Anyway, Junior Donkey Sauce here kept calling it AY-ZEE, as in, "We had a fucking great time in AY-ZEE!" Do you guys really do this? That's awful. Phoenix is like a giant landfill of every cheesy motherfucker we could find. No wonder every vapid pro athlete ends up retiring there. The whole state is a shitty sprawl that is 90 percent gas stations and Laundromats. Its layout makes it easy for rich people to live in a science-fiction style where they don't ever actually have to see or interact with the peasants, who are all busy getting their IDs checked by the cops every five minutes. The heat bakes people's brains and makes them crazy. One time I went to a NASCAR race in Phoenix, and the combination of deathly heat and rampaging exhaust was about as closer to death as I've ever gotten. You should never go to a NASCAR race, but you should REALLY never go to one in Arizona.
What might not suck: You got Peterson and the Honey Badger, you got yourself turnovers, almost enough to offset all the picks that Carson Palmer will throw!
Hear it from Cardinals fans!
Leitch, Clue Heywood, and Captain Lou:
*** We are so pre-conditioned to ineptitude that basically, five straight seasons of smart drafts, sound salary cap management and 9-7 end results — which this management team looks like it could pull off — would be the greatest run in franchise history by a massive margin. But of course that happens to coincide with the one five-year stretch in NFC West history in which 9-7 doesn't win you the division by four games. Last year's team was arguably better than the either one of the Warner playoff teams, at least regular season, and definitely on defense. Arians might be the best head coach the franchise has had in Arizona. And they're still probably going to miss the playoffs for the rest of the decade. Which is wonderful.
*** One weird thing about Arians: Arians refuses to do a group stretch. His quote from earlier in camp was that if a doberman was chasing you with a gun, you wouldn't have time to stretch. To be fair: an armed doberman would not be that far-fetched in Arizona. But still: You wonder why this team is constantly getting drilled by injuries.
*** Our fans are generally white trash rednecks with lifted trucks that never leave the pavement and giant rear window Olde-English Cardinals stickers. When one of our most visible superfans is a guy who looks vaguely like Kid Rock and calls himself "the kid," we're in trouble. Speaking of rear window stickers, one of us recently saw one with the Cardinal logo wearing a fedora covered in lipstick kiss marks on its face and collar. The kiss marks were from human lips. So many questions.
*** The team's exclusive season ticket holder "draft party" was at the stadium at 4:30 on a weekday. It was $50 per person for stadium food buffet and two drinks while the Cards made one pick. A lot of that is the NFL's fault, but we can't think of anything more depressing than paying $50 to go to Glendale on a weekday afternoon for a sad buffet. Of course we pay $110 to go to Glendale on Sundays only to be made fun of by bandwagon Seahawks fans.
*** We have "sold out" every game in the new stadium but we need extensions all the time, and the claim is dubious: the "club seats" don't count, and the upper level is never full. Also, they recognize they can't sell out certain games...so they require that single game ticket buyers also buy the shittier games. Wanna see the Niners? Gotta buy tickets to the Redskins. Wanna see the Seahawks? Gotta buy tickets to the Lions and Chiefs.
*** We have to be the only franchise in the last 30 years that has not drafted (or acquired) and developed a "franchise" quarterback. The "we caught lightning in a bottle" Kurt Warner era aside, the quarterback position for the Cardinals has been littered with busted draft picks, cast-offs, retreads, and punter-quarterback hybrids. (TOM TUPA TOM TUPA TOM TUPA. People in Baltimore bitch about Joe Flacco's contract, but we'd love to have that problem: knowing that the QB position isn't going to be an off-season (or hell, an in-season) issue for the next 5+ years.
*** We are still owned by the Bidwill family.
-Our team president happily sports the prison pussy facial hair look and acts like he worked his way up from jock washer to where he is today. Ya, has nothing to do with the fact that your bag of dicks dad is the owner.
-We have this drum line group that is supposed to entertain/pump up the crowd before the game. I would rather watch my parents in a porno than see these morons ever again.
-Every time we have a winning season, which is rare, the next season we epically shit the bed. Yet here is my dumbass again, all jazzed about our chances while trying to ignore the fact that our conference is stacked and we get to play Denver, San Diego, and Kansas City this year.
-Our stadium should be downtown and not in the spittoon disguised as a city, Glendale.
-Our fans are talking about being the first team is league history to host and play in the Super Bowl. I have a better chance of double teaming Kate Upton with a unicorn.
Normal sucking, I can take. Extraordinary sucking, I can enjoy. Whatever kind of sucking the Cardinals are is infuriating.
Fuck Aaron Francisco for fucking blowing that coverage.
Head Bee Guy:
I'm convinced that Leitch only cheers for this pathetic team to offset the public's hatred of St. Louis Cardinals fans. I'm on to you, Raisin Boy.
In a microcosm of the abuse and subsequent termination of their relationship with the City of Flagstaff, the Arizona Cardinals seem to make it a priority every year to sign some poor, try-hard, my-god-do-you-want-him-to-succeed guy from the NAU Lumberjacks in the offseason, put him through camps and preseason, gets his hopes up, and just as you think there's a sliver light at the end of the tunnel, unceremoniously cut him. This year's candidate? RB Zach Bauman.
You'd think, as an NAU sports fan and employee, this would become unwatchable season after season, but then you realize that this is a microcosm within a microcosm of the Arizona Cardinals franchise as a whole. "This is it! The hard-luck team that was resurrected by the grocery-bagging AFL quarterback-who-could is finally rising from the proverbial ashes, in the most fitting of ways; a Phoenix from Arizona! They ended 2013 on a tear, they've only just tapped into the potential of the Bruce Almighty offense, the defense is one of the best in the league, they beat Seattle IN THEIR HOUSE, and they've even got Logan Thomas! 10 wins last year? We can turn that into 11 or 12!" Not so bold prediction: 7 wins, and Bauman takes Warner's place at the grocery store.
There's nothing quite like going to a Cardinals game as a visiting fan... I mean it is literally one of the best experiences you'll ever have as a sports fan visiting another NFL city. I know for a fact that 9er fans take over when they're in town. It's literally a welcome mat for all other NFL teams and their fans. Go to a Cards game if you're a fan of any other NFL team, it's awesome!
Bruce Arians always looks confused and hungry.
Also, Kurt Warner has a little dick. I've seen it.
You're going to hear about fair weather, bandwagoning fans. You're going to hear about our racist ass state and hypocritical, xenophobic ruling party. You're going to hear about our awful ownership. You're going to hear about our horrible player development.
But to me, there is nothing worse than local expert and radio commentary guy Ron Wolfley. He looks like a shaved down version of the 'Fuck Her Right In the Pussy' guy, and is trying just as hard to make a saying happen that's never going to happen
If we so much as SNIFF the playoffs, we have to suffer through endless replays of his 'yahoo' scream when we made it to the Super Bowl. And he does local radio commercials for a sleep center, so when you're driving down the road, you have to imagine the horror of Ron Wolfley laying naked in bed in nothing but a CPAP mask.
FUCK Santonio Holmes.
No one in Arizona gave a shit about the Cards until Kurt Warner and Fitz magically carried the team to the Super Bowl in 2009. Before that, everyone in Phoenix was either a Cowboys fan, Bears fan, or a fan of some other Midwestern hell-hole since everyone here is from somewhere over there anyway.
Why the fuck do the Cards keep putting USC quarterbacks in the damn lineup?
This is the metropolitan area Richie Incognito picked to reside in.
Phoenix sports are the worst. Just look around at a game for any of the teams. People only go to the game to see their beloved <Insert east coast or midwest team>. Seriously I hear "let's go Yankees-Red Sox-Timberwolves-'6ers-Steelers-Bears" more than the home team. Games against the Buccaneers a couple of years ago were at least 70/30 – THE BUCCANEERS! We had more fans of theirs at our game then they have in their home stadium. It was a better home game for them! I'm sure most teams in the midwest celebrate when they see us on their schedule, "WE GET A BONUS GAME WHERE THE CROWD LOVES US!"
I fucking hate cheering for this team as much as I hate living in Phoenix – a city mocked by Bobby Hill of all (fictional) people.
The Cardinals are a good fit for this cesspool, though – it's a team as devoid of character and identify as the sprawling, beige, suburbs it calls home. They're not talented enough to be great, not crappy enough to hate, just constantly hanging in aggressive mediocrity. Some years they're better than others, but only once in a lifetime will they rise above being barely-memorable, and seeing as they already made the Super Bowl in my lifetime I may as well die now and spare myself the annual hope that this is their year (it's not).
They play in one of the nicest stadiums in the NFL and have one of the worst home field advantages in football. Their season ticket base is nothing but a bunch of assholes who sell their tickets to visiting fans every week. Each game you're guaranteed at least half the stadium is decked out in the other team's colors, and if the Cowboys, Niners, Rams, or Bears are in town the opposing fans outnumber Cardinals fans. Even most of the fans wearing Cardinals jerseys are just doing so until their "home" team comes to play, at which point they'll be waving their Terrible Towel or teetering beneath a foam Cheesehead that week before lending their tepid enthusiasm to the Cardinals the next week.
The Cardinals sold the naming rights of their stadium to University of Phoenix, because if there's one thing that gets you fired up for some football it's seeing the name of a failing corporation that's been downsizing for six years and has laid off thousands of workers in the Phoenix area, while graduating people swimming in student loan debt who can't get a decent job because no one takes their diploma mill degree seriously.
We wasted a draft pick on Virginia Tech QB Logan Thomas, who couldn't hit the broadside of a barn even if he were inside the goddamn barn.
Arizona is the cuckold fanbase. If you are ever wondering who we are playing just look in the crowd at all the road team jerseys. Even Leitch would agree. Ugh.
I've learned to accept the fact that they are pretty much the Jan Brady of NFL teams.
Bruce Arians looks like Piggy from Lord of the Flies.
They'll still find some way to shoot their wad down their own leg at some point and fuck it all up.
Does anyone actually hate the Arizona Cardinals? There may not be a worse feeling as a fan than proclaiming yourselves "bitter rivals" with a team that could care less about your existence. In the Sun Devil Stadium Cardinal days of the 1990s, Arizona Cardinals fans called the Cowboys their rivals while playing in the NFC East. The Cowboys may have literally had 10 other teams they considered bigger rivals than the Cardinals at the time. Making matters worse, the Cardinals lost 13 straight games to their "rivals" between 1990 and 1997.
Flash-forward to the past decade of air-conditioned games in the inconveniently located dump of a city they call Glendale, and history is repeating itself with the Cardinals. Take a poll of Cardinal fans today and you'll find that our rival now is the 49ers. Once again, the hate isn't reciprocated as we aren't even on 49ers fans radars, who are more concerned with the Seattle Seahawks or Oakland Raiders. Oh yeah, the Cardinals are currently 1-9 in the last 5 years against their "rivals."
The Cardinals first preseason game ticket featured John Abraham, who still hasn't shown up to camp! He will probably get suspended for the first 4 games due to his second DUI too. Great guy to put on a ticket.
The worst thing about the Cardinals isn't their history of being awful, but how anonymously and unimpressively awful they've always been. Remember that Jets game where Greg McElroy was named the player of the game after passing for 29 yards? The biggest stories out of that game were A) How terrible Mark Sanchez is, B) Where's Tebow, and C) Jets guy not saying Jets thing at Jets games anymore. What this is missing is that an actual NFL team started Ryan Lindley in an actual, sanctioned, professional football game. Bringing in Tim Tebow is a fun and exciting way to suck, starting the second best player from an alright San Diego State team, not so much.
I quite literally never saw a home game on TV until I moved to another state.
I don't understand how a team could double their win total from the previous season, finishing with 10 wins in a historically great division and still look like shit.
I own a Neil Rackers jersey because I am a contemptible human being.
PS. I just made the mistake of looking up Ryan Lindley and Greg McElroy on Google. McElroy recently announced his retirement and Lindley is still on the fucking Cardinals roster with an incredible 0:7 touchdown to interception ratio.
Good thing we built this stadium so we can battle with Miami and Dallas for the Super Bowl for the next 20 years, it will be the most competitive football related thing this state can produce.