Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians has only called Arizona home for just over eight months. It’s starting to show. Just take this quote from after the team’s loss to the Chargers in their third preseason game Saturday night in Glendale.
“That’s probably the dumbest 30 minutes of football I’ve ever seen,” Arians said. “The mistakes that we made, pre-snap penalties, tossing the ball back after we get a turnover. Ridiculous things that we did out there.”
Dumbest 30 minutes of football ever? If you have been a pigskin fan in Phoenix for any amount of time it wasn’t even the dumbest 30 minutes of football you’ve seen in the last calendar year. Remember the four-headed quarterback monster of Kolb, Skelton, Lindley and Hoyer?
Over the last 25-years there have been some pretty great mind-boggling moments which leave you more confused than a sea shell bikini on Lady Gaga on national television. It started with the complete collapse during their first season at Sun Devil Stadium when they started 7-4 and finished 7-9 thanks to an injury to starting quarterback Neil Lomax and snowballed from there.
A man best known as a punter, Tom Tupa, started some painful games. He could have easily saved the team field position if he had just dropped back and kicked it on first down. There was “Buddy Ball” where the only time there was “a winner in town” was when the Cowboys visited the Valley. Oh, and during that time a man who looked slow even when you fast forwarded film of him, quarterback Steve Bono, scored on a 76-yard naked bootleg.
In the late 1990s Jake Plummer was intercepted more than calls and emails are by the government. He even threw one behind the back, a move usually reserved for the basketball court and not the football field. In the 2000s Thomas Jones managed to get hit behind the line of scrimmage almost every play and broke his hand hitting a telephone off it. Denny Green’s version of the Cardinals were who we thought they’d be, yet another joke and Ken Whisenhunt, when not blessed by the presence of Kurt Warner, had more head-scratching decisions than casting Ben Affleck as Batman.
Then again, what do you expect from a team with three winning seasons since moving to the Valley?
There is hope, though. Arians’ quote shows he holds his team to a higher standard than some before him may have. He expects execution on every play, regardless of situation. He won’t accept anything less than smart football. If you don’t practice and play with the highest level of intelligence you will find your name on the ME (mental error) board in the locker room. A place that even the savviest of veterans have found themselves this preseason.
It’s that kind of all-encompassing discipline that could change the Cardinals fortune and force changes in habits that have somehow permeated the franchise for 25-years regardless of coach, general manager or players like sweat and body odor through a high school locker room. As the old saying goings, it’s not practice that makes perfect but perfect practice that makes perfect. Arians understands that and is demanding it of his new flock. If he can get it, Saturday may actually turn out to be the dumbest 30 minutes of football he has or will ever see. If he doesn’t, well, he’s in for a “treat” we, as Cards fans all experienced for a quarter of a century.