Upbeat Cardinals Empty Nest, Head To Off-Season

What started in the training camp Phoenix-heat of August ended abruptly on a chilly winter night in Charlotte.

Time ran out on the Arizona Cardinals Sunday as they were steamrolled by the Carolina Panthers 49-15 in the NFC Championship game. The loss ends an otherwise wildly successful season for the newly crowned NFC West champions.

Monday reality hit quickly as the players packed up their belongings and officially met with the media one final time.

“Unless the confetti’s coming down on ‘ya and you’re putting rings on the season’s not successful,” head coach Bruce Arians said Monday afternoon. “With that being said, there were a lot of good things that happened this year. Goals that were met. Big plays. Big, big games.”

Although their season fell two post-season wins short of the ultimate destination the 2015 Arizona Cardinals helped further cement themselves as a league-wide, Super Bowl-caliber team.

“We did a lot that changed the culture as far as our winning ways,” cornerback Jerraud Powers said in front of his locker. “The expectations are high now when it comes to this football team. We wanted to set the bar the way it is now.”

General manager Steve Keim and Arians already started discussing “need areas” on the late-night flight home after the loss. The franchise feels the blueprint for next fall is already in place.

“They’ve put together a great team,” quarterback Carson Palmer said of the Cards’ management. “You don’t get to be 13-3 with a bunch of slouches. There’s great players. There’s great coaching…the foundation is definitely here.”

All signs point to the Red Sea rising again in 2016.