Some people are fans of the Arizona Cardinals. But many, many more people are NOT fans of the Arizona Cardinals. This 2021 Defector NFL team preview is for those in the latter group. Read all the previews so far here.
Your team: Arizona Cardinals. LOOK OUT BEHIND YOU!
Your 2020 record: 8-8. Here’s a team that found themselves at 6-3 after a miracle win against a team that would eventually make the AFC title game. It was right then where I was like I TOLD YOU THE CARDS WOULD BE A FORCE! THEY’RE WINNING THAT DIVISION AS SURE AS I FUCK MY SHEETS EVERY MORNING!
They did not win their division. In fact, the Cardinals would go on to lose five of their final seven games to finish third in the West and cede the final playoff spot to … the Bears. To Matt Nagy. To Mitch Trubisky. To all that.
It gets even grimmer. The Cardinals only beat two teams with a winning record, and one of those wins came thanks to the aforementioned miracle. Their kicker blew three endgame kicks in five games. They gave up 365 combined rushing yards to Seattle in two games. They were swept by the Rams in the final month of the season and watched them get the 6 seed in the NFC. They lost in Week 16 to a DOA Niners team and let C.J. Beathard throw three touchdowns against them in that game, with NO picks. How the fuck you let C.J. Beathard do that to you in the regular season? The only time C.J. Beathard should be putting up those numbers is in the final preseason game, with Steve Spurrier coaching him.
Oh hey, did I just mention Steve Spurrier?
Your coach: Kliff Kingsbury, who’ll end his NFL career known primarily as the guy with the house. Remember the house? When all the NFL media guys were swooning because Kliff had a kourtyard? This house has another house behind it, they all cried out in ecstasy. And it’s got a WATER FEATURE! Well, that fully functioning babe lair is all there is to the Kliff Kingsbury experience. He can’t actually coach. The Hail Mary against Buffalo was one of the worst plays ever designed and only ended up succeeding because Kyler Murray evaded 58 different oncoming pass rushers and DeAndre Hopkins outleapt the secondary like he was reaching for an antivax educational pamphlet. Coaching had nothing to do with that play’s success, nor with any of the Cardinals’ recent good fortune, really. Anything this team accomplishes with Kliff in kharge will be despite him, not because of him.
Kingsbury gets a pass from heavy scrutiny because he’s only 42, and we’re still in the midst of era where any young and vaguely handsome NFL head coach gets treated like he graduated from medical school at age 14. But not every young coach gets to be a prodigy (ask the Bengals). And you already know that every big college coaching name that jumps to the NFL has a big ol’ FRAUD sign hanging from his neck from the moment he first walks into the building. Kingsbury started with the baller house, and he’s gonna end like this:
Kingsbury doesn’t look like your standard 58-year-old rage addict of an NFL coach, but he may as well. I’ve watched him manage the clock. For the next few years everyone is gonna wonder why this team always underachieves. Look no further.
Do they have a Guy on the coaching staff? So many guys! Steve Heiden is your tight ends coach! Remember that Guy? And holy shit, there’s Shawn Jefferson! You talk about a Guy! Former Chargers wideouts make for incredible Guys when they haven’t suddenly died!
Your quarterback: Beloved electrodwarf Kyler Murray. True story: At the end of the Buffalo game, I watched DeAndre Hopkins come down with the ball and I thought to myself, “That’s the greatest Hail Mary I’ve ever seen. That play is gonna get a name, it’s so monumental. Oh you know what I’ll call it? I’ll call it the HAIL KYLER. That’ll catch on!”
OK, that’s enough fun at my expense. Back to the little guy, who only threw 10 touchdowns in the back half of last season and isn’t exactly the model of consistency. With Kyler, you either get a prayer answered downfield OR you get a dumpoff pass that looks 50 percent more athletic than if Alex Smith threw it. All the shit in between? Murray’s useless. He ranked 25th in intermediate throws last season after ranking DFL there in 2019. At that rate of improvement, we’re just two years away from Murray being able to hit a 10-yard out with professional regularity. WHOOP DEE FUCKING DO. For every dazzling play Murray makes with his arm or feet, there are a dozen more where he runs around for five seconds before launching the ball at the chain gang’s feet. He’ll never be as good as everyone wants him to be.
Also, we’re quickly nearing the Catastrophic Injury Phase of Murray’s progression. When our man dislocates his lollipop guild in Week 4, your backup is the immortal Colt McCoy. Have fun with that.
What’s new that sucks: Et tu, DeAndre?
I guess he really DOES like to catch everything. You know, I expect this sort of thing from Kirk Cousins. Kirk Cousins was born to be an idiot. But you, DeAndre? Well now I’m just sad.
Meanwhile, the Cards spent this offseason cosplaying as the Rams and loading up for One Last Shot before trading all their 2022 draft picks for another One Last Shot. AJ Green and JJ Watt are here to lend real star power to the team’s weekly injury report. They signed Steelers backfield fraud James Conner to split carries with Chase Edmonds and traded a third rounder to Vegas for center Rodney Hudson. None of that will ultimately matter, because this team can’t run the ball for shit and their head coach isn’t all that interested in ever trying. The only time the Cardinals run block effectively is when Murray takes off, because then his line doesn’t even know they’re run blocking.
The Cardinals also signed corner Malcolm Butler away from the Titans. Do you know why Butler was benched before that Super Bowl loss to the Eagles? Because he slipped a boysenberry into Tom Brady’s drink, that’s why. Mystery solved.
Larry Fitzgerald and Patrick Peterson are gone. Chandler Jones is unhappy. Aren’t we all.
What has always sucked: The Cardinals are the oldest franchise in the NFL, which only sounds impressive until you remember that they’re 200 games under .500 in their lifetime. This franchise was conceived in suck and has remained there over the span of 101 long, pointless years. They are the Sacramento Kings. They are the Buffalo Sabres. They are the Texas Rangers. Someone has to be that team in every league, and the Cardinals are very much that team. This has always been God’s plan for them. You may get occasional bright spots like Kurt Warner’s re-rebirth, or Larry Fitzgerald’s career, or Murray playing Big Boy football for two plays every quarter, but that’s all you’ll get. This team is a desert. Lifeless. Lightless. Airless. Also, the cornerbacks are garbage and they’ll never have a good tight end.
Ratto says: Always the team on the come that never seems to arrive. Has all the pieces and the puzzle is never solved. Looks the part but can’t play it. They’ve had the same ridiculous helmets since 1957, three cities ago. Makes them all look like they have hydrocephaly. BEST NAME TO HEAR ON TV: Chris Banjo.
What might not suck: I bet JJ Watt raises a lot of money for Maricopa County when the Bidwill family dumps a bunch of radium into the Arizona Canal. So that’ll be a heartwarming moment.
HEAR IT FROM CARDINALS FANS!
Another season of Dimestore Gosling calling naked bootlegs while his QB has one leg dangling behind him. #Innovative
When you make a Pro Bowl, you guarantee yourself a lucrative Cardinals contract seven years down the line.
Our QB cannot see his receivers downfield or between the hashes because he’s the size of my five-year-old.
Being from the UK, I had a free choice when it came to my NFL team. A combination of liking the colour red, having pet birds and being a weird kid led me to be a Cardinals fan.
In the 32 years I’ve been a fan, there’s been more seasons where they won four games or fewer (seven) than winning seasons (six).
The shit-eating GM refuses to commit to anything or anyone useful unless it’s signing 2015’s best free agent class in 2021.
I made the finals of my 2011 fantasy league, with a couple hundred dollars at stake. My QB options were Matt Flynn and John Skelton. Guess which one I chose.
One of the best wide receivers this trash fire of a team has ever had got infected by brain worms and now is thinking that he’d rather retire than get vaccinated.
The best period in Cardinals history is a footnote in Kurt Warner’s career.
The only reason we aren’t catching more shit for completely falling apart last season is because the Houston Texans got tricked into standing next to us.
On the plus side, no team is more representative of its surrounding population. Most of the people both on the Cardinals and in Arizona peaked years ago and probably shouldn’t be around anymore.
I don’t care that Kliff’s playbook is longer than Infinite Jest and about as dense. It doesn’t matter who we signed this year, if we’re still running plays ripped from Abilene Christian, the best we can do is 8-8.
Why do we do this, Drew. Every year with this shit just to watch Tom Brady win another ring. Fuck this team. Fuck me and the other five people who sent you responses for the Cardinals for giving them any attention at all.
Highlights from last season include:
Lost a game to Matt Patricia
Never beat the Rams
Started with a 5-2 record, only to finish 3-6 and miss the playoffs (two of those losses were to CJ Beathard and John Wolford)
Made Tua Tagovailoa and Jalen Hurts look like offensive rookie of the year contenders (both QBs were benched as soon as they played real NFL teams)
And let’s not forget my personal favorite: down 11 with 5 minutes to go in a must-win game, offensive wunderkind Kingsbury calls this play for an injured QB on 3rd and 18
I’m not exactly going out on a fucking limb when I say that 2021 will mark the end of the Kliff Kingsbury experiment in Arizona. This is only his third year on the job, but this shitty franchise has never had a head coach last longer than 6 years in the desert.
When I complain about this team people tell me, “At least you have Kyler Murray”, but for every SportsCenter highlight of Kyler Murray, there are 10 plays where his pass is knocked down at the line of scrimmage, or he scrambles for his life and runs out of bounds for negative yardage. He’ll be playing baseball after his rookie contract expires.
Our former All-Pro DE Chandler Jones has demanded a trade, and all the Trump-loving yokels from the Phoenix exurbs couldn’t care less because they already bought a JJ Watt jersey to wear over their three-percenter t-shirts on game days. They’ll be screaming their melanoma-raddled heads off for both sacks Watt gets over the six games he’s healthy for this year.
Patrick Peterson and all his pass interference penalties are the Vikings’ problem now, but our fat fuck GM couldn’t be bothered to replace him. Now we have a guy who hasn’t played in two seasons as a starting CB backed up by a bunch of guys taken on Day 3 of this year’s draft. Fucking kill me.
Deandre Hopkins has threatened to retire rather than get the COVID vaccine, making him just another moron antivaxxer in a city full of the dumbest and most selfish people in the country. Arizona is Florida without the beaches or theme parks. Everything good you can say about Phoenix begins and ends with, “It doesn’t snow!” Sure, AZ Republicans are (still!) actively trying to rig the election and subverting the will of the voters, the state is on fire, water supplies are drying up, air quality is plummeting, heat records are shattered every year, and nighttime temps are over 90 degrees all summer, but “Durrrrrrr, the only salt I need is for mah margarita!” Fuck this state and fuck every neckbeard military cosplayer here that slaps a “Don’t Tread On Me!” sticker on their pickup while unironically serving as their HOA president.
Fuck Chris Streveler with a sloppy moose dick.
Bill O’Brien is the best GM in team history.
Our opponents consistently march seven+ minutes on their way to score on our bend-but-don’t-break defense, so the number of 3-and-outs we’re subjected to is limited. Unfortunately, because the opposition holds the ball for so long, we’re rarely blown out. This inevitably gives everyone false hope that we’re THIS close to turning things around so everybody keeps their jobs for another season of mediocrity. Fuck this team.
In the before-times, being a fan of the NFL was morally conflicting at best. I’ve read Deadspin (RIP) religiously for years so I’m fully educated on why my fandom is problematic. From the labor disputes between billionaire owners and the players, the shameless graft to build stadium monstrosities, the players slowly killing themselves on the field, and the somehow even more evil NCAA that this system props up, I am complicit because I watch the games. If that was the whole story, I’d simply walk away and find something more constructive to do. But I can’t.
You know why the Arizona Cardinals fucking suck? This is arguably the most exciting team in the NFL right now. Kyler is going to throw 60 times per game and have a breakout year, we picked up one of the best wideouts in the game for pennies, and we have a creative coach ready to apply the lessons learned from last year and hopefully do something spectacular. The sky is the limit. How can I leave now?
This team has made me a hypocrite. I feel very strongly about all of the issues I mentioned, and I’m going to suck it up and root for these Red Shitbirds anyways.
I tried explaining my moral conundrum to my girlfriend (who is not a football fan), looking for understanding, and all I got back was confused repugnance and a promise to shame me every time it comes up. Which I deserve. I encouraged my fantasy league to donate to BLM and related causes instead of collecting league fees, which I thought was a great idea, but at the heart of it I’m just offsetting something I know is unethical. My girlfriend’s response: “Why can’t you donate to those things WITHOUT watching the NFL?”
I don’t know, Drew. Why can’t I?
Submissions for the Defector NFL previews are closed. Next up: Las Vegas Raiders.