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Why Dennis Green Now Deserves Respect

Green Deserves Some Respect

Green Deserves Some Respect

As the Arizona Cardinals prepare to host a playoff game, one man seems to be forgotten–Dennis Green.

Green was hired in January of 2004 and fired in January of 2007.  But during his tenure in Arizona, Green helped to build the team that is now one step away from the Superbowl.

Green came on board in January of 2004.   In early 2005, the Cardinals signed Kurt Warner to a one year deal, before signing a three year extension on February 14th, 2006.  And though prior to this season Warner had had an up and down career in Arizona, the Cardinals brass always knew that they had a competent quarterback on their bench.  And it certainly shows now.

In Green’s first season in Arizona, though he knew he had an incredible receiver in Anquan Boldin, Green’s first selection was used on WR Larry Fitzgerald.  Green had a personal relationship with Fitzgerald, as he was a ball boy in Minnesota when Green coached the Vikings.

In the second round and third rounds, the Cardinals picked up Karlos Dansby and Darnell Dockett.

The 2005 draft saw the Cardinals pick up Antrelle Rolle, who is now paying dividends.  And in 2006, the Cardinals signed Colts running back Edgerrin James in free agency.  Though James has not been effective prior to this late season run, it goes to show that James still has gas in the tank and was indeed a good pickup by the Cardinals.

This isn’t to say that current head coach Ken Wisenhunt hasn’t done a good job–he has.  He has helped to reform a losing culture in Arizona.  And certainly, quarterback Matt Leinart hasn’t worked out just yet, but there’s no doubt that Dennis Green needs some appreciation for what’s happening in Arizona.  He helped stock that team with talent–we certainly know he has an eye for talent from his days in Minnesota.  Though he’ll always be famous for his rant after the Sunday Night loss to the Chicago Bears in 2006, Green deserves to get some due respect for the Cardinals’ ability to turn around their 2008 season.

January 15, 2009 Posted by | NFL | , , , , | Leave a comment

The Cardinals and NFL Parity are Alive and Well

With Arizona’s big win over the Carolina Panthers on Saturday night, one thing was clear as day to me.  Parity is alive and well in the NFL–and that’s both a good and bad thing.

Cardinals Equal NFL Parity

Cardinals Equal NFL Parity

First, let’s start with the good.  The Cardinals are a team that hadn’t hosted a home playoff game since, quite literally, Harry Truman was President–in 1947.  Arizona was mired in the muck of a suffocating losing culture.  The Cards–who were everyone’s “surprise/breakout team” for the past five years–continously found ways to disappoint and live far below expectations.

The idea that the Cardinals can turn that negativity into inspiration and take the entire league by storm is an immense accomplishment.  When the Cardinals didn’t take Terrell Suggs, people laughed.  When Matt Leinart seemingly struggled in Arizona, people moaned.  And when Edgerrin James appeared to be starting his retirement early, fans were filled with apathy.  But now, the Cardinals–who have never sniffed a Superbowl title–are now just one game away from playing in one.  That is the power of the NFL, and that’s why we love this game.  An underdog can become top dog with hard work and preparation.

But there’s a downside.  A big one.  While it’s great to see a team like Arizona go from rags to riches–what does that say about the rest of the league?  Afterall, the Cardinals only won nine games this season.  Contrast that to the Titans–who won thirteen–and were bounced out of the playoffs after just one game.

Let’s also not forget how the Cardinals finished the year.  They lost four of their last six games–their two wins coming against the Rams and the Seahawks; their losses all coming against playoff teams (except the Patriots, who should’ve went to the playoffs with an 11-5 record).

So how does a nine win team go into Carolina–a team that was undefeated at home–and make the Panthers look like an expansion team?  Well, certainly film study helped a lot.  It was clear that the defensive backs of Arizona were reading Jake Delhomme and properly jumping the routes of the receivers.  Arizona, over the past few games, has also developed a running attack which has served them well in the absence of Anquan Boldin.

And while the famous words of “any given Sunday” are always relevant–this wasn’t supposed to happen.  While no team “deserves” anything, based upon the way the Cardinals played in the regular season, do they “deserve” to be in the NFC Championship game?  This is the same team that benefited tremendously from a weak NFC West division.

Unlike the 2001 New England Patriots who were a genuine Cinderella story–starting quarterback Drew Bledose goes down, Tom Brady steps in, and the team doesn’t miss a beat–the Cardinals weren’t a strong team throughout the season.  In 2001, the New England Patriots took a team with zero star quality and simply out played and outcoached their competition each week.  And while they were disrespected every week and never given a chance all the way to the Superbowl, you never got the sense that the Patriots didn’t earn their right to be there.  One has to wonder this with the Cardinals.  Aside from two wonderful playoff games, have they earned their way into the NFC Championship game?

And therein lies the issue with parity.  It’s wonderful because it allows competition in every division and at every position.  It’s not so wonderful, though, because the difference between the great teams and the okay teams is quite negligible, and, unlike in decades past, a team of perrenial losers can beat a team destined for the Superbowl.

January 12, 2009 Posted by | NFL | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment