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Declaring independence: What Arizona's teams would like to move on from

July 4 is a day where we in America gather around pools and barbecues with our friends and family to celebrate our nation's freedom.

Because it was on this day in 1776 that the Declaration of Independence was adopted by the Continental Congress, signaling what would ultimately become the end of Britain's rule.

Quite simply, it led to the United States of America.

That's serious business, and we're glad it happened.

But in thinking of freedom, what might Arizona's sports teams like to be free from?

Here are some ideas:

Arizona Cardinals: The NFC West

It's arguably more oppressive than England was back in the day.

The NFC West, quite simply, is ridiculously good. You have the defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks, the NFC runner-up San Francisco 49ers and the defensively loaded St. Louis Rams.

Then there's the Cardinals, who won 10 games last season and missed the playoffs. They may be even better this season, but few believe they're destined for the postseason.

If only they could play in, we don't know, the AFC South or NFC East, perhaps they'd have a better chance.

Phoenix Suns: Stigma of the past

For all intents and purposes, the Phoenix Suns should be a prime destination for top-tier talent.

They have a bright young general manager and a coach who knows what he's doing. The roster is filled with talented players and the team has plenty of cap space and draft picks at its disposal to help improve on last year's 48-win campaign.

Yet, it seems as though the league's top free agents are reluctant to view Phoenix as a viable destination for their services. Why is that?

Perhaps the stigma of the post-Stoudemire years, where the Suns languished in mediocrity before finally hitting rock bottom in 2012-13 hurt their reputation. Or maybe it goes all the way back to the Seven Seconds or Less days when the team pawned off draft picks and appeared to be sacrificing winning as long as it helped owner Robert Sarver turn a profit.

Whatever the reason, there is really no reason for the Suns not to be a major player when it comes to acquiring major players.

If only the players realized it.

Arizona Diamondbacks: Injuries

Plenty has gone wrong for the Arizona Diamondbacks, and much of it would appear to be their own doing.

But you can't really blame them for bad health.

Preseason injuries to Patrick Corbin and David Hernandez set the team back, and in-season injuries to Mark Trumbo, A.J. Pollock and Bronson Arroyo haven't helped. In a way, it's somewhat understandable that the season has gone as south as it has.

Now, no one is saying a healthy Diamondbacks team would be contending in the NL West, but having everyone on board would have certainly improved their chances.

Arizona Coyotes: Financial hardship

It was supposed to be a thing of the past, but it appears the change, while happening, is going to come along at a pretty slow pace.

The Arizona Coyotes may have a new name and stable ownership, but they're not quite ready to become a free spending squad that will add big-name free agents and talent.

It's understandable, but frustrating.

Since reaching the Western Conference Finals in 2012, the Coyotes have missed the playoffs in back-to-back seasons, and at some point they need to get back. As the rest of the Western Conference seems to improve in free agency, the Coyotes have been relegated to smaller moves that may be beneficial, but certainly don't make much of a splash.

Phoenix Mercury: Nothing

The Phoenix Mercury have the best record in the WNBA at 12-3. Diana Taurasi is having a fantastic season, while Brittney Griner, Candice Dupree and DeWanna Bonner are playing well, too. Add in Penny Taylor, and this is a team that could very easily win a championship.

So they're good.

Arizona Rattlers: Late-June trips to San Jose

Last season, the Rattlers had won nine games in a row before visiting the SaberCats and losing 72-42 on June 22.

This season, they had reeled off a perfect 14-0 record to start the season before falling 62-33 on June 27. The loss also snapped an 18-game winning streak dating back to last season.

While last year's loss didn't prevent the Rattlers from winning their second straight ArenaBowl title and this year's may ultimately be a small speedbump on the way to another championship, it would still be nice if the team could get its visit to San Jose out of the way a bit earlier in the season.

Arizona State Sun Devils: Todd Graham jokes

It was easy to poke fun at the way the coach left Pitt after just one season. But it has to stop.

Graham has done an outstanding job with the Sun Devils, bringing discipline to a program that needed it and wins to a fanbase that demands it.

Last season, ASU won 10 games and the Pac-12 South, which led to the Devils hosting Stanford in the Pac-12 Championship Game.

If there were any questions about Graham's ability to coach, those should have been answered by now. And if there were any questions about his personality or desire to stay in Tempe, those too should have been answered by now.

Arizona Wildcats: Quarterback uncertainty

When the Arizona Wildcats take the field this season, they will have their fourth different starting quarterback in four seasons.

The last Arizona passer to be the starter in back-to-back seasons was Nick Foles, who left for the NFL after the 2011 season and has become a star.

Senior Matt Scott replaced him in 2012, and then senior B.J. Denker took over for Scott in 2013.

Who will be under center in 2014? Well, let's just say there are quite a few candidates.

Senior Jesse Scroggins may be the leader right now, but if he earns (and keeps) the job, Arizona will be right back in this same situation again next summer.

In a perfect world, one of either Anu Solomon, Connor Brewer or Jerrard Randall will win the job this season, thereby giving head coach Rich Rodriguez something he has not yet had in the Old Pueblo: consistency at the most important position on the field.

About the Author

School: University of Arizona

When you started with Bonneville Phoenix: Fall 2008, right before Cardinals Super Bowl run

Favorite sports memory: Being at Game 7 of the 2001 World Series with my dad

Favorite all-time athlete: Larry Centers

Favorite sports movies: The Sandlot, Rookie of the Year, Jerry Maguire

Most crushing sports moment: Grew up in Arizona and went to UA from 2002-06. In short, there are too many to name just one.


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