It’s reasonable to expect that the national perspective of the Arizona Cardinals doesn’t match that of the local.
Here in Arizona, fans believe the Cardinals are likely to make the playoffs should they remain healthy.
Outsiders aren’t so optimistic.
ESPN NFL Insider Mike Sando dropped by the Doug and Wolf show on Arizona Sports 98.7 Thursday morning and discussed the league-wide perception of head coach Bruce Arians’ team.
“Last year and this year, people wonder how Arizona’s going to win 10 games again,” Sando said. “It’s not a shot at Arizona, it’s a compliment on how well they’ve done, in terms of the GM filling out the roster and the coach getting the most out of them.”
Sando said he often asks NFL coaches and front office members what teams that make the playoffs the previous season will miss them the coming year — and vice versa. Many that he’s heard from heading into 2015 are skeptical about Arizona’s postseason chances.
“If you said (to GMs),’hey, if you could take over any roster in this division?’ I’d say a year ago everyone would say Seattle, and now you have some people saying St. Louis and you don’t have people saying Arizona,” Sando said. “Maybe people are just vastly underrating Arizona this year. Maybe Arizona has just done a great job of exceeding expectations through fantastic coaching on the team.”
Of course, much of the split speculation about the Cardinals’ success this coming season has to do with how commentators think quarterback Carson Palmer will hold up health-wise. Arizona’s success to begin last year can be attributed to the quarterback, and Sando believes the perception of the Cardinals — and Palmer as a top-10 quarterback — would be different had Palmer not gotten hurt.
Maybe that’s a good argument that those in Arizona (or those with the higher expectations for the Cardinals this season) are closer to reality than those who don’t understand why they won 11 games in 2014.
Sando, for one, wouldn’t be surprised for the Cardinals to win a lot this season — especially if Palmer stays on the field.
“I was there at Cardinals camp in the first day of team drills,” Sando said. “(Palmer) looked like regular season form. Preseason games, he looks like a man on a mission.”