The term ‘culture change’ gets thrown around a lot in the world of professional sports.
The Arizona Cardinals are going through one of those changes right now.
After a two-year span in which the Cardinals won four playoff games and played in the Super Bowl for the first time in franchise history, the boys in red and white have gone 18-30, including a putrid 5-11 mark in 2012.
There were sweeping changes: General Manager Rod Graves was fired and replaced by Steve Keim; Ken Whisenhunt and nearly his entire coaching staff was let go, and reigning NFL Coach of the Year Bruce Arians took over; the roster underwent a huge facelift as well.
The individuals who can best recognize true culture change are the ones who were present during the previous regime. Defensive lineman Darnell Dockett fits that bill.
Dockett is entering his 10th season with the Cardinals, and said he truly appreciates the change that’s happening — especially the signing of free agent pass rusher John Abraham.
“I applaud Steve Keim and Mr. Bidwill for going out and getting some pieces for us to compete in the NFC West, and Abraham is going to bring a lot of energy and a lot of passion to the game,” Dockett said. “I’m glad that they went out and got him. In the past times, it’s been hard to get certain big-name free agents in, but this is a change of the culture. I’m happy my coach went out and made that move.”
Dockett was critical of past defensive coordinator Ray Horton’s scheme, which was designed to let others make plays while Dockett would just “occupy” offensive lineman. He finished 2012 with just 1.5 quarterback sacks. The former Florida State Seminole believes Abraham’s presence will help him be more productive.
“Absolutely, that’s the big thing,” Dockett said. “He’s going to open it up for everybody. It’s not about me; it’s about using what he does best to help our team win — that’s what it’s about at the end of the day.”