As a nine-year veteran, Arizona Cardinals defensive tackle Darnell Dockett has experienced just about all the highs and lows one can have in an NFL career.
He’s reached a Super Bowl (2008), won back-to-back division titles (2008 and 2009), played on last-place teams (2006, 2010 and 2012) and also suffered through campaigns where 8-8 just wasn’t good enough (2007 and 2011).
So while the preseason talk has centered on the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks being favorites not only in the NFC West but in the conference, as well, count Dockett among those more than content to play second-fiddle in the headlines this time of year.
“You always want to be in that position,” Dockett said of the Cardinals being considered underdogs in the division. “When you’re sitting at the top everybody is coming with their best, trying to tee off on you. Sometimes it’s good to be at the top, sometimes it’s not.”
The Cardinals are certainly not sitting ‘at the top’ heading into the 2013 season, nor should they be. Losers of 10 of their last 11 games to close out the 2012 season, Arizona is in the midst of establishing a new identity under new head coach Bruce Arians and new general manager Steve Keim.
But regardless of what transpired in the offseason, Dockett noted that predictions hold little weight when it comes time for the regular season to start, because they are just that, predictions.
“I look at it like nobody is on top,” said Dockett. “The records are 0-0. Everybody has to go out and play 16 games. We’re just trying to focus on ourselves and getting better as individuals, as coaches, as a team and as one unit.
“I’m not worried about finishing in last place last year, because there’s a lot of change. There’s a lot of new teammates, a new coach, a new general manager. There’s a lot of excitement. Our focus is on getting the Cardinals better.”
Just as preseason predictions mean little when the regular season gets underway, so too do preseason records. While the Cardinals have started 2-0 in the exhibition portion of their schedule, there’s another number that should be the source of some optimism as they look to improve.
Ten — as in the number of straight seasons a last-place team has gone on to make it to the postseason the following year.