Let’s go back in time exactly one year.
On December 9, 2012, the Arizona Cardinals suffered the worst loss in team history by losing to the Seattle Seahawks 58-0 at Century Link Field.
The Cardinals committed eight turnovers in their ninth consecutive loss.
Both that game and that losing streak contributed to sweeping changes in the organization that included the hiring of Steve Keim as the team’s general manager and Bruce Arians as the new head coach.
Just 365 days later, the Cardinals are in a much different place. Following Sunday’s 30-10 trouncing of the St. Louis Rams, Arizona is 8-5 and very much in the thick of the NFC playoff picture.
So what is the difference with this year’s team?
“I think it’s an air of confidence, I think it’s instilling the right mentality in your locker room,” Keim told Doug and Wolf on Arizona Sports 620 Monday morning. “I walked through the locker room at 6:00 a.m. this morning and John Abraham was sitting in his locker like a 22-year-old rookie waiting to work out. This is a guy who’s 35 years old coming off three sacks (against St. Louis.)
“To me, when you put those type of players and people in your locker room, just the confidence it instills, not only in the vets, but the young players, it’s just infectious throughout your organization.”
Abraham has been outstanding of late, registering 11 quarterback sacks in his last six games. He, along with two other offseason acquisitions — linebacker Karlos Dansby and quarterback Carson Palmer — had their fingerprints all over the victory over the Rams.
“In many aspects, they all seem like they found, to some degree, the fountain of youth,” Keim said. “From a philosophical standpoint, when you’re a personnel guy, your mindset is always to get younger, faster, more athletic. But in those instances, when you can find players that have a great pedigree and have great intangibles like these three do, and they stepped up, so you have to feel really good for those three players to be able to play so well for us this year and make the kind of contributions they have.”
Bringing in players like Palmer, Abraham and Dansby was all part of an organizational construction project, according to Keim.
“It starts with Michael Bidwill, and obviously Bruce Arians has done a great job,” he said. “We just have a lot of passionate, hungry people around here who wanted to change the culture.
“We still have our work cut out for us, and we have a lot of big decisions to make this offseason, but at least I feel pretty confident that we’re heading in the right direction.”