No complaints: Cardinals’ James Conner excited to ‘prove people wrong’ with new regime
Jun 3, 2023, 9:58 AM
(Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports)
The adversity surrounding the Arizona Cardinals is very real in 2023.
With a new coaching staff, a still injured starting quarterback and numerous unknowns on both sides of the football, it’s not hard to see why many are pegging the Cardinals to finish near or at the bottom of the NFL barrel.
Toss in Arizona’s dismal 2022 showing that resulted in a 4-13 finish and it’s even more clear.
But as Cardinals running back James Conner put it Thursday, “the past is the past and that’s the beautiful thing about it.”
While outside expectations are among the lowest they have been in Arizona’s history of a franchise, the seven-year vet isn’t about to be tied down by external negatives.
If the Cardinals want to claw their way out of the dungeon, it’s on them to change the narrative, not be a part of it.
“It means everything (to be a part of building the foundation),” Conner said Thursday. “I love this team, I love the pieces we added. We got a whole new staff. I haven’t found one thing to complain about. I’m just really excited to be a part of this. I love this team, love this city and just excited to do something special this year. Nobody believes in us but that’s OK. … That’s the exciting part, to prove people wrong.”
“I just love the possibilities of what this could be, the pieces we have just playing as one,” he added. “That’s one thing I love about it is our message is playing as one. That’s unselfish football, being detail-oriented and just making the right plays routinely when they come up.”
“I haven’t found one thing to complain about,” #AZCardinals RB James Conner on the new regime in Arizona and what it’s all about.
— Tyler Drake (@Tdrake4sports) June 1, 2023
Since arriving to the NFL in 2017 as a third-round draft pick of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Conner hasn’t really been a part of a full-blown rebuild. Working under head coach Mike Tomlin for the first four years of his career, Conner never saw a losing record in Pittsburgh, finishing no less than second in the bruising AFC North.
His first two seasons with the Cardinals weren’t classified as rebuilds, either, with Arizona posting double-digit wins in 2021 before absolutely falling from grace last season led to massive organizational changes.
For some — especially aging running backs — signing up for any sort of rebuild, revamp or whatever you want to call it is far from appealing.
There are only so many seasons left in a veteran’s career.
But much like his thinking on not getting stuck in the past, Conner isn’t about to get too far ahead into the future.
“I’m just where my feet are, that’s where God put me,” Conner said. “Any time you get to play football, that’s a blessing. I’m not really counting the years, just making the most of every day. Just talking to our vets and talking to guys who’s retired just saying how fast it goes by. Rebuild, whatever you want to call it, we got football ahead of us and that’s exciting.”
The Cardinals projecting a run-happy offense doesn’t hurt, either.
With Murray still on the shelf and without a concrete timeline for a return offensive coordinator Drew Petzing’s ties to a run-heavy Cleveland Browns squad, utilizing the run game is going to be that much more important to coordinator Drew Petzing’s offense.
A team-first mentality and a boatload of touches? It certainly could be a whole worse for a veteran running back, as we all saw last year.