In 2011, the Buzzsaw finished 8-8. On the surface, that’s not a particularly impressive record, though it becomes somewhat more so when you realize that John Skelton started nearly half of their games. Arizona handed San Francisco one of its three regular season losses. The Cards also lost to the Vikings by 24 points. So, pretty mixed bag altogether. The team won seven of its final nine, which is nice, but also probably one of those misleading surges that teams with nothing to play for tend to have late in seasons, only to revert to being awful the next year after cruelly building hope for fans. In the off-season, the team was an also-ran in the Peyton Manning free agency sweepstakes. They’ll stick it out for the time being with Kevin Kolb, whose most notable attribute is that fans find him an enjoyable target for unyielding scorn.
Five Fast Facts About The Cardinals:
– Russ Grimm has been known to hide silverfish in his mustache.
– With Clark Haggans and Vonnie Holliday, the Buzzsaw boast two of the most average players of all-time on their roster. Fitting for an 8-8 team.
– Calais Campbell gives names to his flatulence, like the weather service does with hurricanes or tropical storms. He has said cryptically that the one that gets Calais will be his last.
– Last week, the team gave a five-year contract extension to Adrian Wilson. He was glad to have it.
– Patrick Peterson tied the single-season record for punt return touchdowns. Peter King still thinks LSU should have used him in that capacity, unless they did.
Key acquisitions: Michael Floyd, Adam Snyder, William Gay
Key departures: Richard Marshall, Joey Porter
Vegas win total over/under: 6.5 wins
KSK verdict: OVER
Fantasy player you’ll want to dig at with rusty hooks: Beanie Wells
After two seasons of utter uselessness, Beanie Wells put up 1,000 yards rushing and scored 10 touchdowns in 2011. However, he was slowed significantly in the final month of the season by a knee injury that eventually required surgery. A surgery that he has yet to fully recover from as training camp gets underway. The Cardinals also spent all of last season without running back and second-round pick Ryan Williams, who suffered a season-ending injury in the preseason. Ken Whisenhunt has said he prefers to split carries between backs, so if Williams is back, your continued suspicion of Beanie will be well founded.
Fanboy forecast — Deadspin emeritus and New York Magazine contributing editor Will Leitch:
Ken Whisenhunt is the sort of coach who, when he talks, convinces me every time that he is absolutely in control and everything is going precisely to plan. This is what all coaches try to sound like, of course, but Whiz is terrific at it. He talks as if he has the power to bend the universe to his will, as if he’s already seen this movie and knows what happens, even if the rest of us fools do not. It is that specific Whiz cadence that makes me think the Buzzsaw is going to win the NFC West every season. (That, and that every team in the division is always horseshit.) I also believe Whiz all the time because, well, he got the Arizona Cardinals to the Super Bowl, something I never, ever thought would happen in 400 years. (I still don’t quite believe it did.) The previous Cardinals coaches over the previous 30 years before Whisenhunt have been Dennis Green, Dave McGinnis, Vince Tobin, Joe Bugel and Gene Stallings. Those five gentlemen combined for one winning record over those 30 years. ONE. One season with a winning record over THIRTY YEARS. In Whiz’s second season, he reached the Super Bowl. In his five years, he’s had a losing record only once.
I know that Kevin Kolb is terrible and that we’re all way too excited about Michael Floyd and that the offensive line never comes together the way Whiz is always claiming it will. But Ken Whisenhunt has four seasons at .500 or better in his five seasons as coach, and the previous five coaches had two seasons at .500 or better in 30 years. (Neverminding that he has four playoff wins compared to their collective one.) Also, his team plays in front of a sellout crowd every week that’s one of the more underrated noisemakers in the NFL — I’ve honestly never been to a building louder than the Pink Taco. I’ve been to World Series games and Super Bowls and NBA Finals games, and that place during the 2008 win over the Eagles was more deafening that I think a stadium can get — after decades of about 15,000 fans burning their asses on shitty aluminum bleachers in a desert college stadium. Everything has been different since he got here. Maybe it was just a Kurt Warner blip. Maybe I’m too easily swayed by confident coach speak. Maybe it’s just random luck finally turning the Buzzsaw’s way. But Ken Whisenhunt has turned something that made made me miserable for four months every year into something that no one laughs at me for caring about anymore. Forget being a terrific coach: I think he might be a wizard.