This is not an exercise Cardinal players enjoy.
Ideally, you want to have one year in which people are warned to take your team seriously. After that, there should be no need for reminders.
But these Cardinals have remained steadfastly mediocre to poor. In 2007, they went 8-8 after back-to-back 5-11 seasons under Dennis Green. The very good current Cardinals (Edgerrin James, Anquan Boldin, Larry Fitzgerald, Adrian Wilson) are merely following in the footsteps of Cardinals predecessors like Frank Sanders, Aeneas Williams and Jake Plummer. Good players. Bad teams. Persistently bad.
Do you know how many times the Cardinals won 10 games in the past 30 years? Zero. The last time the Cardinals franchise reached 10 wins, it was based in St. Louis and it was 1976. Since that time, the Cards have finished over .500 three times. That's mind-bogglingly horrible.
So, relatively speaking, the eight wins in '07 (head coach Ken Whisenhunt’s first season in charge) was a bumper crop of victories.
But for Wilson, the Cardinals strong safety, enough is enough with the "wait 'till this year" stuff.
"I don't like to talk about it; I'd rather be about it," Wilson stated. "The more you talk about it, the more you hype yourself, the more you forget that you have to prove it on the field. People in the media tag us as the 'it team' and people start reading into that. Once they read into it, they (forget about) going out and actually playing the game."
From an outsider's viewpoint, the Cardinals have never really been about anything. They've had no identity. Teams like the Bills or Titans? They aren't very talented. But nobody wants to play them because they are smart, nasty and will leave a mark. The Cardinals have always seemed soft.
Whisenhunt, the former Steelers offensive coordinator, has taken pains to ratchet up his team's toughness. Wednesday night on the campus of Northern Arizona University you could sense it.
On that crisp, cloudy night, the Cardinals practiced with tempo and efficiency. No downtime. Plays flowed together quickly as players shuttled in and out. The "thump" style of tackling (a defensive player wraps the ballcarrier but doesn't bring him down) was right on the edge of overaggressive.
Finally, it bubbled over.
"Iti important to establish things like that," said Cardinals quarterback Matt Leinart. "That physical play where we go in and teams say, 'It's the Cardinals. They're tough. We're in for a dogfight.' It’s important to establish that and I think teams saw that last year. We have a lot more confidence. We have it on the practice field and we need to take it into the games."
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