The Arizona Cardinals were sitting at 1-6 through their first seven games this season. They were trying to implement a new defensive system, they were playing a lot of young and inexperienced players, and they were trying to work through the growing pains of a new quarterback who had a condensed offseason to get acclimated to a new team. The Cardinals looked like one of the worst teams in the NFL and they were left for dead in the NFC West. Then something changed.
Arizona is 6-1 in the last seven games with impressive wins over Dallas, Philadelphia, and San Francisco. Their win over the Browns this past weekend wasn’t pretty but it capped off a four game winning streak, which had never been done since head coach Ken Whisenhunt arrived in the valley. At 7-7, the Cardinals playoff chances are basically a pipe dream. They need a lot of help and their fate might’ve been sealed when the Lions had a very impressive comeback win over the Raiders, but with the way they have played to close out the season, there is a lot of reason for optimism in Arizona.
Larry Fitzgerald joined PFT Live with Mike Florio to talk about what changed for the team after the 1-6 start, what the biggest win was for the team during this impressive late season run, what two losses stick in his mind the most, whether or not it will help him and Kevin Kolb to have a full offseason to work and get to know each other, and why he has had more success with John Skelton as opposed to Kolb.
What the mindset was when the team was 1-6:
“I think guys were just fed up with the situation we were in. Losing six straight games with the talent and the ability that we have on this team, there was a time for a change and Coach Whisenhunt challenged all the men in the locker room. We didn’t have anybody lay down or quit. Nobody didn’t believe and we were able to put it together one win at a time and it’s been a great ride.”
What changed for the team after the 1-6 start to the season:
“Well a combination of two things. Offensively we weren’t playing great football and defensively we weren’t playing great football. I think the single biggest change for us has been the defense. They have played lights out football for the last seven weeks, they have done a terrific job of holding people to field goals when they get down to the red zone, causing turnovers, and it’s been so much fun to watch those guys. It’s been not only one guy but a whole group effort on that side of the ball. We’ve been able to protect the football a little bit better and not turn the ball over as much and it’s giving us opportunities to win games down the stretch.”
What game sticks out as the most impressive win during this run late in the season:
“I would say definitely the San Francisco game for us as a team. Them being in our division, us not really liking them, them not really liking us, to be able to beat them was great for us because they had beaten us five games in a row so I would say the sweetest victory we have had in this run was the San Francisco run.”
What games really stick in his mind as one the Cards should’ve won:
“I would say there’s two that really stick in my mind and hurt me the most. I would say the Baltimore Ravens game where we had them down 21 points coming into the second half and we lost that game in Baltimore in early October. And then I would say the Giants game when we had them down 10 points with four minutes to go and they had a controversial Victor Cruz fumble that coulda been fumble. Maybe it was a fumble or maybe wasn’t a fumble and it ended up not going our way and we lost that game too. Those two really stick out in my mind.”
How much he thinks it will help him and Kevin Kolb to have a full off-season together
“I think it’s gonna be really beneficial for all of us to be able to have a full off-season. Just to be able to get everybody acclimated, him acclimated with us, and us acclimated with him and him being able to get comfortable with what we’re trying to do. That’s gonna be huge for our offense and I’m excited about the guys that we have on this team and in the future as well.”
Why he believes he has had more success with John Skelton as opposed to Kolb:
“It’s hard to put my finger on it. Kevin, him not being in this system sometimes he may be reluctant to let the ball go or throw it to me in certain situations because a lot of times I’m not blatantly open and I know in Philly when he had DeSean Jackson and (Jeremy) Maclin, guys that are running wide open, those guys are really fast and quick out of their breaks and I’m a little different. I’m not gonna be able to beat guys by four or five yards like that so I’m not gonna look as open. I think it’s gonna come with trust and getting to know me a little bit better. John has been here a year longer and he knows kinda how to get the ball to me in terms of just giving me an opportunity even when it doesn’t look good.”