I'm trying not to get excited
In 2017, I watched the Arizona Cardinals embarrass themselves to a 33-0 loss against the Los Angeles Rams at Twickenham, London. I didn't know it then, but that shutout would be Carson Palmer's final game, stretchered off with an arm snapped in half, but beyond that it was a moment of clarity for Cardinals fans. A moment of realisation that yes, we were terrible again, but also signalling the cruellest of conclusions for one of the league's greatest ever players.
Nine years on from his appearance at Super Bowl XLIII, it looked as though Larry Fitzgerald had watched his final shot at a championship ring slip through his ever-reliable fingers. The pain I have felt, watching this no-questions-asked Hall of Famer loyally improvising positivity when surrounded by roster after roster of unbelievable disappointment goes beyond words. Larry Fitzgerald, the greatest wide receiver of all time (I said it), is going to retire without a championship. A travesty. An unbelievable waste.
But, in 2020, something unsettling is happening. I have hope, and his name is Kyler Murray.
Kyler Murray is playing better than anyone else in the NFL right now, and I really do mean that. I know we're only two weeks in, but following his successes against the San Francisco 49ers and the Washington Football Team, it's hard not to recognise just how gifted this kid is. We knew he was good, fresh off his well-earned NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award, but starting off his second professional year this guy is lighting the league up and announcing himself as an MVP candidate for the 2020 season. He runs better than Michael Vick and he passes better than Lamar Jackson. He is a machine, he is 5"10 and I love him.
Ok, we have a great quarterback. Brilliant. Job well done Steve Keim, but what about the rest of the team? Larry Fitzgerald is an all-time legend, but this is his 17th (bloody hell) season - how much more can he offer as Arizona's #1 WR option?
I almost forgot! The Cardinals traded for DeAndre Hopkins.
With what just might be the best receiver in the league, Kyler Murray is now unguardable. You commit to Hopkins, Murray's gonna run. You commit to Murray, you're leaving Hopkins wiiiiiide open. Add Christian Kirk, Andy Isabella and Fitzgerald and suddenly the Cardinals are a dark horse for having the best receiving core in the entire NFL.
But no, I know this feeling. I remember hope. I remember what belief feels like and I simply don't trust it anymore. I don't think there's anything that the Cardinals could do to make me believe in this football team. Kenyan Drake is still contributing on the ground? Fine. Budda Baker is in with a shout for the All-Star game? That's ok. Patrick Peterson is still an elite talent at cornerback? Alright, but I still just don't know if I can believe in this team.
Oh wait. Chandler Jones still looks like he eats bicycles for breakfast. Every time he faces against a quarterback, they look scared. He is big, he is fast and his brother breaks noses in the UFC. Player by player the team is starting to look really strong, and I'm getting more excited than I should be allowing myself to be.
I can't stress how much I'm trying to stay level-headed about the Cardinals. I don't want to get hurt again, but this team just might be the best squad the city has had since their last (and only) Super Bowl run. The O-Line is still leaky, the defensive front offers little beyond the all encompassing mega-rage of Jones and I don't know what to make of Reddick, Hicks and new rookie Isaiah Simmons as the current linebacker lineup, but god I'm getting excited about this team.
It's so early to be making bold predictions, so I'm not going to, but the football being played by Kliff Kingsbury right now is nothing short of electric. If we're going to play, we might as well play some of the most entertaining football in the league, and that's just what the team is doing. The Arizona Cardinals are 2-0 and face a run of three very winnable games before a crunch matchup against the Dallas Cowboys on October 20th. If this team can't beat the Detroit Lions, Carolina Panthers and the New York Jets, they don't deserve to be in the playoffs, simple as, but if the Cardinals can somehow negotiate their way to a 5-1 record by the time the big divisional games come around I'm going to find it incredibly difficult to stay rational about our chances to win it all.
Larry Fitzgerald has stuck around for 17 years, just *waiting* for that elusive Super Bowl ring with the only professional team he's ever worn a uniform for, and this might just be the best squad he's ever had to work with. Hold on everyone, the Arizona Cardinals might just be great.
Thanks for reading! Slow Motion Panic Masters is a music, arts and culture blog created and edited by Ben Wheadon, a literature student and musician based at the University of Oxford. He is also a Fleet Foxes shill. Follow us on instagram, like us on facebook and subscribe to our mailing list below to be alerted every time a new post is published on the site.