There’s no questioning that the Arizona Cardinals need a quarterback. How they’ll find one is a different story.
There’s also no questioning that the Cardinals need to rebound after a dismal 2010 season. Most of the conventional plans have already been discussed, but one alternative plan has not.
So far, the Cardinals have been interested in every signal caller from Cam Newton to Blaine Gabbert and Kevin Kolb to Carson Palmer. Kyle Orton, Matt Flynn, you name a quarterback that might be available and Arizona has sniffed around at the prospect of bringing them to the desert.
The scenarios above have been beat to death this offseason in Arizona, but one possibility hasn’t been: continue losing and stay in the running for Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck in 2012.
Yes, in the current day and age of the NFL, winning is everything. More importantly, winning now is everything. Coming off two consecutive NFC West titles, Arizona fell hard from its perch atop the division in 2010, managing a record of just 5-11.
Unlike other NFL teams, however, winning isn’t the norm for the Cardinals. In fact, it’s an anomaly.
Although this theory might initially sound crazy, it makes too much sense to completely disregard. Arizona is in a better position to lose, rather than win. Sure, they could work into all hours of the night trying to create their own luck, but it would be much easier sit back, relax, and let Luck (Andrew) come to them.
There would be several parties that need to be onboard with a strategy like this, and if any team was going to slack off to land Luck, the Cardinals might be the best candidate.
The Bidwill family, owners of the franchise, has never been enamored with winning. Dating back to their days in Chicago and St. Louis, winning has never been a top priority. Sure, it’s nice when it happens, but commitments to excellence displayed by organizations like the Pittsburgh Steelers, Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers? Not even close.
Next up would be the head coach. Ken Whisenhunt has done an admirable job since coming to Arizona but last year’s fiasco certainly put a damper on what he’s accomplished thus far. Nonetheless, Whisenhunt’s job security can probably be considered one of the strongest in the NFL. He led a once morbid franchise within seconds of a Super Bowl victory back in the 2008 season which should buy him at least another year or two of hard times.
If Whisenhunt wants to win, he
might sit back and wait for Luck.
With the owner and head coach potentially approving the idea of targeting Luck in 2012, the tricky part commences. How can the team throw in the towel without making it obvious? Doing nothing at the quarterback position would be a great start.
There are plenty of excuses working in the Cardinals' favor. The lockout has prevented any movement on the free agent or trade market. Names such as Kolb, Palmer and even Marc Bulger have been untouchable. Furthermore, the draft is lacking a home-run candidate under center. The likes of Sam Bradford and Matt Ryan don’t exist this year and while Newton and Gabbert have assumed those positions, both are far from a sure thing.
The hardest part of this plan would be keeping the fans satisfied through another season of losing. A brief taste of winning has left Cardinal fans craving more. The economy further complicates things, with season ticket sales struggling to keep pace with recent years.
Those struggling ticket sales, however, would sky rocket should Luck eventually make his way to the desert. And if Luck lives up to his billing, years of winning could be in store.
While it would be difficult to swallow, losing has come easy for Arizona and followers of the team are still antagonistic. 2010 was back to normal following a brief and surprising two-year run of winning. Would one more season of losing hurt? Would it be worth it to land a can’t-miss prospect such as Luck?
As bad as the team was a year ago, how much improvement can be made in one offseason? Particularly during an offseason where teams have been handcuffed to make any moves to get better.
Let’s say the Cardinals bring in a new quarterback and a handful of upgrades elsewhere. Realistically speaking, a record of 7-9 or 8-8 would be a great success. Improving two or three games in the win column is about all you can ask for. Would that be worth it to end up on the outside looking in for Luck?
One more season of losing should be tolerable for the Cardinal faithful and with the prospect of landing a once-in-a-generation quarterback like Luck, it might just be worth it in the end.
Questions or comments? Contact Brad Wilbricht at firstname.lastname@example.org
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