The Arizona Cardinals are so focused on the season opener with the San Francisco 49ers Sept 13 at University of Phoenix Stadium, that they haven't noticed anything else.
All the causes for concern? Never saw them. The 0-4 preseason? Doesn't matter. It's as if it never happened.
Heck, Cardinals safety Adrian Wilson is so focused on picking up a Week One victory that he has forgotten the identity of his opponent.
Arizona is so focused on building upon last year's success--a NFC West Division title and a Super Bowl appearance--that no other outside influences matter.
The critics say the Cardinals will be one-year wonders. Flukes of the 2008 season. A team primed for a reality check. Arizona, on the other hand, claims, well, nothing.
This is a confident bunch. Arizona entered camp with a swagger and hasn't relinquished it yet. The offense's woes over the four-game preseason slate doesn't have the Cardinals concerned. Not one bit. Arizona's starting quarterback, Kurt Warner, failed to throw a touchdown pass and never quite looked comfortable in the pocket. Scoring in the red zone has been a chore and the receiving core suffered injuries to two key players in Anquan Boldin and Steve Breaston.
Some members of the media are quick to point out the Cardinals finished last year's regular season with just nine victories in a sub-par division which featured just one team with a record over .500. They'll point back to the Cardinals' final eight games of the regular season where the defense was sliced like wheat bread and trampled in a stampede of long passes and runs. The Cardinals' 2-4 record in their final six games of the regular season will be remembered. But during that time, Arizona never looked at the stats when it surrendered 34 or more points five times in its final eight games of the regular season. At some point, the Cardinals stopped looking at the standings. When all was said and done, the Cardinals' ignorance became the reason for their dominance. Arizona made the right moves and found the right adjustments.
The Cardinals are clueless and voluntarily unaware of their surroundings. A Super Bowl appearance did a lot for an Arizona team that plays a game where confidence, in the most important moments, overrides talent and becomes the deciding factor. The pundits haven't been giving the Cardinals much respect and Arizona, in return hasn't been listening.
In life, operating in a glass jar and focusing on things which can be controlled help clear the path for success. During their journey filled with peaks and valleys last season, the Cardinals figured that out.
Now they're here. Quiet. Focused. Confident. A quick taste of winning can change the entire culture of a franchise and erase decades of embarrassment. The passing game has to find its gear. The running game is still unproven against regular season talent and Anquan Boldin and Darnell Dockett are still looking for new deals. These could all be distractions. Somehow the Cardinals have managed to push these things into the back of their heads. Winning is like a magic wand. It can transform doormats into division title winners. It has, in a matter of months, matured this Cardinals team and given the franchise a sense of pride. Winning has helped this Arizona team forget and ignore. A few more W's and a flirtation with success sure has made the Cardinals smart.