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    Could a Warner-led Cardinals team...

    Could a Warner-led Cardinals team really have all they need to win our division? Could Kurt do with the lowly Cards the same that he did with the 99 Rams? Could this come back to bite us in the end?

    You heard it here first
    Warner will lead Cardinals to their first NFC West title,
    by Michael Silver of S.I.

    You might not have realized it from the gloomy pronouncements of the people in my business, but Kurt Warner was the most sought-after quarterback in free agency this past offseason, a clear sign that coaches and personnel experts viewed the two-time MVP's nine-game stint as the New York Giants' starter far more favorably than most of us might have imagined.

    It was entirely fitting, then, that the news of Warner's eventual signing with the Arizona Cardinals was broken not by a football writer, but by some dude in tight shorts, a golf shirt and a dorky Mickey Mouse hat.

    I may be taking some liberties with the Scoopmeister's appearance, but Warner came to his decision around the time he was visiting Disney World, as he does every February, with a group of terminally ill children as part of his affiliation with the Make-a-Wish foundation. On this particular afternoon, Warner was participating in an open forum at an interactive studio at the theme park, and one of the 150 or so people who'd stumbled into the room asked the 33-year-old where he planned to sign.

    "You know," Warner replied. "I'm pretty sure I'm going to be an Arizona Cardinal."

    Suffice it to say, this wasn't the answer the folks in that studio expected. Heck, it wasn't even the answer Warner had expected until a few days earlier. Contacted by virtually every team that went quarterback-shopping in the offseason, Warner pondered overtures from San Francisco, Cleveland, Detroit, Chicago and Miami. The Cardinals were late to enter the mix, but once they did, Dennis Green and his assistants put on a full-court press.

    That, more than anything, was what Warner sought. Having endured a rocky end to his once-charmed run with the St. Louis Rams and an untimely benching to hasten the development of would-be Giants savior Eli Manning, Warner was in full Cheap Trick mode: I want you to want me.

    "They were extremely excited to have me be a part of their organization," Warner said of the Cardinals this past Wednesday morning, a few hours before Green officially named him the team's 2005 starter. "That, more than anything, made it a good fit. Once they got involved, it just felt right."

    Get Warner going, and he will display a salesperson's enthusiasm for his new team's prospects in 2005 -- a pitch that, upon closer examination, makes a great deal of sense. Despite a dubious legacy attributable largely to the Bidwill family's shaky and chintzy ownership approach, the Cards have been getting their house in order since they hired Green following the 2003 season. Arizona went 6-10 last year, but five of those defeats were by a touchdown or less. The team had some bad injury luck and a glaring lack of experience at quarterback, which is where Warner comes into play.

    No, he is not the same passer whose uncanny accuracy and downfield bravado made him the league's most productive player while leading the Rams to a pair of Super Bowls from the 1999 through 2001 seasons -- at least judging from recent evidence. Be it a hand injury that hasn't fully healed or simply a steady erosion of confidence, he has not been that guy for some time.

    Yet Warner remains a savvy player with leadership skills, attributes he displayed in leading the Giants to a surprising 5-3 start in 2004. Most journalists and fans couldn't get past Warner's subpar statistics, but many of the talent evaluators throughout the NFL, mindful of the passer's role in coach Tom Coughlin's restrictive offensive scheme, felt he'd overachieved. The former grocery-bagger-turned-sudden-star-turned-sudden-washout looked even better after Coughlin made the move to Manning, who promptly lost his first six games as the team squandered a possible playoff berth.

    Warner, one of the most relentlessly optimistic men in his profession, harbors no bitterness. "From an overall standpoint, I'm thankful to the Giants and to coach Coughlin for giving me the opportunity they did," Warner said. "Of course, I would've liked to have spent more time on the field, but it put me in a perfect place to get where I am now. I was given the opportunity to show the Arizona Cardinals what I could still do, and now I have the opportunity to lead a team."

    If Warner plays the way he anticipates, the Cardinals could be better than expected. With the return to health of 2003 rookie sensation Anquan Boldin and the vast promise displayed by last year's No. 3 overall pick, Larry Fitzgerald, the team has two potential stars at wideout. Tight end Freddie Jones remains productive, and the enticing Marcel Shipp (if he can stay healthy) and recent second-round draft pick J.J. Arrington give Green a pair of intriguing options at halfback. The signings of respected veterans such as Warner and safety Robert Griffith should pay dividends in the locker room.

    And even though his first instinct is to scoff when people talk up the Cardinals' new uniforms -- a deeply religious Christian, Warner is averse to superstition or any insinuation that luck plays in a role in determining life's events -- he understands the purpose of such a switch.

    "The uniform is cool," Warner said, laughing. "I'm an old-school guy who believes that it doesn't matter what you put me in; I just want to go out and play. But in this case I think it's good because it's in conjunction with a change in both regime -- to Coach Green last year -- and in attitude. I like the mentality that goes with it. It's generated excitement around here, and it's giving everyone the idea that the people wearing them won't be the same old Cardinals."

    Early in our conversation, Warner challenged me to pick the Cardinals to go to their first Super Bowl next February. I won't go that far, but I will say this: In what looks like the NFL's weakest division, Warner will play well enough to push his new team past his estranged mentor Mike Martz's Rams, Dapper Mike Nolan's Niners and Mike "$500,000 per victory" Holmgren's Seahawks. That's right, you heard it here first: The Cardinals will win the NFC West in 2005.

    "Diplomacy is the art of saying 'Nice doggie', until you can find a rock." Will Rogers

  2. #2
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    Re: Could a Warner-led Cardinals team...

    #@$#@#%^&$#@
    My heart beats crazy and my blood runs wild

  3. #3
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    Re: Could a Warner-led Cardinals team...

    The Tards will be feeling fortunate to go 9-7, beating the seachickens 7-9 record, and the whiners 5-11 record. They might be a wildcard, but will never make it to the big dance this year....or next. As far as beating us...well, they better beat a 13-3, or they will be pissin' in the wind, 'cause we own the NFC West....

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    Re: Could a Warner-led Cardinals team...

    You guys are lunatics.

    Apparently you've paid NO attention to what Dennis Green has done with "has-been" Qbs. The Cards will beat both you and us and take the NFC West this season.

    You have no defense, and we still don't have a pass rush.

    Easy pickings for the once lowly Tards.
    Come talk some smack. I dare ya. TalkHawks.com

    2004 Seattle Seahawks --- NFC West Champions!
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  5. #5
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    Re: Could a Warner-led Cardinals team...

    Quote Originally Posted by Mason
    You guys are lunatics.

    Apparently you've paid NO attention to what Dennis Green has done with "has-been" Qbs. The Cards will beat both you and us and take the NFC West this season.

    You have no defense, and we still don't have a pass rush.

    Easy pickings for the once lowly Tards.
    Has-been QB's like who, Daunte Culpepper??? Dude, as much as I think the Cardinals have made some serious upgrades that will make them competitive, they won't be able to seriously hang with an improved Ram team. That is unless Chris Chandler and Jamie Martin are taking snaps, then they'll have a good chance. Savor the illegitimate victory last year over the Bulgerless Rams, it's not likely to happen again any time soon, Warner or no Warner. Sorry.

    By the way, I'm trying to figure out how the fact that you "still don't have a pass rush" helps make the Rams "easy pickings"??? Careful who you call lunatics.
    Last edited by r8rh8rmike; -05-28-2005 at 12:49 AM.

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    Re: Could a Warner-led Cardinals team...

    By the way, I'm trying to figure out how the fact that you "still don't have a pass rush" helps make the Rams "easy pickings"??? Careful who you call lunatics.
    Ok, I must admit I'm at a loss here Mason. Are you a Seasquawk fan who is singing the praises of the Cardinals and predicting they will win the division?? We've never had one of you here.

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    Re: Could a Warner-led Cardinals team...

    Quote Originally Posted by Mason
    Apparently you've paid NO attention to what Dennis Green has done with "has-been" Qbs.
    What has Dennis Green done with "has-been" QBs? He seemingly gets one good season out of them and that's it. Heck, it doesn't even seem like he can stay with one guy for the entire season. The fact that guys like Moon and Cunningham came in and did well for only one season before flopping into mediocrity doesn't lend much to what Green can really do with QBs, IMO.
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  8. #8
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    Re: Could a Warner-led Cardinals team...

    Mason's takes are so off the wall and misplaced, I'm beginning to believe he's a figment of someone's imagination.

  9. #9
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    Re: Could a Warner-led Cardinals team...

    Two words: Jeff George.

    Case closed.

    By the way, you can call me the realistic Seahawk fan.
    Come talk some smack. I dare ya. TalkHawks.com

    2004 Seattle Seahawks --- NFC West Champions!
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  10. #10
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    Re: Could a Warner-led Cardinals team...

    Quote Originally Posted by Mason
    Two words: Jeff George.

    Case closed.

    By the way, you can call me the realistic Seahawk fan.
    Well, if any two words were going to make a case for Mason being a figment of someone's imagination, those work.

  11. #11
    Nick's Avatar
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    Re: Could a Warner-led Cardinals team...

    Quote Originally Posted by Mason
    Two words: Jeff George.
    That wasn't even George's best season of his career! He posted equally good if not better numbers in Oakland and Atlanta. Nice try though.
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  12. #12
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    Re: Could a Warner-led Cardinals team...

    Mason, you are indeed an intriguing character. Do your buddies at talkhawks know you moonlight as a Cardinal fan and disciple of Dennis Green?? Why don't you just come out of the closet and proclaim your redbird tendencies??

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    Re: Could a Warner-led Cardinals team...

    All they have to do is read my sig over there to see how I predict the '05 season. They know my stance, and they know that I wanted Holmgren fired years ago in favor of Green.

    But don't get me wrong, I hate the Cards, almost as much as I do you guys.
    Come talk some smack. I dare ya. TalkHawks.com

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  14. #14
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    Re: Could a Warner-led Cardinals team...

    Quote Originally Posted by Mason
    All they have to do is read my sig over there to see how I predict the '05 season. They know my stance, and they know that I wanted Holmgren fired years ago in favor of Green.

    But don't get me wrong, I hate the Cards, almost as much as I do you guys.
    Well, everyone hates the favorite, don't they.

  15. #15
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    Re: Could a Warner-led Cardinals team...

    Every year, there are two or three teams that showed a spark at the end of the previous year, or are perceived to have had a big offseason, and they become the "flavor of the month." Commentators often trip over each other trying to be the first to say "this is the team on the rise." Every now and again, they actually pick a team that does rise, and they'll crow about being great prognosticators for eternity. Most of the time, though, they're just wrong.


    How many commentators jumped on the Seahawks bandwagon last year? Or the Jaguars? Or even the Bills? Far more, I can assure you, than those who foresaw the rise of the Falcons or Steelers.

    This year, the Cardinals and the Raiders will be the "hot" teams for many, but that does not mean those teams are going anywhere. Sure, they've made some acquisitions, but has anyone noticed that the Cardinals still don't have an offensive line, and the Raiders have no defense?

    So, go ahead, make your bold picks and say "you heard it hear first." I'm sure few will remember at the end of the season when you're "it" teams go 8-8.

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