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Know Your Opponent: Arizona Cardinals

So, I took a little heat last week for simply hurling schoolyard insults at the Saints in “Know Your Opponent: New Orleans”Not as much heat as the Saints took in FedEx, but I digress.

I intend to still hurl my schoolyard insults this week because, c’mon, it’s the Cardinals, are we really afraid of a team that has named itself after a perching songbird?

The Arizona Cardinals (formerly the Phoenix Cardinals and Chicago Cardinals) were once the St. Louis Cardinals. They have the distinction of being one of only six teams in the NFL to have never appeared in a Super Bowl. Chicago’s replacement for the Cardinals (the Bears) and St. Louis’ replacement for the Cardinals (the Rams) have both not only appeared in, but won Super Bowls.

As a matter of fact, the Cardinals current starting QB, Kurt Warner, won Super Bowl XXXIV with those very same St. Louis Rams.

The fact that the Cardinals have never appeared in a Super bowl is especially amazing when you consider that they are, in fact, one of the oldest teams in the league. The Cardinals were NFL Champions in 1925 and 1947 and last played for the NFL title in 1948. However, the team has not won a league title nor played in the championship game since then, and thus currently holds the NFL record for the longest championship drought and along with the Houston Texans (founded in 2002) are the only team not to appear in a conference championship game.

Prior to NFL realignment in 2002, Arizona was part of the NFC East. Washington has played the Cardinals franchise 112 times in the regular season. The Redskins hold the series lead 69-42-1 and holds a 44-18 advantage at home with a 6-1 record in games played at FedEx Field. The Redskins have won six of their last seven games against Arizona.

Arizona’s Head Coach, Ken Whisenhunt and Assistant Head Coach Russ Grimm both played for the Redskins at one time. Grimm, a former member of the “Hogs”, was coached by Joe Bugel who was Washington Offensive Line Coach at the time. Bugel went on to become the Cardinals Head Coach in 1990, while Grimm went on to become the Redskins Tight Ends Coach in 1992. Bugel has since returned to the Redskins as their Offensive Line Coach.

Assistant head coach-running backs Stump Mitchell played for the Cardinals franchise from 1981-89. He was a ninth-round draft choice in 1981 by the Cardinals and remains the Cardinals all-time leader in combined yardage with 11,988 yards and ranks second with 4,649 rushing yards on 986 attempts. He has 32 career touchdowns.

London Fletcher played with Kurt Warner when they were both with the Rams and was part of the team that won Super Bowl XXXIV.

The Cardinals are coming into Washington after strong performances in their first two games and a 2-0 record. They are currently ranked 7th in total offense thanks largely to their passing game which is ranked 5th. The Cardinals are ranked 19th in rushing offense. The Cardinals are also ranked 7th in total defense.

This sounds terribly impressive until you consider that the Cardinals first two opponents were San Francisco and Miami who finished 5-11 and 1-15 respectively last year.

The Redskins faced the Cardinals last year at FedEx Field on Oct. 21, 2007. London Fletcher picked off Kurt Warner and followed a caravan of Redskins into the end zone for a 27-yard interception return for a touchdown. The Redskins built a 21-6 lead in the second half.

Arizona rallied in the fourth quarter, scoring two touchdowns. A game-tying 2-point conversion attempt failed, but the Cardinals had one last chance as kicker Neil Rackers attempted a game-winning field goal with seven seconds left. The kick sailed wide left.

Now you know your opponent.

Go ‘Skins!

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