The Arizona Cardinals were one of the surprise teams this season. Not one national columnist or commentator predicted that the Cardinals would finish with 10 wins. If you are the gambling type, I hope you took the over, because not even Vegas was close to getting it right. Looking back at the season, it was both successful and disappointing. Successful because the Cardinals were legitimate playoff contenders and would have been in if the playoffs were decided on record alone. Disappointing because the playoffs aren’t decided that way, so the Cardinals were left to watch at home this weekend like the rest of us.
To have a successful season requires many things to go right. In this case many players to play well. The Cardinals had several key factors that helped them push for the playoffs till the very last game. Carson Palmer was a steadying force at quarterback, bringing some much needed stability to a position that was nothing but chaos last season. Larry Fitzgerald was Larry Fitzgerald, but this year he had a bonafide tag-team partner in Michael Floyd. Rookie’s Andre Ellington and Tyrann Mathieu were electric at times. The defense was fantastic as always, with great play from Patrick Peterson, Calais Campbell, and Daryl Washington.
But who deserves to take home the very last game ball of the season? Who was the Cardinals biggest impact player this season?
I’ll give you a hint. It felt like he never left.
Inside linebacker Karlos Dansby was an afterthought for most people coming into the season. He was a low risk addition on a one year deal. Dansby was a second-round pick for the Cardinals in 2004. He played six solid seasons for the team before taking the big contract with the Dolphins. He played three seasons in Miami before being released this past offseason. They say it’s never too late to come home again. Cardinal fans are sure glad that he did.
Dansby led the team with 122 tackles, recorded 6.5 sacks, and had four interceptions. Two of those interceptions he returned for touchdowns. He was a leader on one of the league’s best defenses. This past week he was rewarded for his efforts, earning a nod on the All-Pro second team.
I’m sure the Cardinals would love to bring Dansby back next season, but once again finances will be a factor. For Dansby, this will almost certainly be his last shot at a big contract and the Cardinals drafted Kevin Minter to fill the spot alongside Daryl Washington.
No matter what happens in the future, this season, Karlos Dansby deserves every bit of praise he gets. Including this season’s game ball.
Read about Dansby making the All-Pro Team here.