The Arizona Cardinals are the NFL’s most surprising team, with a league-best eight wins and a two-game lead in perhaps the best division in football.
All this success can be credited to head coach Bruce Arians, whose mantra of “next man up” could not be more meaningful than after what happened last weekend. Quarterback Carson Palmer, who just days earlier signed a three-year contract extension worth a reported $50 million, including $20.5 million guaranteed, was lost for the year when he tore the ACL in his left knee.
Combine that with the losses on the defensive side of the ball, including linebacker Daryl Washington's season-long suspension and defensive end Darnell Dockett’s knee injury, and Arizona has no choice but to call on the depth chart’s next player.
Arians, who is the NFL’s fourth-oldest head coach, gets his point across with a blunt, no-holds-barred style. For example:
On his line’s play in a 31-14 win over the St. Louis Rams on Sunday: They got their “asses whipped.”
On his letting his team's early success go to his head. “It’s a short elevator ride back to the s—house. I have been a sorry SOB for 17, 18 years now. That ain’t changed just because we won a couple of games.”
Also in this issue: features on Houston Texans All-Pro J.J. Watt, the Dallas Cowboys offensive line, TCU’s run to a possible college football playoff berth, Bayern Munich manager Pep Guardiola and New Orleans Pelicans forward Ryan Anderson as he struggled to find meaning and hope after his girlfriend's suicide last year.
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