‘Real quarterback’ excites Cardinals’ Campbell

Remember football? Yes? The Cardinals
report to camp in just 10 days — crazy, right? — and while last year
went (ahem) poorly, there’s a cliche about how every team is a contender
in training camp.

True, it’s just a cliche, and the
Niners and the Seahawks are really good and so on and so forth, but
Calais Campbell is telling everybody that yes, seriously, the Cardinals
will contend in the NFC West. Why? What’s different this
year?

As he told
CBS
Sports
in an extensive interview over the weekend,
“We have a quarterback.”

That would be Carson Palmer,
of course, acquired in a trade with the Raiders after nine seasons
(featuring varying degrees of statistical success) in Cincinnati and
Oakland.

Regardless of your opinion about Palmer’s
age or lack of wins, one thing that’s almost certain is that, for the
Cardinals, it really can’t get any worse. We’ll spare you a recap of
last year’s utter debacle at quarterback following Kevin Kolb’s
season-ending injuries, but here’s a telling stat: Over the last three
years (since Kurt Warner’s retirement), the Cards have twice finished
31st — out of 32 teams in the league — in scoring. In 2011, they
finished 19th, which comparatively makes them the equivalent of the 2008
Patriots but didn’t even make them average relative to the rest of the
league that year.

So the Cardinals offense has ranged
only from bad to flat-out awful over the past three years. And even
last year, the Cards lost five games in which the opponent was held to
23 points or fewer. The distinction between 5-11 and 10-6 isn’t a huge
one in the NFL.

None of this is new information for
Campbell.

“I think it’s very likely we can win the
division, yes,” he tells Freeman. “I respect every opponent in our
division. Every one. But I think of it this way: We were able to hang in
a bunch of our division games without a real
quarterback.

“I don’t want to disrespect anyone, but
now we have a real quarterback to go with a good defense. When we play
with a lead, we’re hard to beat. This is the first time in years that we
have an offense that matches our defense.”

So he
doesn’t want to disrespect anyone, but he does want it to be clear that
the Cardinals’ quarterback play has been so awful that he can’t even
consider it “real” quarterback play. Kevin Kolb, John Skelton, Ryan
Lindley, Brian Hoyer, Derek Anderson and Max Hall might disagree, but an
opinion is an opinion.

Whether Palmer is a real
quarterback (based on Campbell’s unstated definition) remains to be
seen, but hey, it’s summer, which means optimism is
welcome.