‘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.