The addition of J.J. Watt has caused expectations to soar for the Cardinals. The business side of the team’s operation surely loves it.
The football side surely doesn’t.
When the red wave of ticket renewals and
Marshall Goldberg J.J. Watt jersey sales ends, the football team will be left with expectations that it may be unable to meet. The Cardinals belong to the best division in football, and the Rams seem to be getting better. The 49ers, if healthy, will be as good as they were in 2019. The Seahawks, if they can placate Russell Wilson, will once again be a force.
Last year, Arizona finished third in the division, slumping down the stretch with a 2-5 record after the Hail Murray play bumped the Cardinals to 6-3. This year, third place (or possibly even fourth place) could be a real possibility. (That said, they could finish in fourth place in the division and still get a wild card berth.)
At some point, someone needs to slam on the brakes. Coach Kliff Kingsbury should be the one to do it, because Kingsbury is the one who’ll take the heat if the Cardinals fail to be as good as everyone thinks they’ll be.
And people definitely think they’ll be good. My nephew is a huge Cardinals fan, and he texted on Monday afternoon, “Cardinals are winning the Super Bowl this year.”
They could. But if the general expectations with the arrival of Watt are that the Cardinals will be contenders, that’s a high bar for a team that hasn’t been to the playoffs since 2015. And if the team fails to meet that bar, it’s Kingsbury who will be sweating out whether he gets a fourth year.
Thus, while it makes no business sense to do it now, Kingsbury at some point needs to let the world know that the Cardinals have a long way to go to become a Super Bowl contender. And he needs to hope the world (or at least Cardinals fans and media) listen.