by Alex Poletti
The announcement of the NFL schedule for the upcoming season has been the talk of the football world for the past few days, with no schedule as surprising as the Arizona Cardinals, who must face themselves and their families in weeks 13 and 17 after a year’s worth of failure.
This is the first matching of its kind for the NFL, who usually pit teams against other teams. However, the Cardinals rank so low on the totem pole that the executives in charge of scheduling decided to give Arizona some leeway.
“We know it’s a little unorthodox,” Howard Katz, Senior Vice President of Scheduling for the NFL says, “but we thought it would be better for these players and the league if the team just sat down and took a long, hard look at themselves and really addressed their problems.”
The Cardinals finished 3-13 last season, good enough for last in the league. Other than signing former Eagles linebacker Jordan Hicks, they have done very little to improve their laughably bad team. The organization does have the number one draft pick, but they are expected to mess that up as they do everything else.
While some fans and critics view these two weeks as an easy way out for the struggling franchise, some players, including former first-round draft pick Josh Rosen, have already circled these weeks as ones to watch.
“I think [week 13 and 17] are going to give me a lot of trouble,” Rosen says. “There are definitely some difficult defenses in the league right now, but none of that can compare to the look on my mom and dad’s faces when I have to break the news that I’m probably getting benched by the worst team in the NFL.”
The revolutionary move has also been criticized due to its disruption of other teams’ schedules. However, NFL execs have thought this through as well.
“We know that taking the Cardinals out of schedule is going to have a ripple effect around the league,” Katz says. “But we have more than accounted for this. They were supposed to play Rams those weeks, so the game was more of a formality anyway.”
The Cardinals coaching staff has made it clear to their fans and players that they intend to approach these weeks with maximum effort.
“I want everyone to know how seriously I and the team are taking these games,” defensive coordinator Vance Joseph says, “because I don’t think my marriage can survive another shitty season.”