Isn’t it strange how much these two teams have veered apart since the 2004 NFL Draft? One team came within less than two minutes from winning a Superbowl; the other has had a top ten draft pick five out of the last six years.
The Arizona Cardinals, who lost in Superbowl XLIII, could have turned out a very different franchise if the Oakland Raiders had decided to draft Pittsburgh Panther stud wideout Larry Fitzgerald instead of Iowa Hawkeye tackle Robert Gallery. Gallery was taken 2nd overall in the 2004 draft, followed by Arizona’s pick of Fitzgerald.
The picks, however, have begun to define the teams themselves.
Since Fitzgerald’s rookie season in 2004, he has recorded 7,193 yards receiving, 60 touchdowns and four trips to Hawaii for the Pro Bowl.
Likewise, the Cardinals have won more division titles (2) and playoff games (4) since 2004 than in their entire history in the Superbowl era. The Cardinals had a new, state-of-the-art stadium built which held the team’s first NFC Championship Game in 2008. And Arizona has also become a great destination for free agents and have regularly signed their high draft picks, with little issue, before training camp.
Since Gallery’s rookie season in 2004, things haven’t been as fortunate for him. Gallery has since moved back to guard from tackle, made zero Pro Bowls and unlike Troy Polomalu, has terrible hair
The Raiders haven’t faired much better. Since ’04, the Raiders have recorded 26 wins in 98 games – 22 less than Arizona – and have not made the playoffs once. The Raiders have also seen four different coaches in seven years, including one-year wonders Art Shell and Lane Kiffin. The Raiders may have drafted what could be the biggest bust in NFL history, JaMarcus Russell, as well.
The only constant the Raiders have is longtime owner and Kim Jong Il look-a-like Al Davis, who most would argue is the worst owner in sports.
This week, nevertheless, will give the Raiders a chance to redeem themselves for not drafting Larry Fitzgerald as they venture to Glendale to face the Cardinals in their home opener – without the injured Robert Gallery.
The thing both teams can say they have in common this season is bad quarterback play which has then turned into a quarterback controversy. In Oakland, head coach Tom Cable announced earlier this week that second string quarterback Bruce Gradkowski will be the starter in Sunday’s game. This comes after Cable and his staff decided to remove former starter Jason Campbell, who was acquired from the Washington Redskins during the offseason, after playing a poor first half against the St. Louis Rams. Gradkowski will be making his first start since 2008 as a member of the Cleveland Browns.
The Cardinals, who are playing their first home game since defeating the Green Bay Packers in the highest scoring playoff game of all-time, will be starting their typical number one quarterback Derek Anderson. Anderson has played poorly this season in two games, leaving Arizona fans to question Cards’ coach Ken Whisenhunt for not only releasing former first-round pick Matt Leinart, but having two rookie quarterbacks back up the often inconsistent Anderson. Whisenhunt has said that Anderson’s job is safe but rookie backup Max Hall did see his first regular season NFL action last week in the waning minutes of a blowout game against the Atlanta Falcons in week 2.
Cards 27, Raiders 14
Whether it’s ugly or a blow out, I can’t see the Cardinals dropping this game at home in front of a sold out crowd. They are a desperate team with the talent and coaching to stop the Raiders. And with the addition of Beanie Wells to the backfield, the Cards should see more success on the ground.
- RB Michael Bush – (Thumb) Probable
- WR Chaz Schilens WR – (Knee) Out
- G Robert Gallery – (Hamstring) Out
- DT Richard Seymour – (Hamstring) Probable
- DT John Henderson – (Foot) Questionable
- LB Travis Goethel – (Back) Out
- LB Ricky Brown – (Hamstring) Probable
- CB Chris Johnson – (Neck) Questionable
- CB Walter McFadden – (Hamstring) Questionable
- S Hiram Eugene – (Hamstring) Questionable
- RB Chris “Beanie” Wells – (Knee) Questionable
- WR Early Doucet – (Groin) Out
- WR Steve Breaston – (Knee) Questionable
- G Alan Faneca – (Back) Questionable
- DE Kenny Iwebema – (Knee) Probable
- LB Will Davis – (Head) Questionable
- LB Clark Haggans – (Heel) Probable
- S Hamza Abdullah – (Hamstring) Probable
About the Author
Written by Zack Jones