The Cardinals have had a rocky year. Now that training camp is rolling, new coach Jonathan Gannon is attempting a cultural reset.
Gannon, who could have (in theory) criticized the Kliff Kingsbury regime, is intent on turning the page.
“I don’t know about what went on in the past, but I know the standards that we’ve laid out for the entire team, they’re doing a really good job of trying to improve and get better with that on a daily basis,” Gannon said, via Bob McManaman of the Arizona Republic. “So, overall, very, very pleased with where we’re at with that. . . . Culture is how you behave on a daily basis. You’re either behaving in a winning way or not.”
The cultural change includes insisting on punctuality and other things that make it clear that the players are conducting themselves in a mature and responsible way.
“You can’t be 30 seconds late to a meeting,” linebacker Zaven Collins said, via McManaman. “You need to be better at taking care of your stuff without being guided. We’re grown men doing this thing. It’s small things like that. Even if it’s the small things, you can’t get away from it.”
The focus on the small things has made a big difference.
“It’s been a culture shock,” tackle D.J. Humphries said. “It ain’t even been no gradual shift. It’s shock. It’s ‘Get ready or get going.’”
The players generally seem to be buying in.
“It’s accountability, just togetherness,” running back James Conner said, via McManaman. “Mastering the basics in our foundation and realizing what wins football games. That’s being really disciplined, it’s being in shape and just being accountable to your teammates.
“We have one goal: that’s to win. I’m in and we put the team first. That’s our message. That’s what we’re preaching — team first and we come second. Everything is about putting the team first and not getting in your own way.”
Not getting in their own way means not doing anything in practice that could be an issue during games. Starting with a strict rule against fighting in camp.
“It’s a non-negotiable,” Gannon recently said, via Darren Urban of the team’s official website. “And why it’s a non-negotiable is because you get thrown out in a game for it.”
While the Cardinals might not currently have the players to compete at a high level, Gannon is laying a foundation that could help the team perform much better, once they get better pieces in place.