Cardinals' 10-6 season builds confidence, momentum

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 30, 2013 at 5:25 pm •  Published: December 30, 2013

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — A 10-6 record wasn't good enough to get the Arizona Cardinals into the playoffs.

It did, however, generate a locker room bursting with confidence after one season under coach Bruce Arians.

The Cardinals, a woeful 5-11 a year ago, won seven of their last nine, impressive but not quite enough in the tough NFC West. Arizona went 2-4 against teams in its division, with the biggest win two weeks ago at Seattle.

That victory and Sunday's 23-20 near miss against San Francisco have the Cardinals believing they can go toe-to-toe with the two NFC powers.

"The sky's the limit," quarterback Carson Palmer said as he cleaned out his locker Monday.

The 61-year-old Arians, 9-3 as interim head coach at Indianapolis last year, and his staff developed a team that steadily got better.

Some players called Arians a father figure.

"I don't like that," he said. "I'm the cool uncle that everybody wants to have a drink with."

Well, "Uncle Bruce" meshed a roster that, at season's end, had 28 players in their first year with the team, including half of the starters, as the Cardinals compiled just their third 10-win season since 1976. Along the way, the team made 192 roster moves.

"You have to build belief," Arians said. "I don't think there's a guy in that room right now that doesn't believe we can walk out in any stadium in the NFL right now and compete, and compete for 60 minutes and have a chance to win."

But significant personnel challenges loom.

Sixteen players have expiring contracts. Six of them are starters— inside linebacker Karlos Dansby, running back Rashard Mendenhall, right tackle Eric Winston, outside linebacker Matt Shaughnessy, safety Yeremiah Bell and tight end Jim Dray.

"We'll do everything we can as an organization to keep the pieces we think that are important," Arians said.

One of those pieces is Dansby, who resurrected his career with an outstanding season.

Dansby returned to his former team on a one-year deal and finished among the league leaders in solo tackles with 119. He also had 6½ sacks and four interceptions — two returned for touchdowns.

"We definitely want to keep Karlos here," Arians said. "(General manager) Steve (Keim) has already started talking to him. As a coach, you don't want to lose that guy for sure."

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