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All or Nothing: A Season with the Arizona Cardinals

All or Nothing is an Amazon Prime series detailing an entire season with a specific sports team. Season 1 focuses on the 2015 season of the Arizona Cardinals. 

As a Brit and someone who’s knowledge of American sports are limited, I have taken it upon myself to learn more about the game of football, which should help me here at Sports Obsessive. I personally find documentaries fascinating and I’m hoping that this dive into the Amazon Prime Docu-series All or Nothing will enable me to learn more. The first season covers the NFL team, the Arizona Cardinals during the 2015 season and from my first impressions, I think I’m going to like it here in the Red, White and Black.

Who Are The Arizona Cardinals?

The Arizona Cardinals (since 1994) were founded as an amateur football team in 1889 as Morgan Athletic Club in Chicago and are the longest running football team in the United States, competing currently in the Western Division of the NFC. They would soon turn pro and join the newly founded NFL as a charter member on 17th September 1920, making them one of two teams, along with the Chicago Bears, to still be in operation today. In 1960, the team would move to St. Louis, finally settling in their current home of Arizona in 1988. Up until 2006 their home stadium was in Tempe, Arizona at the Sun Devil Stadium on the Arizona State University campus and their current home is in Glendale, Arizona.

While still based in Chicago, the team won two NFL championships, the first in 1925 and then again in 1947. The Super Bowl wouldn’t be established for another two decades. They have only reached the Super Bowl in the 2008-2009 season, but they would not be victorious, losing to the Pittsburgh Steelers on 1st February 2009 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. [27-23]

What Is The NFL Draft?

We start with the NFL Draft, with the viewer getting a chance to step inside the draft room and behind the scenes of what the draft is like. The Arizona Cardinals are a team of underdogs with a mix of older players, players coming back from injury, some with long term health problems and players who had been kicked out of college. Unfortunately, the show doesn’t explain what the NFL Draft is, so let’s explore what that is, for those of us who know nothing about football.

The draft normally takes place every Spring during the off-season and consists of seven rounds of picks. In an attempt to promote balance, the team with the least wins from the previous year get the first pick every round, unless they have traded the draft pick to a different team in a trade, with the next team to pick being the next worst and so on. Once all of those teams that did not make the playoffs the previous season have drafted a player, the next group are those who made the playoffs. Also based on their win-loss record, the order is as follows, Eliminated in Wild Card round, Eliminated in Divisional round, Conference runners-up, Super Bowl runner-up and Super Bowl winner.

Then those who are drafted will join the team for training camp and the pre-season games, where the teams are narrowed down to a smaller roster for the season. To be eligible you have to have been out of high school for at least three years. Players do not have to have attended college, but the majority of drafted players have played collage football.

Who Do We Follow During This Season?

We follow 10 key people during the series, watching their highs and lows as part of the Arizona Cardinals.

All or Nothing, the Arizona Cardinals work towards the Super Bowl

Michael Bidwell is the owner of the Arizona Cardinals.

Bruce Arians is the head coach for the Arizona Cardinals and was mentored by the legendary Bear Bryant. He spent 8 seasons as an assistant coach, wide receivers  coach and an offensive coordinator; winning a Super Bowl with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2006 and 2009. He also worked for the Indianapolis Colts in 2012, becoming their head coach after taking over from Chuck Pagano when he had to take time away to fight leukaemia, taking them to the playoffs.

We focus on Patrick Peterson, a cornerback, who had been having issues last season performing at the level he was used to, as well as maintaining his weight and feeling sick due to his Type 2 Diabetes. During the course of the season Peterson becomes a dad on Thanksgiving night and we see him grapple with being a new first-time father while also balancing supporting his team.

Quarterback Carson Palmer returns from a knee injury which he sustained the previous year, resulting in team moral to be down and the Cardinals losing in the first round of playoffs.  He had torn his ACL in the first throw in the first round of playoffs 10 years previously.

Dwight Freeney Is a free agent looking to get signed after being let go from the Indianapolis Colts. He is an outside linebacker who is showing his worth by making good plays and proving that his career isn’t over.

Tyrann Mathieu was kicked out of his college team for a drug problem but the Cardinals took a chance on him despite receiving a lot of heat for it. Mathieu hasn’t disappointed them yet and is a part of a drug testing program. He plays safety and is classed as one of the top 5 players on the Cardinals. It is announced that Tyrann Mathieu sustained a torn ACL in the Arizona Cardinals vs Philadelphia Eagles game, meaning he will miss the rest of the season.

Mike Iupati is a Samoan American giant who was brought in as a guard, with the coaches and management team looking to him to influence the way the guard plays. He is injured during the Arizona Cardinals vs Seattle Seahawks game, but by the end of the game he has been cleared to keep playing and only has an injured shoulder.

We also follow Chris Johnson who is coming back from a gunshot wound sustained in a drive by shooting and is hoping to make it to the Super Bowl. David Johnson has gone from rookie to superstar being newly drafted and engaged. He finally makes the starting line-up during the Arizona Cardinals Vs St. Louis Rams game.

The 2015 Arizona Cardinals Season

We follow the whole season, from game one till the end of the Arizona Cardinals season.

All or Nothing, the Arizona Cardinals Logo

Arizona Cardinals Vs St. Louis Saints [/] – Andrea Ellington gets injured on the pitch, but David Johnson, a rookie running back, replaces him and brings something new to the table, scoring a touchdown helping the Cardinals win.

Arizona Cardinals Vs Chicago Bears [48-23] – The combinations of Chris Johnson, David Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald seems to be a winning formula of the Cardinals.

Arizona Cardinals Vs 49ers [47-7] – They may have won their first two games, but two wins doesn’t equate to Super Bowl success. The team must keep pushing and striving to be the best. Before this game takes place, we find out on Saturdays the families of the team and staff are invited to practice, to help boost moral and for the players to get a chance to spend time with their family as the NFL are long hours.

Arizona Cardinals Vs St. Louis Rams [Loss, 24-22] – They are the Cardinals division rivals. This game sees the team trailing with everything that could go wrong going wrong. You can’t win them all but you see the determination of the team. This leaves them at 3-1 going into their next game.

Arizona Cardinals Vs Detroit Lions [42 -17] – While out east, the owner takes the opportunity to coordinate with their scouts and visit a college game. Redding is a veteran who seems to always want to push himself and his team to get that big win. Alex Okafor, Kenny Demens and Chris Clements all leave the game with injuries, putting them down three linebackers.

Arizona Cardinals Vs Pittsburgh Steelers [Loss 25-13] – Before their game, the team head for West Virginia creating their own training camp. This game is a big one for Bruce Arians and other former Steelers players that now play for the Cardinals. With such a promising start to the game the Cardinals lose bringing their overall record to 4-2.

Arizona Cardinals Vs Baltimore Ravens [26 -18] – With dropping two games so far and a list of injured players the Cardinals are starting to struggle as a team. It’s now time for them to come together and show the world why they are one of the oldest teams in the NFL. Before they even begin to focus on getting to the Super Bowl, the Cardinals need to win their division. This game was really a showcase of the veterans brought in that hadn’t been used properly or given the chance elsewhere.

Arizona Cardinals Vs Cleveland Browns [34 – 20] – Tyrann Mathieu is known as the honey badger and even through he is tired he knows that the bye week is finally here. This is classed as a trap game, which is a game against a team that should be easy to beat but if you go in too confident you risk losing, and the Cardinals fall into the trap in the first two quarters. In the third and fourth  quarter they rally and win the game.

Arizona Cardinals Vs Seattle Seahawks [39 – 32] – The Arizona Cardinals have never been able to beat the Seattle Seahawks so the training for this game is intense, focusing on weights and fixing the teams mentality. By the end of the second quarter the Cardinals are in the lead, really bringing it to the Seahawks. Mike Iupati is taken out of the game due to injury; this rattles the team allowing for the Seahawks to take the lead. Even through the game was tight, the Arizona Cardinals finally beat the Seattle Seahawks.

Arizona Cardinals Vs Cincinnati Bengals [34 – 31] – They are going into this game needing a full week of prep as the Bengals are the best team. Carson Palmer used to play for the Cincinnati Bengals and there was a lot of drama leading to his retirement for a while and this will be the first time he will face his former team since joining the Cardinals. Rucker used to be a Bengal and rolls his ankle during the game, meaning he will possibly be out for a few games. Carson Palmer came alive during this game, helping his team take the lead in the third quarter. This game is intense with it being at a draw with 20 seconds to go, but the Cardinals succeed with a field goal.

Arizona Cardinals Vs 49ers [19 – 13] – Week 12 will see the Cardinals face off against the 49ers. Frostee Rucker is rehabbing his ankle injury, which is a high ankle sprain and this leaves the Cardinals in a position where they are weak defensively with a defensive tackle down. This means they have to look through their list of guys they have been interested in, also known as the Ready List, but couldn’t sign to come in as a replacement. The man they need is Red Bryant and he used to play for the Seattle Seahawks while also being a Super Bowl winner. Patrick Peterson isn’t at practice as he is waiting for the arrival of his child, but twelve hours later he is ready to put his team first. The score is close and just as they need to push their two star running backs are taken off injured, Chris Johnson and Andre Ellington. Yet again in lands on the shoulders of Carson Palmer to bring the team together and help them pull out the win.

Arizona Cardinals Vs St. Louis Rams [27 – 3] – Mondays are days off for the NFL but not for the Cardinals as they come in to watch tape and strategize moving forward, after Patrick Peterson called a team meeting. The Super Bowl is well within the Cardinals sights now and with two running backs injured this could be David Johnson’s moment to shine and help his team to the playoffs. He takes his moment and shows everyone why he deserves to be on the team and in the starting line-up.

Arizona Cardinals Vs Minnesota Vikings [23 – 20] – Offensive lineman are here to block but Fitzgerald is a wide receiver who will also block when needed and he is a true team player. It is a remarkably close game with the Cardinals finally getting the upper hand in the third quarter. David Johnson helps his team score, accepting a field goal before the Vikings equalize, but in the fourth quarter the Cardinals are leading by just 3 points with a spot in the playoff a huge possibility if they win this game.

Arizona Cardinals Vs Philadelphia Eagles [40 -17] – The team have now nabbed a spot in the playoffs and with their last game being on a Thursday it means the team get a long weekend, to rest up, refocus and help the community just before Christmas. But it isn’t just all work, sometimes the guys like some friendly competition and nothing is better than Trashcan Toss. And on to facing the Philadelphia Eagles, where if they win tonight, they will have for the first time won 12 games in a season. Carson Palmer injures his finger in the game, a dislocation, but he plays on, while David Johnson is in the starting line-up for the third time with the Cardinals getting three touchdowns in the game. Tyrann Mathieu is taken off the pitch injured, which is devastating for him.

Arizona Cardinals Vs Green Bay Packers [38 -8] – It is announced that Tyrann Mathieu sustained an injury in the Arizona Cardinals Vs Philadelphia Eagles game, as it turns out it is torn ACL and he will miss the rest of the season. They announce the 2016 Pro Bowlers, they are Justin Bethel, Chris Campbell, Larry Fitzgerald, Mike Iupati, Tyrann Mathieu, Carson Palmer, Patrick Peterson and Chris Johnson as an alternate. Dwight Freeney cooks for the team some classic Jamaican cuisine before teaching them all about his famous spin move. If the Cardinals win this game, they will win a first round bye in the playoffs. They have worked on upping their defence and working as a team to weaken the Packers strongest players. Dwight Freeney’s training and masterclass seems to have paid off for the team, bringing them together and leading in the first half. In the second half David Johnson scores his 13th touchdown for the Cardinals and even through Tyrann Mathieu is injured he is still pitch side to support and motivate his team. With this win they earn their playoff bye.

Arizona Cardinals Vs Seattle Seahawks [Loss 36-6] – The Arizona Cardinals at this time, in 2015, are one of four NFL teams experimenting with virtual reality helping in training.  Red Bryant is preparing to go against his old team, the Seattle Seahawks for the first time as a Cardinal while Cory Redding has never made it to a Super Bowl despite wearing five different helmets and he is hoping this is his year. The team doesn’t need the win but to lose to the Seahawks after a nine-game winning streak would shake the team to its core.

All or Nothing, the Arizona Cardinals 2015 Season is looking great

The Playoffs; Can They Go3-0?

Arizona Cardinals Vs Green Bay Packers [26 -20] – We now enter the playoffs, each game has more at stake because a lose will mean being out of the running for the Superbowl, the thing the Arizona Cardinals have dreamed of for so long. This game is definitely more intense than past games because they are all very aware of what a win will mean. The team is working hard and in the lead by the end of the first quarter. By the time we reach the third quarter the Packers have taken the lead. Floyd helps his team to take the lead, but things are still tight in this playoff game and it’s followed up by a field goal extending their lead. The game goes to overtime, and everything is on the line, Palmer and Fitzgerald work as a tight unit to get the advantage and go for the touchdown. Fitzgerald is the hero of this game.

Arizona Cardinals Vs Carolina Panthers [Loss, 49-15] – Neutralize Cam Newton is the game plan for the upcoming game against the Carolina Panthers, and they have history as he knocked the Cardinals out of the playoffs last season. With Super Bowl 50 just around the corner and facing a team with only one lose under their belt, the Arizona Cardinals need to pull out all the stops to win this one. Unfortunately, even though the Cardinals are a good team they are no match for the Carolina Panthers and Cam Newton. They lose their playoff game and don’t reach the Super Bowl.

Where Are They Now?

Michael Bidwill is still the owner of the Arizona Cardinals.

Bruce Arians is now the Head Coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, winning his third Super Bowl in 2021, his first as a head coach.

Patrick Peterson is now a Cornerback for the Minnesota Vikings, signing as a free agent in 2021.

David Johnson has been a running back with the Houston Texans since 2020 in the AFC South division.

Larry Fitzgerald is currently a free agent after leaving the Arizona Cardinals at the end of the 2020 season.

Chris Johnson retired from Professional Football on 24th April 2019, signing a one-day contract with the Tennessee Titans.

Carson Palmer retired from the NFL on 2nd January 2018, being inducted into the Arizona Cardinals Ring of Honor in 2019.

Dwight Freeney retired on 19th April 2018 after signing a one-day contract with the Indianapolis Colts.

Tyrann Mathieu AKA the Honey Badger plays Safety for the Kansas City Chiefs.

Mike Iupati went on to play Guard with the Seattle Seahawks before retiring on 22nd February 2021.

Hey Newbie, What Did You Think?

In conclusion, this is a fascinating look at the inner workings of the Arizona Cardinals, from owners to coaches to the players. I felt myself getting to know everyone and the team while also rooting for them to succeed in making it to the Super Bowl for the 2015-16 season. I’m a sucker for a plucky underdog story. I felt their heartbreak. I was sad when players were injured and I cheered when they won a game. I have somehow through doing this review decided that I want to know even more about football, to learn all I can and this year I will be watching my first Season from start to finish. I might be a newbie, but I am absolutely hooked.

Written by Amber McCrudden

Writer | Podcaster | Streamer | Photographer | Content Creator | Wrestling's Sweetheart

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