All-Time Teams: Arizona Cardinals



Introduction

In my endless research of all things football and through my passion for the history of the NFL, I have decided to try and compile an All-Time Team for all 32 current NFL franchises. By All-Time Team I mean a starting roster compiled of the very best players to ever put on each franchise’s jersey. I will be starting in alphabetical order by current franchise location, so Arizona Cardinals all the way to The Washington Football Team, with the goal of releasing one to two All-Time teams a week for the duration of the current NFL season. This is meant to be fun and cause some debate and is based on my opinion after all my research and deep dives into each franchise’s history. Of course, not everyone will agree with who I chose, and I’d love to hear from anyone who agrees or disagrees, but first, let’s lay out some ground rules for how I came up with each team.


1. Each team roster will consist of the following:

Offense - 1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 TE, 2 OT, 2 OG, 1 C

Defense - 2 DE, 2 DT, 3 LB, 2 CB, 2 S

Special Teams - 1 K, 1 P, 1 Returner

Coach - 1 Head Coach


2. I only considered an individual’s stats and contributions with each specific franchise. For example, Peyton Manning’s years with the Broncos were not considered when deciding on the starting QB of the Colts All-Time Team. As a result, the stats and awards listed with each individual player are only those that were achieved with that specific franchise.


3. A player cannot represent two teams as the starter. Players who spent time with more than one team were considered for the franchise they spent the most time with or had the most impact on. This rule led to some interesting scenarios that I will discuss in detail with each specific article to try and clear up any confusion.


4. A player’s stats and impact were considered in context with their era. This won’t simply be a listing of who passed or ran for the most yards in franchise history.


5. All stats are from Pro-Football-Reference and through the 2021 season. I will also be counting sacks from 1960, though the NFL doesn't officially count sacks until 1982.


6. Players in the "Honorable Mentions" section are ordered by year. It's not an indication of where I believe they rank in franchise history.


Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get to it!

Arizona Cardinals All-Time Team


Franchise Information

First Season: 1920

  1. Chicago Cardinals (1920-1943)

  2. Chi/Pitt Cards/Steelers (1944)

  3. Chicago Cardinals (1945-1959)

  4. St. Louis Cardinals (1960-1987)

  5. Phoenix Cardinals (1988-1993)

  6. Arizona Cardinals (1994-Present)

Record: 577-777-41 (42.61 W-L%)

Playoff Record: 7-10

Super Bowls Won: 0 (Lost in 2008)

Pre-Super Bowl Championships Won: 2 (1925 and 1947) (Lost in 1948)

Passing Leader: Jim Hart 2,590/5,069 | 34,639 Yds | 209 TD

Rushing Leader: Ottis Anderson 1,858 Att | 7,999 Yds | 46 TD

Receiving Leader: Larry Fitzgerald 1,432 Rec | 17,492 Yds | 121 TD

Sack Leader: Chandler Jones 71.5 Sk

Interception Leader: Larry Wilson 52 Int

Scoring Leader: Jim Bakken 1,380 points

Winningest Coach: Bruce Arians 49-30-1


QB: Jim Hart (1966-1983)

Record: 87-88-5 |51.1 Cmp% | 34,639 Yds | 209 TD | 247 Int | 4x Pro-Bowl (74, 75, 76, 77)


Hart is easily the longest tenured QB in Cardinals history, starting 180 of 199 games. He is the franchise leader in yards and touchdowns by a wide margin. Hart may not have had as much post season success as some other quarterbacks such as Kurt Warner or Paddy Driscoll, but his longevity outweighs Kurt Warner’s late career stint and Paddy Driscoll played in an era when the quarterback position was unrecognizable compared to what it is today. The height of his success was three straight 10+ win seasons and three straight playoff appearances from 1974-1976 along with four straight Pro-Bowl appearances from 1974-1977. At retirement, Hart ranked third in passing yards and 10th in passing TDs in NFL history. Hart may not have the star power that some other All-Time team's quarterbacks have but he is a solid starter who led the team for over a decade.


Honorable Mentions

  1. Paddy Driscoll (1920-1925) | 41-18-6 | 13 Rush TD | 4x All-Pro (20, 22, 23, 25) | 1925 NFL Champion | Hall of Fame All-1920s Team | Hall of Fame Class 1965

  2. Paul Christmann (1945-1948) | 33-23-1 | 44.7 Cmp% | 6,749 Yds | 51 TD| 69 Int | 7 Rush TD | 1947 NFL Champion | 1948 NFL Championship Appearance

  3. Charley Johnson (1961-1969) | 36-28-5 | 50.3 Cmp% | 14,928 Yds | 108 TD | 110 Int | Led League Cmp 1964 (223) | Led League Pass Yds 1964 (3,045) | Led League Yds/G 1964 (217.5) | 520 Rush Yds | 10 Rush TD | 1x Pro-Bowl (63)

  4. Neil Lomax (1981-1988) | 47-52-2 | 57.6 Cmp% | 22,771 Yds | 136 TD | 90 Int | Led League Cmp 1987 (275) | Led League Yds 1987 (3,387) | 916 Rush Yds | 10 Rush TD | 2x PB (84, 87)

  5. Kurt Warner (2005-2009) | 27-30 | 65.1 Cmp% | 15,843 Yds | 100 TD | 59 Int | NFC Champion 2008 | 1x PB (08) | 2008 Walter Payton Man of the Year | Hall of Fame Class 2017

  6. Carson Palmer (2013-2017) | Record: 38-21-1 | 62.6 Cmp% | 16,782 Yds | 105 TD | 57 Int | 102 Rush Yds | 1 Rush TD | Led League in Yds/A 2015 (8.7) | 1x Pro-Bowl (15)

  7. Kyler Murray (2019-Present) | Record: 22-23-1 | 66.9 Cmp% | 11,480 Yds | 70 TD | 34 Int | 1,786 Rush Yds | 20 Rush TD | 2x Pro-Bowl (20, 21) | 2019 Offensive Rookie of the Year


RB: Ottis Anderson (1979-1986)

4.3 Yds/A | 7,999 Yds | 46 TD | 299 Rec | 2,496 Rec Yds | 5 rec TD | 2x Pro-Bowl (79, 80) | 1x All-Pro (79) | 1979 Offensive Rookie of the Year


Ottis Anderson is one of the more underrated players in NFL history. He ran for more than 1,000 yards in five of his eight seasons with the Cardinals and his best season was his first, where he ran for over 1,600 yards, eight touchdowns and won Rookie of the Year. Anderson is without a doubt the most productive back in Cardinal's history as his 7,999 yards and 46 touchdowns rushing are still the most ever, even after over 30 years since he last put on a Cardinals uniform. It's not likely that his career numbers will be beat by another Cardinals running back for a long time and he deserves more love from Hall of Fame voters.


RB: Ollie Matson (1952-1958)

4.4 Yds/A | 3,337 Yds | 24 TD | 130 Rec | 2,150 Rec Yds | 16 Rec TD | 6x Pro-Bowl (52, 54, 55, 56, 57, 58) | 5x All-Pro (52, 54, 55, 56, 57) | Hall of Fame All-1950s Team | Hall of Fame Class 1972


Ollie Matson tends to be forgotten when talking about Hall of Fame running backs in NFL history. He was a precursor to the all-purpose backs that we've come to expect in today's NFL. He totaled over 1,000 yards from scrimmage in three seasons with the Cardinals and let's not forget that the regular season was only 12 games long at that time. His best season rushing was 1956 where he ran for 924 yards and five touchdowns, while his best marks through the air were 611 yards and three touchdowns in 1954. Matson was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1972. He also took home the bronze medal in the 400m and the silver medal in the 4x400m at the 1952 Olympics, so he had SPEED! Arguments can be made for Ernie Nevers and Charley Trippi to be starters, but Nevers only played for the Cardinals for three seasons and Trippi's best seasons weren't as impressive as Matson's and Anderson's.


Honorable Mentions

  1. Ernie Nevers (1929-1931) | 26 TD | 3x All-Pro (29, 30, 31) | Hall of Fame All-1920s Team | Hall of Fame Class 1963

  2. Marshall Goldberg (1939-1943, 1946-1948) | 3.5 Yds/A | 1,644 Yds | 11 TD | 60 Rec | 775 Rec Yds | 5 Rec TD | 1x Pro-Bowl (41)

  3. Elmer Angsman (1946-1952) | 4.3 Yds/A | 2,908 Yds | 27 TD | 41 Rec | 654 Rec Yds | 5 Rec TD | 1x Pro-Bowl (50)

  4. Pat Harder (1946-1950) | 4.3 Yds/A | 2,371 Yds | 25 TD | 60 Rec | 510 Rec Yds | 2 Rec TD | 1x Pro-Bowl (50) | 1948 MVP | Hall of Fame All-1940s Team

  5. Charley Trippi (1947-1955) | 5.1 Yds/A | 3,506 Yds | 23 TD | Led League Yds/A 1945 (5.4) |130 Rec | 1,321 Rec Yds | 11 Rec TD | 2x Pro-Bowl (52, 53) | 1x All-Pro (48) | Hall of Fame All-1940s Team | Hall of Fame Class 1968

  6. Johnny Olszewski (1953-1957) | 3.6 Yds/A | 1,933 Yds | 10 TD | 62 Rec | 598 Rec Yds | 2 Rec TD | 2x Pro-Bowl (53, 55)

  7. John David Crow (1958-1964) | 4.4 Yds/A | 3,498 Yds | 33 TD | Led League Yds/A 1960 (5.9) | 138 Rec | 1,961 Rec Yds | 17 Rec TD | Led League YScm 1960 (1,533) | 3x Pro-Bowl (59, 60, 62) | Hall of Fame All-1960s Team

  8. Johnny Roland (1966-1972) | 3.8 Yds/A | 3,608 Yds | 27 TD | 131 Rec | 1,240 Rec Yds | 5 Rec TD | 2x Pro-Bowl (66, 67) | 1966 Offensive Rookie of the Year

  9. Jim Otis (1973-1978) | 3.8 Yds/A | 3,863 Yds | 19 TD | 45 Rec | 268 Rec Yds | 1 Rec TD | 1x Pro-Bowl (75)

  10. Terry Metcalf (1973-1977) | 4.6 Yds/A | 3,438 Yds | 24 TD | 197 Rec | 1,862 Rec Yds | 9 Rec TD | 3x Pro-Bowl (74, 75, 77)

  11. Wayne Morris (1976-1983) | 3.8 YDs/A | 3,375 Yds | 37 TD | 151 Rec | 1,170 Rec Yds | 5 Rec TD

  12. Stump Mitchell (1981-1989) | 4.7 Yds/A | 4,649 Yds | 32 TD | Led League Yds/A 1985 (5.5) | 209 Rec | 1,955 Rec Yds | 9 Rec TD

  13. Earl Ferrell (1982-1989) | 4.3 Yds/A | 2,950 Yds | 24 TD | 186 Rec | 1,682 Rec Yds | 8 Rec TD

  14. Larry Centers (1990-1998) | 3.4 Yds/A | 1,736 Yds | 10 TD | 535 Rec | 4,539 Rec Yds | 19 Rec TD | 2x Pro-Bowl (95, 96) | 1x All-Pro (96)

  15. David Johnson (2015-2019) | 4.0 Yds/A | 3,128 Yds | 33 TD | 208 Rec | 2,219 Rec Yds | 15 Rec tds | Led League YScm 2016 (2,118) | Led League RRTD 2016 (20) | 1x Pro-Bowl (16) | 1x All-Pro (16)

WR: Larry Fitzgerald (2004-2020)

1,432 Rec | 17,492 Yds | 121 TD | Led League Rec 2005, 2016 (103, 107) | Led League TD 2008, 2009 (12, 13) | 11x Pro-Bowl (05, 07, 08, 09, 10, 11, 12, 13, 15, 16, 17) | 1x All-Pro (08) | 2016 Walter Payton Man of the Year | Hall of Fame All-2010s Team


This was the easiest decision to make for the whole team. Nobody has played more games in a cardinal's uniform than Larry Fitzgerald who's played in whopping 263 games. He's a legend and will no doubt be a first ballot hall of famer. He has been a model for consistency his whole career. Fitzgerald posted nine 1,000-yard seasons, five 100+ catch seasons and five 10+ touchdown seasons. He went to an absurd 11 Pro-Bowls in 17 seasons with Arizona. Larry is number two all-time in receptions and yards, along with being sixth in touchdowns. He unfortunately didn't play on a lot of winning teams, but when they did make the playoffs, Larry shined. In Arizona's Super Bowl run in 2008, he had over 100 yards and at least one touchdown in all four games, including 127 yards and two touchdowns in the Super Bowl.


WR: Anquan Boldin (2003-2009)