Fitz raises bar: 'We were not a good football team'

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. -- Larry Fitzgerald appears to be applying the sky-high standards he sets for himself to the Cardinals as a whole. The Pro Bowl receiver used the term "mediocre" to describe Arizona's record last season.

The comment followed a reporter's question asking Fitzgerald what coach Ken Whisenhunt said to the team Thursday night as players gathered for training camp. Quarterback Kurt Warner answered a similar question a bit later. I'll pass along their answers.

Fitzgerald: "Don't forget what happened last year, but use it as an example of how close we were able to get and the hard work that it took for us to get there. We need to start that early because last year we were not a good football team. Nine and seven, that's very mediocre. I mean, we feel as though we are a 10-win team and we need to go out there and accomplish that and show people that we can do it."

Warner: "I think his biggest message was really about the fact that the thing we have to overcome now is everybody saying we're a one-year wonder or the team that loses the Super Bowl, they're going to fail the next year, and the mindset that last year we weren't supposed to accomplish the things that we did because everybody said this about us and said that.

"And look what we did. We proved everybody wrong. That was his message going into this year. 'This is what everybody is saying, this is what everybody expects, but we know we can prove people wrong and accomplish it and exceed expectations and that is what we have to do this year.'"

Speaking to reporters after practice, Whisenhunt said there's a different feel at practice this summer. He senses players are more confident following the Super Bowl run. But he also agrees with Fitzgerald, to a degree, in that the Cardinals have much to improve.

Whisenhunt: "We haven't had sustained success. We were a 9-7 football team that won the divisoin and played our best football at the end of the year. We've got a lot to prove and I'm excited about our team doing that."

A question for NFC West fans: Would you take a 9-7 record for your team this season, or would you rather take your chances? I suspect a Rams fan might take 9-7. What about the others? The manner in which the Cardinals finished 9-7 -- after starting 7-3 -- didn't allow them to enjoy it as much, at least until the playoffs.