Cutting to the Chase:
During exit interviews last season, Cardinals’ Pro Bowl safety and defensive captain Budda Baker put his thoughts about the team’s woes down the stretch very succinctly when he said, “Some people weren’t doing their jobs.”
Meanwhile on the other side of the clubhouse, offensive captain, tackle D.J. Humphries, when asked about the negativity in the press regarding the Cardinals’ coaches stated, “If you are against them, then you are against us.”
In many ways, Budda’s and D.J.’s comments set the tone for the Cardinals’ off-season, because Michael Bidwill and Steve Keim made a concerted effort to re-define the veteran leadership and improve the team’s physicality by acquiring perennial All-Pros DE J.J. Watt and C Rodney Hudson, in addition to signing and re-signing high effort players who bring physical elements to their games.
What Budda and D.J. showed at the bitter end of last seasons was that the Cardinals’ young leadership is in superb shape, particularly in their senses of honesty about where the team was and where it needs to go.
Budda’s and D.J.’s honesty was bolstered yesterday on the first day of training camp by RB Chase Edmonds, who, when asked about the team’s poor finish last season, summed it up in two simple words: “We folded.”
Now that’s ownership, isn’t it?
When asked about vaccinations, Chase said, “I chose to get mine for my own personal reasons. I kind of just leave it at that.”
As for this year’s focus, Chase cut to the chase again:
“We know what we have to do, we know the expectations that we have for ourselves first and foremost and that’s kind of what we just got to go with. Day by day and just getting better.”
One Foot Out the Door:
As Cardinals’ fans witnessed the last 2 1⁄2 years after All-Pro defensive captain CB Patrick Peterson asked the team to trade him at the 2018 trading deadline, once a player makes a trade request, he essentially has one foot out the door —- and typically whenever that happens, it does not end well for the player or the team.
Now that Peterson finally has both feet out the door he’s been recently ripping Steve Keim, the GM who said he would go pick up Peterson at midnight when his six week PED and coverup suspension expired and the same GM who reportedly turned down the Eagles’ offer of a 1st round pick and WR Nelson Agholor for Peterson. The gist of Peterson’s attack on Keim was that the GM doesn’t take care of his defensive stars by rewarded them with the kind of lucrative contract extensions he gives to the team’s offensive stars.
Simple research can prove that Peterson’s claim is patently false.
Moving on from Peterson, the Cardinals entered camp yesterday with relative uncertainty about the status of three veteran captains from last year’s team: DE Chandler Jones, LB Jordan Hicks and WR Larry Fitzgerald.
Jones and Hicks have requested trades and, as Kliff Kingsbury said yesterday, “the ball is in Larry’s court” as to whether Fitz decides to return for an 18th season.
There are strong reasons to acknowledge that all three players, Jones, Hicks and Fitzgerald bear a sense of animosity toward the Cardinals as to the way they have been treated. In Jones’ case, he has not been offered the kind of lucrative contract extension he believes he deserves.
In Hicks’ case, he agreed to a pay cut and then was told that rookie 1st round pick Zaven Collins was drafted to be his successor at MIKE ILB. He and his agent were give permission to find a trade partner, but to date that has mot materialized.
In Fitz’s case, he said there were teammates last year whom he didn’t get along with and because of a sharp decrease in targets, Fitz never felt comfortable with his new role as the 4th fiddle in the team’s string section at receiver (behind Hopkins, Kirk and Edmonds).
When asked about these players yesterday, Kliff Kingsbury said that he had a good conversation with Chandler and that Chandler is “jovial” and “in great shape” and that the team missed his leadership last year.
Kingsbury said that Jordan is “here to compete and to show us what he’s got.”
And, Kingsbury said that Larry is “one of the best players of all-time, There is a spot open for Larry if he wants it,” but, “we feel like we got great depth in that group regardless. We’ll have a plan here either way.”
Anyone who knows what it it like to have one foot out the door while bearing animosity for his/her employer, it almost always doesn’t end well for all parties. It is tough enough to have to go through the daily grind of a now 17 game NFL season —- such that the grind can become intolerable when a player feel undervalued.
One can say, well, players in their position should be highly motivated to earn their next contract. Yes, but that kind of motivation is difficult to sustain day in and day out through the 21 week grind and the constant pressure to deliver. Look at Patrick Peterson’s performance last year in the last year of his contract.
Chandler Jones, Jordan Hicks and Larry Fitzgerald might be strong and resilient enough to make the most of their situations, but the odds do not weight heavily in their favor.
Both Feet In:
On the other side of the coin, it is a breath of fresh air to see how excited veterans like Markus Golden and Kelvin Beachum are to be in Arizona and to be in a position to compete for a championship.
What a feel-good interview this is with Markus Golden. At the 1:50 mark Markus explains why he loves playing for the Cardinals:
On the other side of the ball, Kelvin Beachum is not only delighted to be playing for the Cardinals but to be in a position to grow as a player and person:
Beach asks, “How do I get better?”
“The great ones always listen.” Hubie Brown always says on his experience as a young assistant coach of the Bucks, working with the legendary Kareem Abdul Jabbar.
The common theme, as Markus Golden iterates at the 6:50 mark of his interview: “I want to get better every day and help the Arizona Cardinals win a Super Bowl. That is my goal.”