Pre-game Thoughts vs. Arizona Cardinals
Sunday’s game presented an amazing opportunity for us to get back on track, and I am glad we were able to take advantage of it. I want to thank all of our 12’s for the awesome atmosphere on Sunday. Nothing compares to playing in front of you guys! Although this was not our best overall performance, we were still able to make the plays we needed in order to come out on top. This win gives us a lot of momentum heading into a tough contest against Arizona on Thursday.
Obviously, we took a step backwards with our ball security. Putting the ball on the ground 5 times is un-characteristic of our offense, so they have done a great job focusing on improving that this week. We are also excited to get Zach Miller back in the mix. He is a dangerous weapon in both the running and passing game and as a skilled veteran, he will give our offense more creativity with a two-tight end set. His return also strengthens our ability to give Russell more time in the pocket to get in rhythm with our receivers.
From a physical standpoint - turning around and playing again this quickly is a big challenge. Our coaching staff has done an incredible job re-structuring the practice schedule to aid in our recovery from Sunday’s game. When entering a shortened week of practice – there is no physical contact. Practices are run in our shells, jerseys, and shorts. As usual, there is a large focus on both game film and offensive/defensive tendencies. This lightened schedule has all of us feeling well recovered and ready to compete at a high level tomorrow night.
I am very happy with the improvements we have shown on the defensive side of the ball. The difference between Sunday’s game and our game against the Colts was night and day. We did an outstanding job of communicating coverage and tightening up passing windows. This game showed the level we are capable of playing at and that when we lock everything up, we’re real tough to deal with.
It is important that we carry this new level of communication into our Thursday night contest. Arizona has a dangerous passing game led by Carson Palmer, a seasoned veteran who is capable of picking apart any defense that gives him the opportunity to. We plan on playing controlled, fundamental football. When competing against a great receiving core, you have to play within yourself. The moment you try to do too much, you end up over-reacting to a route only to get burned. Assignment football is the key to a successful day at the office, and we plan on putting in a full day of work!
I am looking forward to going up against Larry Fitzgerald this week as well. Not only is he a great player, he is a great friend. Larry and I spent a lot of time together during the off-season, attending each other’s fundraising events. Larry has proven himself as one of the best receivers in the league. His competitive nature, amazing speed and sharp route running gives him the ability to take over a game. We have to do a skilled job of locking him down and limiting the opportunities for Carson to get Larry the ball.
While I have immense respect for Fitz, I have to put our personal relationship aside when we take the field. If there is one thing I have learned in my young career – it’s not to give in to Larry’s soft talk on the field. The moment you start answering his questions about your family or yourself – he has you. Larry loves to play mind games to soften you up and the minute that happens, you’re his! I have learned to keep my mouth shut when going up against him, and to not give in to his tricks!
I am excited for the matchup Thursday night. We are rested and ready to get after it! This game is going to take a team effort to walk away with the win. As a team, we know where we are trying to go and we realize that this game is an opportunity to get one step closer to our goal. We plan on going out and taking advantage of this opportunity!