Chase Edmonds: Cardinals need leaders to step up and take charge to end three-game slide

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The Cardinals keep searching for answers to help them end their three-game slide but running back Chase Edmonds thinks he knows the solution to their problems. He said it immediately after the team’s 22-16 loss to the visiting Colts on Saturday night.

“I think starting with the leaders,” Edmonds said. “The leaders have got to lead and if you want to follow you’ve got to follow. Right now, we’ve just got to find a way to win a football game.”

Edmonds and the Cardinals, who have lost five of their last eight games after a 7-0 start, have seen this sort of second-half slide before. It happened just a year ago, when Edmonds said the team “folded.” Now it’s happening again and the same frustration levels have returned.

Dec 25, 2021; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Arizona Cardinals running back Chase Edmonds (2) runs with the ball against Indianapolis Colts linebacker E.J. Speed (45) in the first half at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rob Schumacher-Arizona Republic
Dec 25, 2021; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Arizona Cardinals running back Chase Edmonds (2) runs with the ball against Indianapolis Colts linebacker E.J. Speed (45) in the first half at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rob Schumacher-Arizona Republic

“It is. It is frustrating,” he said. “I’m trying to find the right words to say. It is frustrating right now and that’s why I say the leaders have got to lead. We brought in some of these veteran leaders and right now is the most pivotal time that we need them.

“I think going forward, guys have just got to get behind whoever’s leading, whoever’s doing it right and take one foot forward at a time. That’s really the mentality, man. It’s just one step at a time, one play at a time, one drive at a time and it will result in a win.”

The Cardinals welcomed back one of their leaders on Monday, a day after they officially clinched a playoff berth, when it was announced center Rodney Hudson had been activated from the Reserve/COVID-19 list.

He was forced to miss the past two games after testing positive for the virus.

“Rodney’s been huge for us,” coach Kliff Kingsbury said Monday during a video conference call with reporters. “When you look at the game that he’s played in, we’ve played really well, offensively. He’s the security blanket for all of us, really, the coaching staff and the O-line and the skill position players. He’s kind of the glue that’s made it all stick together, so it’s a big deal to get him back.

“We’ll ease him back the next few days, try to get his conditioning going, make sure he feels up to speed and hopefully by game day he’s ready to roll.”

Unfortunately for the Cardinals, outside linebacker Markus Golden has tested positive for COVID, per NFL Media’s Tom Pelissero, putting his availability in doubt.

Hudson’s return couldn’t come at a better time considering the Cardinals (10-5) face a huge challenge this Sunday against the Cowboys (11-4) at AT&T Stadium. Dallas has won four straight games, clinched the NFC East title and is coming off a 56-14 shellacking of Washington.

“One of the most talented rosters in the NFL, there’s no doubt,” Kingsbury said. “(Coordinator) Dan Quinn has done a tremendous job with that defense. They’re flying around with a lot of energy, a lot of juice, turning the ball over. They look incredible. Offensively, they’re still rolling like they have been with (coordinator) Kellen (Moore) calling the plays. I think he’s done a great job with Dak (Prescott) and all those skill players they have. On special teams, they scored (Sunday) night as well.

“So, they’re a very complete team, they’ve hit their stride right now and it will be a huge challenge for us.”

If there’s any truth behind Edmonds’ logic that the Cardinals’ leaders need to step up and take control of the situation, then now would be a good time for it to happen. Arizona can still improve on its No.5 playoff seed and the NFC West is still there to claim, though it won’t be easy.

For that to happen, the team must cut way back on its penalties, rediscover its magic on offense, tighten things up on defense across the board and start playing complimentary football again. In short, the Cardinals need to start playing like a playoff team and cut back on all the horrible mistakes they keep making.

Pro Bowl safety Budda Baker was asked after the Colts’ game if it’s time he and some of the other veteran players start barking at the rest of the team.

“I wouldn’t say really ‘bark’ because at the end of the day we always preach that we’re still a family. There’s been times where guys are barking and that’s just not the way to go,” he said. “We definitely have to understand the things that guys are messing up on and if you continue to mess up on the same thing, if it’s the same person, of course you’re going to get barked at.

“But we preach we’re a family and we’ve got to stick together. If can stick together, we know good things are going to happen. … We’re definitely going to hold each other accountable, but it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it. Guys just got to understand that, and we know that.”

It starts in practice, like always, and that will continue to be the point of emphasis for Kingsbury.

“As of late, obviously, we haven’t played as well as we would have liked and we just talked about how we need to treat each practice rep like a game rep,” he said. “Don’t let things slide. Don’t say, ‘Hey coach, I would have got it right on Sunday.’ We’re way too far into this deal to be falling back into any habits like that. That’s what we’ve got to do – it starts on the practice field – and it’s got to be able to carry over to game day and we’ve got a lot of work to do this week.”

If there’s going to be any barking going on, by the way, don’t think some of the yapping isn’t going to be coming from Kingsbury himself. After all, he is the head coach and his players’ performance is a direct reflection on him.

“Yeah, I’m pretty engaged with everybody on our team,” Kingsbury said. “If I see something or someone that I think can help get a message out or needs to improve individually, we definitely have those conversations. It’s a plus to have the veterans we have policing that locker room, but obviously the coaches still have a big impact when it comes to having those conversations.”

Notes

Kingsbury said running back James Conner (heel), wide receiver Rondale Moore (ankle) and defensive lineman Jordan Phillips (knee) are all day to day and he won’t know more about their status until Wednesday when the Cardinals return to the practice field.

Cornerback Marco Wilson, who left Saturday’s game with a shoulder injury, will also be re-evaluated on Wednesday, according to Kingsbury. Punter Andy Lee, meanwhile, remains on the Reserve/COVID-19 list, but Kingsbury added, “We’re hoping he can test out at some point and feel good enough to play.”

Kingsbury wouldn’t say if he’s considering a change at right guard, where Josh Jones was flagged three times for false starts against the Colts. If Hudson is able to play, Max Garcia could slide over from center to take over for Jones.

“We’ll see how Rodney feels and go from there,” Kingsbury said. “I’m not exactly sure what that lineup is going to look like and really won’t know until we see the status of Rodney.”

• The Cardinals re-signed defensive tackle Matt Dickerson to the practice squad. He was on the practice squad prior to getting released on Nov. 15. He played 18 games the past three season for the Titans.

• The team worked out and reportedly signed veteran cornerback Bashaud Breeland on Monday, per Josina Anderson of CBS Sports. He was cut by the Vikings on Dec. 18 after starting 13 games and collecting 63 tackles with two interceptions and two pass breakups.

Have an opinion on the Arizona Cardinals? Reach McManaman at bob.mcmanaman@arizonarepublic.com and follow him on Twitter @azbobbymac. Listen to him live on Fox Sports 910-AM every Tuesday afternoon at 3:30 on Calling All Sports with Roc and Manuch.

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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Chase Edmonds said it's time for the Cardinals' leaders to step up