Chase Edmonds: Cardinals need to remember how they folded last season, embrace the urgency

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  • Chase Edmonds
    Chase Edmonds
    LiveTodayTomorrowvs--|
  • Kliff Kingsbury
    Kliff Kingsbury
    American football coach
Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray (1) is helped up off the turf by guard Josh Jones (79) during the second half against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field.
Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray (1) is helped up off the turf by guard Josh Jones (79) during the second half against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field.

Two days after the Cardinals’ stunning 30-12 defeat at the hands of the Detroit Lions, fans of the Red Sea and a growing number of Angry Bird skeptics alike were still searching for explanations and answers. That happens when a team is 10-3 and proceeds to lose back-to-back games, including a stinker on the road to a club that only had one win.

The reaction and response have been all over the map. Plausible theories such as the fact Arizona got away from the run game, its run defense is a mess and quarterback Kyler Murray is still trying to find his rhythm after extended time off are valid. Conspiracy takes like Kliff Kingsbury’s teams never finish strong, the Cardinals always seem to find a way to choke and they don’t play disciplined football even hold some merit.

In truth, it all boiled down to one fact.

“I just felt like we all were pressing,” Kingsbury said Tuesday during a Zoom conference call with reporters. “Got behind and instead of taking it a play at a time, we were looking for that 17-point play. It starts with me as a play caller and everybody kind of fell in line. That’s not how you play.

“You’re going to have games where it doesn’t start off well and you’ve got to battle your way out. We didn’t do a good job adjusting to that and Detroit did a great job and found a way to beat us.”

Running back Chase Edmonds, who returned to the lineup Sunday after missing four straight games with a high ankle sprain, said that was the entire problem. The Cardinals were pressing way too much and it took them out of their element completely.

“I do feel that,” Edmonds said Tuesday. “It started with the first time we had the ball. Detroit had like a nine-minute drive. We get the ball back and we do a three and out. That already kind of gets you a little more antsy just because it’s like, ‘Damn, we finally get in the field and don’t do nothing with it?’

“I think the No.1 thing for us to avoid that is try to just stay on schedule. Even if we don’t stay on schedule, we’ve got to stick to our game plan. Sometimes, I feel guys go out there and just start pressing. You start looking at the scoreboard like, ‘Damn, we’re down 10-0 to the Detroit Lions. What’s going on?’ That shouldn’t be the case.”

The solution, Edmonds said, is finding a way to immediately correct what isn’t working, re-establish the game plan and regain their identity. If the Cardinals had just focused on chipping away at the Lions, building some momentum, they could have left Ford Field with a victory and a playoff berth in tow.

Now, sitting at 10-4 and dropping to the No.4 playoff seed in the NFC, the Cardinals could be on the verge of a major collapse if they lose Saturday night to the visiting Indianapolis Colts (8-6), who have won five of their past six games.

So how do the Cardinals go about the business of having a huge sense of urgency without getting bogged down if they start pressing again and fall behind early to the Colts on Christmas?

“I can’t answer for everyone else. I can answer for myself,” Edmonds said. “I think a lot about last year and I think that when you look at mistakes in your life or you look over results in your life that you may have regret about and you try to just bypass it, that’s when it bites you in the ass again. And I’m not going to be that type of player.

“Last year we folded. I was the first person to say that. This year, I think the team needs to focus on that. We need to have more urgency just because it is a different situation but at the same time, we’ve been here before. So, we know what we’ve done wrong.”

Edmonds went on to say that some uncomfortable conversations will have to be held – just like they were a year ago when Arizona got off to a 6-3 start only to drop five of their final seven and just miss out on the playoffs.

Arizona Cardinals running back Chase Edmonds (2) is tackled by Green Bay Packers linebacker Krys Barnes (51) after a catch during the third quarter in Glendale, Ariz. Oct. 28, 2021.
Arizona Cardinals running back Chase Edmonds (2) is tackled by Green Bay Packers linebacker Krys Barnes (51) after a catch during the third quarter in Glendale, Ariz. Oct. 28, 2021.

“Whether it was uncomfortable situations in meeting rooms, uncomfortable situations between player to player in the locker room, it doesn’t matter,” Edmonds said. “It needs to get addressed. Guys need to look themselves in the mirror, need to come out and play better football, hold yourself accountable and embrace the pressure.

“I know I’m embracing the pressure. I can’t wait to get out there Saturday. It’s going to be playoff football atmosphere. That’s something I’ve always lived for and that’s something I’ve always dreamed for so I’m up to the challenge. I know there’s some guys in that locker room who will be up for the challenge with me. So, it’s just about getting everybody to right the ship in the right way and looking forward to embracing this challenge on Saturday.”

Colts run game will test Arizona

The biggest challenge they’ll face is trying to find a way to slow down running back Jonathan Taylor, who leads the NFL with 1,518 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns and could end up being the first running back to win league Most Valuable Player honors since Adrian Peterson in 2012.

It’s not like the Cardinals have had a ton of success at stopping the run, either. Their rush defense ranks 17th, allowing 112.8 yards per game. And after they meet Taylor and the Colts, they travel to Dallas to face Ezekiel Elliott and the Cowboys.

“In this league, week in and week out, teams are going to exploit your weaknesses and right now that’s one of our weaknesses,” Cardinals defensive tackle Rashard Lawrence said. “We have to continue to make it dark for the running backs each and every game and pay attention to the details.”

Taylor represents a problem the Cardinals haven’t really seen since perhaps going against the Vikings’ Delvin Cook back in Week 2.

“He’s unique because man, he’s fast,” Lawrence said of Taylor. “He can just take it for 70, 80 yards. We’ve seen so many different styles of running backs, but rarely do you see a running back that strong with footwork like that and also the breakaway speed. He’s a special player.

“We’ve played a lot of great running backs, but I think he’s at the top of the list for sure.”

Notes

Kingsbury said center Rodney Hudson remains in COVID-19 protocol and as of Tuesday, there was no indication about his availability against the Colts.

“We’ll see how those numbers move throughout the week, but I’m not sure if he’ll be back or not.”

Additionally, Kingsbury said defensive tackle Jordan Phillips (knee) and wide receiver Rondale Moore (ankle) are day to day and likely won’t be doing much until later in the week, if they are able.

—The team signed linebacker Joe Walker to the active roster from the practice squad and released tight end David Wells. Linebacker Nate Hall, meanwhile, was re-signed to the practice squad.

Injury report

The Cardinals held a walk-through on Tuesday so the injury report was based on estimations if the team had practiced.

Those who wouldn’t have practiced Phillips and Moore along with running back James Conner (heel) and linebacker Isaiah Simmons (shoulder). Tight end Zach Ertz (hamstring), guard/center Max Garcia (knee), linebacker Markus Golden (knee), defensive tackle Zach Kerr (ribs) and receiver Antoine Wesley (ankle).

For the Colts, center Ryan Kelly (personal), safety Andrew Sandejo (concussion) and cornerback Rock Ya-Sin (illness) did not practice.

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: Cardinals need to embrace the sense of urgency

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