Corey Peters hopes Cardinals take the Von Miller approach (less publicly)
TEMPE, Ariz. — Promising victory and predicting that the Broncos would kick the Cardinals’ you-know-whats on Tuesday, Denver linebacker Von Miller spoke his mind.
Arizona players and coaches aren’t paying the statement much attention. The Broncos have lost four games in a row, and they know Miller’s proclamation was more about putting his own goals on his own team’s bulletin board.
It’s not going to be hung in the Cardinals’ locker room.
“If we need that to get us motivated to play a football game being 1-and-5 right now, we’re in trouble,” Arizona head coach Steve Wilks said Wednesday.
The Cardinals can only hope they can relate to Miller’s feeling that he allowed to be plastered in headlines heading into the Thursday Night Football game at State Farm Stadium. They are coming off a 1-5 defeat at the hands of the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday.
“Honestly, you know, everybody’s different, but I don’t really believe in bulletin board material,” Cardinals defensive tackle Corey Peters said. “I don’t know any player that goes into the game not thinking that way. I guess it is a little rare for people to openly speak that. I’m sure that’s how he feels. I would hope that’s how the guys in this locker room feel as well.
“Right now we’re both struggling. It’s important for us to get back on track during a short week.”
Last time out, Minnesota was relatively held in check by the Arizona defense — aside from a handful of explosive plays in the run game, surprising ones as the Vikings entered the Week 6 matchup with the second-worst rushing attack in the NFL.
Peters has been the steadiest of the Cardinals’ defensive players thus far. He has 21 tackles through six games, one fewer than he had in twice as many games last year.
He also has 2.0 sacks and a fumble recovery. The numbers matter little to the veteran who believes the top statistic for his individual success is the opponent’s rushing total.
So in the locker room, he’s the one attempting to teach a young defensive line consistency as the front seven has struggled with the discipline of staying in each players’ respective gaps.
“Some of the things that happen in the run game when he’s in there is four yards or less … when he’s not in the game, it goes up a little bit,” defensive coordinator Al Holcomb said of Peters.
“We give up five explosive runs (against the Vikings) and then the rest of the runs are minimal gains. Overall, Corey’s done a really good job and I’ve sensed more sense of urgency from the defense these last two days, because it’s getting to a point where we can’t live this way.”
The usually quiet Peters was one of the more vocal critics after Arizona’s loss in Minnesota. He called the mistakes “simple to figure out,” in the U.S. Bank Stadium locker room and Wednesday called the defensive performance “wildly inconsistent.”
Arizona can’t afford that against Denver. Like Cardinals offensive coordinator Mike McCoy, the Broncos have a man on a hot seat in head coach Vance Joseph, a good friend of Wilks and fellow defensive backs specialist.
Like Arizona, Denver has struggled with its free agent-signing at quarterback. Case Keenum, as with the Cardinals’ Sam Bradford, was signed away from the Vikings this offseason but has struggled by throwing seven touchdowns to eight interceptions, plus four fumbles.
The Broncos have remained a threat with a strong running back room of rookies Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman, plus third-year pro Devontae Booker. Throw in fullback Andy Janovich, and the ground game has been a plus for Denver, which leads the NFL at 5.3 yards per carry.
Peters, similarly to Miller but in his own way, has expressed his own frustration so far. It’s on a critical Week 7 game to turn things around.
“We’ve played well in spurts, we’ve created a lot of turnovers, we’ve scored on defense,” Peters said. “We can’t play the run well for most of the game and give up six or seven big plays. That’s really our focus this week, trying to be disciplined across the board, every play and we’ll see what happens.
“Everybody’s been put on notice.”