Cardinals have goals to reach in front of former coach Bruce Arians
TEMPE, Ariz. — Quarterback Josh Rosen spent the bye week celebrating Halloween for the first time he can remember.
This weekend in Arizona’s visit to Kansas City, the rookie quarterback will get to meet a man he dubbed two weeks ago as a “ghostly legend.” Rosen will meet the living, breathing and, quite possibly, cursing coach in person during production meetings.
Arians will call the Cardinals-Chiefs game for CBS on Sunday, and it’ll be his first time sitting down to watch his former team live since retiring since the end of last season.
The former coach’s ghostliness has been hanging around the walls of Arizona’s Tempe training facility since he retired following the end of 2017.
Well, if ghosts could text.
“He texted me as soon as he knew he had the game,” said Cardinals offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich, who is set to call his second game in front of the man he credits for bringing him into the coaching ranks two seasons ago.
“We talk all the time. It’ll be good to see him — I haven’t seen him in a while. It’d be good to give him a hug, just to see him and talk to him in person.”
Larry Fitzgerald is of course another key figure who — even if he’s not thinking about it — can cross a milestone in front of Arians Sunday against the Chiefs.
He’s 33 receiving yards away from surpassing Terrell Owens’ 15,934 career yards for second on the NFL’s all-time list.
“I talk to him at least once a week,” Fitzgerald said of Arians. “Obviously when you’ve done what he did here, 50 wins over five years, he developed some strong relationships with guys and, you know, he was great to work for.”
The Cardinals hope Arians’ teachings rubbed off on Leftwich. The early returns looked promising in a 18-15 win over the San Francisco 49ers heading into the bye with running back David Johnson tallying 100 yards from scrimmage and Fitzgerald breaking out for the first time in 2018, catching eight balls for 102 yards, a touchdown and a two-point conversion.
Leftwich has had two weeks since his midseason debut as offensive coordinator to tweak the offense to his liking.
He’s been careful to balance any changes with keeping his players in a comfortable spot.
“I’ll be the guy that’s suffering right now until we can get it all — don’t let the team suffer,” he said. “Just put these guys in position. I’ll be fine. I’ve had time to get certain things the way I would like it. There’s still a lot more (to do). I just can’t go cold-turkey on these guys and just completely switch up.”
Asked what Arians texted Leftwich after the offensive coordinator’s team scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns for a rally and win over San Francisco two weeks ago, Leftwich smiled.
“Can’t say it on TV. He hasn’t changed from that standpoint, guys,” Leftwich said.
NOT LETTING IT GO
The Cardinals have let Patrick Peterson’s trade request heading into the San Francisco game go.
Word leaked of the star cornerback’s push to find a way out of Arizona before the trade deadline on the Monday before a Week 8 battle, but Peterson released a statement two days later to reaffirm his commitment to the team.
It’s clear Peterson’s teammates have accepted him with open arms since the chaotic week, and it’s shown by how they’ve treated him.
After Peterson interrupted Fitzgerald’s media scrum on Thursday, the receiver finished answering a question and then fired back at his teammate and golf partner.
“Pat, what’d you say? You wanted to be traded? I didn’t hear what you said over there,” Fitzgerald yelled. “Oh, OK, I thought that’s what I heard. It’s not Tuesday though.”