Vance Joseph: Cardinals defense ‘compliant’; Murphy coming along

Jun 4, 2019, 11:15 AM | Updated: 11:47 am
Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald hugs Denver Broncos head coach Vance Joseph prior ...
Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald hugs Denver Broncos head coach Vance Joseph prior to an NFL football game, Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
(AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

Over-teaching is a theme for the Arizona Cardinals defense during organized team activities.

Or maybe that carries too negative a connotation. Defensive coordinator Vance Joseph believes his players are picking up his terminology well and understanding the playbook even though he’s asking a lot of them.

Sometimes, he’s asking them to do too much.

“We have a very, very compliant group. These guys, if you ask them to chase the ball, they chase the ball. If you ask them to study, they study,” he told Bickley & Marotta Monday on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station. “We’ve put a bunch of defense in on purpose. We’ve had very, very few mistakes because guys study.

“You know, Jordan Hicks is a quarterback on defense,” Joseph added. “Haason Reddick has had a great offseason, and Chandler Jones has been a stud. Corey Peters has been here everyday, so he’s working hard.”

Reddick, who has played alongside Hicks as a dime linebacker, was one player asked to take on a workload perhaps beyond his physical abilities. He’s matched up with receivers as the Cardinals’ new offense often goes four wide.

Joseph won’t ask Reddick to necessarily do the same come the 2019 season, but pushing the third-year pro’s limits can build confidence. That Reddick is picking the defense up quickly during OTAs is the key, and Jones believes the coaching staff’s identity has sped up that learning curve.

“Everyone on our staff are tremendous teachers,” Jones said.

“(Joseph) does a good job of breaking things down and helping other people understand it from whatever position you are, from whatever string you are.”

Take rookie cornerback Byron Murphy as another example.

Arizona has overloaded him with information, beginning OTAs by teaching him cornerback, nickelback and even safety. But recently, the Cardinals — on the advice of cornerbacks coach Greg Williams — shrank Murphy’s responsibilities down to play only corner last week.

“The quickness came back, the play-making ability came back, the confidence came back,” Joseph said.

This week, the Cardinals handed Murphy nickel duties, as he could play there to start the season with Patrick Peterson suspended the first six weeks of the year.

“Just like a young quarterback, a young corner takes time,” Joseph said of Murphy, the rookie second-round pick. “If you don’t raise them right, they’re going to have some hard downs early and you can lose them early.

“We’re being very careful with him, because we know he’s got the goods. He’s got a bright future, but how fast we push him out there in the fire, we got to be careful, you know, make sure he’s ready for it.”

More generally, Joseph believes stretching the limits of his players’ minds and physical abilities will pay off down the line.

It’s then that scheme wrinkles and call-backs to the overloading during these OTAs can put the Cardinals a step ahead of the competition.

“We’ve put in a bunch of defense, and that’s (on) purpose because we want to be in Week 12 reinventing calls to win games,” Joseph said. “We want a bunch of bullets so we can work ’em and learn ’em, so when we get into the Week 14, 15 part of the season, we can pull from our library.

“It helps the players to stretch their brain now. In fall you shrink it down and it feels like first grade again.”

Life Changer Loans

Life Changer Loans

Arizona Cardinals

D.J. Humphries #74 of the Arizona Cardinals on the field during pregame warm-ups before the game ag...
Sam Graveline

Cardinals’ D.J. Humphries takes last spot in PFF’s 2022 top OT rankings

Fresh off an extension with the Cardinals, LT D.J. Humphries took the last spot in Pro Football Focus' top offensive tackle rankings.
1 day ago
Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers runs with the ball against Byron Murphy Jr. #7 of the Arizon...
Sam Graveline

Cardinals rank No. 30 on Football Outsiders’ under-25 talent list

The Cardinals head into the 2022 season lacking talent under the age of 25, coming in at No. 30 in Scott Spratt's rankings.
1 day ago
(L-R) Owner Jerry Jones of the Dallas Cowboys talks with owner Michael Bidwell of the Arizona Cardi...
Arizona Sports

Sportico ranks Cardinals No. 28 on list of most valuable NFL teams

The Arizona Cardinals ranked No. 28 in Sportico's franchise valuations at $3.165 billion, an 18% increase from 2021.
3 days ago
Arizona Cardinals WR Rondale Moore warms up ahead of practice Thursday, Jan. 13, 2022, in Tempe. (T...
Nikash Nath

Pro Football Focus: Rondale Moore is Cardinals’ most intriguing player

PFF's Ari Meirov went through all 32 NFL teams' rosters and selected one player from each team as their most "intriguing player."
2 days ago
Arizona Cardinals' Greg Dortch runs drills during the NFL football team's training camp at State Fa...
Tyler Drake

Cardinals notebook: Greg Dortch among Red & White practice standouts

Greg Dortch continues to impress over the course of training camp, with his most recent showing coming during the Red & White practice.
1 day ago
Arizona Cardinals DL Kingsley Keke looks on during OTAs on Monday, June 6, 2022, in Tempe. (Tyler D...
Arizona Sports

Arizona Cardinals DT Kingsley Keke placed in COVID-19 protocols

Arizona Cardinals defensive lineman Kingsley Keke has been placed in COVID-19 protocols, head coach Kliff Kingbury said at practice Saturday.
2 days ago
Vance Joseph: Cardinals defense ‘compliant’; Murphy coming along