Jordan Hicks: Cardinals’ win-now moves ‘mean a lot’
Jordan Hicks joined the Arizona Cardinals last offseason patient enough but trusting that positive changes would come after a three-win 2018 season and head-coaching change.
Now a full season in, and the leader of coordinator Vance Joseph’s defense believes the momentum has continued through the first few weeks of this offseason.
The DeAndre Hopkins trade will completely change the offense, Hicks said, while the defensive additions have filled needs across the front-seven.
“When you see moves like that, man, you realize the potential you have, you realize the excitement,” Hicks said Thursday in a video call. “I said it last year: The reason I came here was because you could tell the direction this team was going, you could tell where (GM) Steve (Keim) wanted to take it, where (head coach) Kliff (Kingsbury) wanted to take it, where the coaching staff wanted to take it.”
The Hopkins trade to start this offseason gave quarterback Kyler Murray a top target.
The receiver will stress defenses who must decide between calling for double-coverage, loading the box to stop re-signed running back Kenyan Drake or using spies on Murray to protect themselves against quarterback runs.
Hicks sees positives on his side of the ball, too. Adding tackle Jordan Phillips, outside linebacker Devon Kennard and inside linebacker De’Vondre Campbell will help a young backend.
“I think our front seven … probably improved tremendously,” Hicks said. “Anytime you get a high-profile D tackle, it makes your linebacker play that much better. Anytime somebody can rush on the other side of the top rusher in the league, it’s going to make your front seven that much better.
“When you get a pass rush, when you have somebody who can takes some pressure off Chandler (Jones) — couple guys who can take pressure off Chandler — it improves your ability to get after the quarterback. The corners, the safeties, the linebackers appreciate that in the pass game.”
Hicks sees “eerily similar” comparisons between the Cardinals and his former team, the Philadelphia Eagles. They made a quick turnaround and won a Super Bowl in 2018 behind second-year head coach Doug Pederson and second-year quarterback Carson Wentz — that is, before backup quarterback Nick Foles finished off the postseason run as Super Bowl MVP.
The excitement for Hicks is obviously tempered this offseason as the NFL considers how to go through with its April 23-25 draft. There is a growing likelihood rookie mini-camps and OTAs will be postponed, at least.
Hicks is currently living with his in-laws in Austin as he and his family were in-between moving when the coronavirus pushed people indoors.
The Cardinals have been sending returning players meal and workout plans as players attempt to stay in shape amid less-than-ideal circumstances; Hicks threw together a workout setup thanks to what his father in law had available.
Around binge-watching shows like The Good Doctor, Tiger King and Manifest, he’s spent time with his family and isn’t thinking too far ahead. The worry right now is about those less fortunate than him and those fighting the virus, Hicks said.
Meanwhile, Hicks remains upbeat there will be a season of building confidence for the Cardinals.
“There’s a lot of work that needs to be done between now and Game 1 and even half-way through the season,” he said, relating this team to the Eagles’ Super Bowl squad. “You don’t gain that confidence of knowing what’s going to happen until you’ve had a few games under your belt. We’re going to be a different team, we’ve got to find that identity. Making additions in the offseason, making big-time moves, showing that we’re trying to win now means a lot.
“It doesn’t just happen. You have to will it into existence.”