Cardinals’ 2020 finish gave LT D.J. Humphries ‘a different type of hunger’

Jul 7, 2021, 11:34 AM

D.J. Humphries (Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images)...

D.J. Humphries (Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images)

(Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images)

The Arizona Cardinals looked like a team destined for the playoffs early on in the 2020 season, rattling off five wins over their first seven games.

The early success proved to be unsustainable following the team’s bye week, however, as Arizona went 3-6 over its final nine games. An 18-7 loss to the Los Angeles Rams in the season finale would slam the door on any playoff hopes the Cardinals were holding onto.

The way the promising season came to a close was undoubtedly a tough time for left tackle D.J. Humphries, who sat and watched as an inactive rookie the last time the Cardinals made the playoffs in 2015. Since being named the starting left tackle in 2016, he’s yet to taste the postseason.

“You can’t win a Super Bowl if you can’t get in the playoffs,” Humphries told SiriusXM NFL Radio hosts Bruce Murray and Kirk Morrison on Tuesday. “Everybody wants to win a Super Bowl, but you have to get into the playoffs to win the Super Bowl. For me, that was definitely hard, us being the closest I’ve ever been to getting in and just knowing you just had to win one game and we couldn’t find way to do it.

“That was something that sent me into the offseason with a different type of hunger where I can’t quite say what we need to do as a team but I’m going to make sure that I’m prepared to put us in the position to go to the playoffs. Whatever my role is to get us a win, I’m going to make sure I’m doing that to the maximum of my ability.”

Like Humphries, the Cardinals attacked the offseason quite a bit differently than they have in years past, adding well-known veterans like center Rodney Hudson, defensive end J.J. Watt, cornerback Malcolm Butler and wide receiver A.J. Green to mesh with the influx of young talent on the team.

Through offseason workouts, Humphries has already seen the vets come in and step right into their new roles. And with the likes of Patrick Peterson off to Minnesota and Larry Fitzgerald a free agent, the new group of vets gives Humphries a fresh look on how to lead, while allowing the left tackle to be himself.

“I don’t like forcing anything. I don’t want to force myself into a role that I wouldn’t normally do,” Humphries said. “I like to naturally find my place. I don’t like to be the guy just yelling because someone needs to yell right now. That’s not me at all.”

Above all else, the addition of Hudson has Humphries thrilled with the direction of an offensive line that has improved year over year since the arrival of head coach Kliff Kingsbury.

After allowing 48 sacks in 2019, the Cardinals offensive line took a big step in 2020, trimming that number down to 27. Arizona’s total rushing touchdowns were fourth in the NFL (22), while its yards per game were seventh (139.8).

“Rodney’s one of those guys, right, wrong or indifferent, he’s gonna give us a call and put us in the right direction and we’re gonna roll with it,” Humphries said.

“He’s such a veteran, he’s so savvy at understanding football, aside from learning our scheme and what he’s learning right now. … There’s certain stuff he can sort out just looking at the field.”

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