Gameday leftovers: Collective effort keeps Cardinals afloat in Week 6

Oct 18, 2021, 5:50 PM
Acting head coach defensive coordinator Vance Joseph of the Arizona Cardinals looks on during the f...
Acting head coach defensive coordinator Vance Joseph of the Arizona Cardinals looks on during the fourth quarter against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium on October 17, 2021 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Nick Cammett/Getty Images)
(Photo by Nick Cammett/Getty Images)

Entering an NFL game with a head coach and a handful of important pieces can be a tough task for most teams to handle.

The Arizona Cardinals’ odds were stacked against them entering Sunday’s matchup against the Cleveland Browns, as head coach Kliff Kingsbury, quarterbacks coach Cam Turner, linebacker Chandler Jones and defensive lineman Zach Allen tested positive for COVID-19.

To make matters worse, defensive tackle Corey Peters was also placed on the COVID-19 list the morning of game day, while starting center Rodney Hudson found himself on the injured reserve with ribs and shoulder injuries over the weekend.

To say the past few days have been stressful is an understatement.

“It was a troubled week with the positive tests starting on Wednesday with Chandler and obviously coach popping positive on Friday,” defensive coordinator and acting head coach Vance Joseph said Monday. “Him, Cam and also Zach Allen on Friday and Corey Peters on Sunday morning. It was a tough week.”

It took an all-hands-on-deck approach between coaches and players alike to put a cohesive performance together in what Joseph called one of the most gratifying wins of his career. Arizona rolled to a 37-14 victory over a team with high expectations of making the playoffs in 2021.

“Our team leaders and coaches all responded the right way. … No one was troubled by the news of coach being positive. … Nothing changed. The guys were focused. They played hard, they played fast and it was a fun game to watch the guys play.”

Arizona is not quite out of the woods yet, either, as they await the return of Kingsbury, who is “bored at home and watching a lot of football,” among others.

Luckily for the Cardinals, Zoom calls give the head coach a chance to still be an integral part in building a game plan for the Houston Texans in Week 7. But not everything can be worked around.

“As far as being at practice he has to have two negative tests on back-to-back days to come back to the building,” Joseph said. “Hopefully that happens really soon. But if he doesn’t, the meetings and the staff meetings and the team meetings through Zoom is nothing new for our players.”

Cardinals CB Robert Alford ends INT-less streak

Cardinals cornerback Robert Alford came away with his first interception of the season in Sunday’s win over the Browns.

It’s been a long time coming for Alford, who hadn’t made a pick since 2017.

“Being out for two years … just sitting back watching other guys getting picks here and there, it felt real good just to get that one,” Alford told Arizona Sports’ Wolf & Luke on Monday. “Like they always say, once you get that one, they all start rolling in, so now I’m just looking forward to the rest of the them that God is gonna bless me with.”

The perfect example sits on the same team in Byron Murphy, who is tied for second in the NFL with three interceptions on the season.

“I feel like the sky’s the limit for that room,” Alford said of his fellow cornerbacks. “We’ve been solid. We know we can depend on each other and each and every day we push each other to get better.”

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Gameday leftovers: Collective effort keeps Cardinals afloat in Week 6