With miniscule playoff chances, Cardinals lean on pride

Dec 7, 2022, 12:14 PM

Arizona Cardinals DL Zach Allen (Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports)...

Arizona Cardinals DL Zach Allen (Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports)

(Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports)

TEMPE — No one inside the building could have envisioned how this Arizona Cardinals season has shaken out.

From the offseason to now, one thing after another — injuries and inconsistent play on top of arrests and a tragic loss of a teammate — has stopped any positive momentum this team manufactured.

At 4-8, the Cardinals enter the week looking to hit the reset button after the bye.

Playoff hopes are nearly nonexistent at this point, with Arizona sporting less than a 1% chance at earning a berth, per FiveThirtyEight.

“I’ve never been a part of a season like this,” 11-year NFL veteran Kelvin Beachum said Monday during a charity event in Phoenix. “It’s been a roller coaster for sure — emotionally, mentally, physically. We’ve had a lot of guys in and out of the lineup, so it’s been challenging in that regard. But again, we still have a great opportunity in front of us to be successful when it matters the most. You want to be able to win December football.

“We have an opportunity to still put our best foot forward and really, it’s all about pride at this point. I know people don’t like to hear that but, it’s not about what’s on the front of the jersey. It’s what’s on the back of the jersey. And it’s taking pride in what you do, it’s taking pride in your detail and taking pride in your execution.”

There hasn’t been a position group hindered more by injury and coaching change than the offensive line room.

In addition to having just one original starter in Beachum currently healthy, the group was hit with the sudden firing of run game coordinator and OL coach Sean Kugler — who coached Beachum as a rookie in Pittsburgh — after he allegedly groped a woman in Mexico City ahead of the team’s Monday Night Football game against the San Francisco 49ers.

Aside from what is going on with his current team, Beachum must also prepare for what potentially lies ahead after the season runs its course, with the lineman set to hit free agency in the offseason.

Despite the odds being stacked against the team, defensive lineman Zach Allen isn’t ready to wave the white flag on the season just yet.

Until Arizona is mathematically out of the playoff equation, his sights remain set on a postseason berth and finishing the year off on the right note.

“You just try to go week to week and help the team,” Allen said Tuesday. “We’re not totally out of it. I know everybody kind of wants to … bury us right now, but we’re not eliminated yet. We still have a chance. I know all of us, we’re just going to do whatever it takes to still make the playoffs.”

Allen still has quite a bit to play for in 2022. He’s enjoying his best season as a pro behind 4.5 sacks, seven passes defensed, nine tackles for losses and 18 QB hits, all career bests.

He’ll certainly be looking to cash in for his play in 2022 as he’s set to become an unrestricted free agent.

For left tackle Josh Jones, who has taken over for the injured D.J. Humphries, putting that best foot forward begins at practice.

Jones has a real shot at being a crucial part in the revamping of the offensive line that is going to be needed with the 2023 free agents and potential retirements coming in the offseason.

In place of Humphries, Jones has held his own, starting four of the last five games and proving he can be a starting option at tackle. He has the rest of the season to prove it with Humphries done for the year.

And it all starts with solid preparation.

“We just need to go out there and attack … each practice,” Jones said when asked what he hopes to see the rest of the season. “Try to get better each and every day we come into the building and hopefully we can go out there and put up some results on Sundays.”

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