When Chandler Jones was sitting out with Covid, he turned on the TV to watch the Cardinals play the Browns.
"Frustrating isn't the word I would want to use" the linebacker said. But that first game I missed, the Cleveland Browns game, when I saw how long Baker Mayfield was holding the ball, and me being a pass rusher … I was like 'Sheesh.'
"OK," Jones said, thinking about it. "I will use 'frustrated.' "
Jones has had an interesting year. Five sacks in the opener, none since – although he has had games where he has pressured the QB. He noted that the Cards haven't really played a true dropback passer (or game plan, when it comes to the Packers) since Ryan Tannehill in that first game, and "these quarterbacks are pretty much playing hot potato with the ball."
So I asked him if he was frustrated (there's that word again) about not having any sacks since that monster showing in Tennessee.
"I am not frustrated at all," Jones said. "If I didn't have that Week 1, I'd be pulling my hair out. I understand the game and I am a huge believer – actually this is a fact – that sacks come in bunches."
The Covid situation wasn't fun. He said he lost seven pounds (not the 15 that was reported) and has gained five back. He hasn't quite gotten his taste and smell back 100 percent, but said he was fine football-wise.
Jones still wouldn't mind getting more sacks, but he said he's not concerned about it, and noted that while fans and media tend to judge on sacks, a player in his position is judged on a wider scale by those in the game.
"If you're looking at a contract or showing your value to another team or saying this guy is a good player, they aren't just looking at the sacks," Jones said. "They are looking at the pressures, the QB hits, the hurries. It's hard to get a sack. I know it's our job to do, but everything has to be right."
-- The big news for the week is obviously whether Kyler Murray plays or if Colt McCoy will get his first meaningful snaps as a Cardinal. I truly don't know. It's incredibly infrequent that a player still plays without a week of practice, but then DeAndre Hopkins arrived in Arizona and blew up that thought process for me. I'd think it would be different for a quarterback.
-- Many have asked me what I would do. If I had more information on how exactly bad the ankle was, maybe I could weigh in, but I don't. It makes sense to rest him a game when you consider the rest of the season. But only Kyler and a select few others know exactly what kind of shape he's in. And it is an important game. Heck, they all are. (Steve Keim also mentioned the “big picture," which translated into NFL terms is eight games left in the regular season plus the playoffs after this game.)
-- Because of Murray's situation, Covid wave part two, which took a bite out of the team for the Cleveland road trip, is back. Not only are wide receiver A.J. Green and tight end Demetrius Harris sidelined, but the Cards are also going to be missing three coaches because of Covid: assistant head coach/special teams coordinator Jeff Rodgers, running backs coach James Saxon and assistant offensive line coach Brian Natkin.
That means not only have the Cards now used the Covid list 25 times for players since the opening of training camp, seven different coaches will have missed a game because of protocols.
-- The Cardinals have been 8-1 only three previous times in franchise history – one of which was 2014, when the eighth win just happened to come off the arm of backup QB Drew Stanton, after Carson Palmer went down earlier in the game against the Rams with a torn ACL. A backup QB getting the team to 8-1? Just sayin'.
-- They would also be 5-0 on the road. And when I think back to the fact that this franchise went 9-41 over the first 50 road games I covered back in the day, that's an amazing start to the season.
-- Zach Ertz has only been in Arizona for a couple of weeks, but he already earned an NFLPA weekly community MVP award, in part because he pledged to provide 5,000 meals to Arizona food banks for every Cardinals touchdown through his charitable foundation.
-- No Green and maybe no DeAndre Hopkins, although "Hop don't miss games" and I don't expect that here. But Hop does miss plays if his hamstring is jacked up enough, which is why he only played 15 snaps last week. So, does that open the door for some Andy Isabella? I am guessing we will definitely see more of the 6-foot-4 Antoine Wesley, but maybe Isabella gets a chance to play some on offense and make a play or two.
-- The Cardinals aren't the only ones with receiver injuries. The 49ers might not have breakout star Deebo Samuel, who saw his calf injury (SO MANY CALF INJURIES THIS SEASON) worsen through the week, and like Kyler, the 49ers are having to consider the big picture versus this one game.
-- The 49ers will have tight end George Kittle – who like Jimmy Garoppolo missed the first meeting – back on the field.
-- Last word goes to Markus Golden, who talks to his parents daily and said he's been having 30-minute conversations with them daily since he was young. Since I used to have a hard time getting even a two-minute conversation from my sons when they were teens, I noted he was rare.
"When I went off to college, I tried to be pretty cool (and not talk)," Golden said. "My mom got pretty mad at me, and I never did it again."
See you Sunday.