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Effort, Emotion Of The Moment, And Friday Before The Chargers

Budda Baker had some stuff to say after Monday's game and Troy Aikman had some stuff to say during the game. And when Vance Joseph finally got a chance to talk about it later in the week, the Cardinals defensive coordinator once again showed why he is good to talk about such things and lend perspective.

Joseph admitted that, like Baker, he was emotional after the loss. He also said he was "confused" with how things got so bad with the defense against the 49ers' offense so quickly. But big picture, as the Cardinals try to again steady themselves against a good offense Sunday – this time the Chargers – Joseph genuinely didn't want to let a single play define current circumstances. In this case, the Antonio Hamilton non-tackle that was called out by Troy Aikman in-game and highlighted on "Hard Knocks."

"It's never been that bad for us versus that football team," Joseph said. "It became a runover late, and that was bizarre for me. So I was emotional also. If I had been interviewed after the game, it probably would've been the same kind of tone.

"After watching the game, we had some the plays we didn't finish. The one with Ham, they were talking about it on TV, and rightfully so, that's what your eyes saw. But that wasn't the case. Guys are playing hard all the time. We addressed it moving forward – you don't want your name on that stuff. But consistently, I don't see that in our football team. We fight to the end."

Joseph said Baker had a chance to come out of the game late with the score out of hand, but he declined.

Joseph wasn't dismissing what Baker said nor what Hamilton did. "It's a good question. It's what your eyes saw. We can't run from that." But he also emphasized it wasn't multiple plays.

"He thought the guy was out of bounds," Joseph said. "That was legit. He would want it back. I would want it back for him. But it wasn't consistent across the board. I would fight that. I watched the tape three times. I didn't see that."

Arizona Cardinals safety Budda Baker (3) and Arizona Cardinals Defensive Coordinator Vance Joseph during the 2022 regular season game between the Arizona Cardinals and the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022 in Glendale, AZ.

-- It was interesting to see the comments by 49ers defensive back Chavarius Ward, with Ward saying – among other harsh things – that DeAndre Hopkins isn't one of the better receivers in football. Hop had some thoughts too.

"I'll handle things on the football field," Hopkins said. "Obviously that was very personal. When a young guy like that says something like that, to me, I don't care. It's he-said, she-said. It's a lot of talk. To me, it's laughable. It's funny.

"I wish football players could have a boxing match where we could go a couple rounds. I think someone like him, he obviously has something he needs to get off his chest. I'm a guy who would help him get it off his chest."

-- There are a ton of great receivers right now but to say Hop isn't one is disingenuous at best. He had nine catches for 91 yards against the 49ers and that was sitting out a good chunk of the fourth quarter. Hop, again after missing six games, is still on pace for 100 catches and 1,075 yards this season.

-- Hop should have Hollywood Brown on the field with him. And Kyler Murray is starting. Let's see what that means for the offense.

-- This is only the second time the Cardinals have played the Chargers at home since the beginning of the 2003 season. That came in 2014 on the back half of a "Monday Night Football" doubleheader to open the season – perhaps you remember, with rains coming down so bad during the day that for a time, the I-10 was under water. The Cardinals eeked out an 18-17 win that night.

-- The Cardinals have played 11 games – and right tackle Kelvin Beachum is the only offensive starter who has managed to play all 11 games.

-- The 2001 draft was pretty good for the Cardinals – OL Leonard Davis, DE Kyle Vanden Bosch, S Adrian Wilson – but they also took a cornerback in the seventh round named Ronaldo Hill. Hill was quiet, but he had five picks and two sacks in 2003 before leaving as a free agent after 2004. He ended up carving out a 10-year NFL career and is now the Chargers' defensive coordinator.

-- The Cardinals' defense just had to deal with Christian McCaffery, but now they see another pain out of the backfield: Austin Ekeler. Ekeler has scored 11 touchdowns, averages seven catches a game and averages almost 100 yards rushing and receiving a game. He's a guy the Cardinals have to mitigate.

-- The last word goes to defensive end J.J. Watt, who is a soccer fan and who talked to a few reporters Friday with the United States-England World Cup game playing on a TV in front of him. (The teams played to a 0-0 draw, a good outcome for the U.S.) Watt, who wore a USA soccer Christmas sweater at practice, was asked if he played soccer growing up.

"I played in third grade," Watt said with a smile. "I played hockey growing up, baseball, basketball, football. I'm not an endurance athlete, so I don't think it would've been good for me. Goalie definitely would've been my only option."

See you Sunday.

J.J. Watt at practice Friday.
J.J. Watt at practice Friday.

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