So things look good for the Cardinals playing Sunday in New York (well, really, New Jersey, but you get it) against the Jets. Friday has been an interesting roller-coaster, with the Cards really for the first time dealing first-hand (with all due respect to the COVID reserve list stay for wide receiver KeeSean Johnson) with the coronavirus potentially impacting the season.
We're only in Week 5. It'd be naïve to think this will be the last time. This is the world we're all living in, however, and the way the NFL has been set up. The Cards will be basically locked down in the hotel tonight and tomorrow, just like last week in Carolina. I'll be honest, I love Friday departures to New York for the chance to walk the city and Central Park – that's obviously gone. D.J. Humphries was smiling as he said it, but he noted the hotel the Cards stayed at last week in Carolina was about 12 minutes from his Dad's house, and the boardwalk that was 50 yards from the hotel was where he and his wife got their photos taken. He was home – and couldn't see anyone.
Weird season indeed.
-- Speaking of weird, that goes right to the last time the Cardinals went to New York to play the Jets. Perhaps you remember? Maybe you recall it as arguably the worst NFL game ever? It was an ugly 7-6 Jets win, when the Cards went 0-for-15 on third downs, Ryan Lindley completed just 10-of-31 passes (and for some reason, Ken Whisenhunt wouldn't turn to John Skelton), and Greg McElroy came off the bench to produce the only touchdown drive.
-- That game was also a tough one for Larry Fitzgerald. Fitz was targeted seven times, but had just one catch, for 23 yards. (Fitz had a tough 2012, because of who was throwing it). Yet Fitz is coming off a two-game stretch now that is even harder to fathom – three catches for a total of 4 yards. It was hard to find instances in his career where he had less than 10 yards receiving in a game (six total before this season) and now back-to-back weeks. And if Kyler Murray's initial target was on target last week, it would've been moot. The Cards really need some Fitz.
-- The Cardinals still need to cut down on their penalties. Going into this week, they were tied for the most in the league – with the Jets. The Jets, however, get a lot more personal fouls called given the aggressive nature of Gregg Williams, New York's defensive coordinator. Let's hope the Cards can keep Kyler safe.
-- It just seems to me – and I know the Cardinals' defense is coming off five bad quarters – that seeing statuesque (and not in a good way) Joe Flacco back there should be helpful.
-- If anyone was unsure how important Budda Baker is to this defense, you saw it last week. If more proof is needed, I think you'll see the flip side Sunday.
-- Humphries was hilarious talking about how linemate Justin Pugh's accent is slowly morphing as the Cards get closer to this trip. Pugh is from the East Coast and played his first five seasons with the Giants.
"It's like he's preparing for it, like he can't wait," Humphries said with a grin. "You should've heard him on the phone today talking to someone, 'Howya doin, sweethaaat.' I said, 'Bro, you from Philadelphia. You don't even talk like that in Philly.' But he said the same thing about me last week, 'Bro, I don't even know what you're talking about. You're in Charlotte and you're talking so country right now I don't even know what you're saying.' … He's definitely Tony Baloney's right now. He's definitely New York City right now."
Tony Baloney's, it should be noted, is a pizza chain Pugh loves and is a partial investor in back in New York/New Jersey.
-- The Cardinals could use an explosion in the run game. Maybe that's Kenyan Drake's breakout. Maybe Chase Edmonds can repeat what he did in this same stadium last year, when he punished the Giants for 126 yards and three touchdowns.
-- Speaking of the Giants, the Cards will make a second trip back to New York in December for a road game against the Giants.
-- For all the offensive ups and downs, the Cardinals have scored at least 20 points in seven straight games. That's an impressive string in the NFL. I would guess it will become eight after playing the Jets.
-- I know I said this last week, but given everything, I do think Murray is going to have a very nice day passing the ball.
See you Sunday.