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Communication Conversation For Cardinals' Defense Needed

After Week 1 loss, Joseph seeks better operation for his previously untested unit

Linebacker Isaiah Simmons pulls off his helmet during last week's loss to the Chiefs.
Linebacker Isaiah Simmons pulls off his helmet during last week's loss to the Chiefs.

Nick Vigil has played long enough to know the reality of the NFL.

Having better players means something to every team when it comes to potentially winning games. But with 11 players on the field at a time, it's about more than just talent.

"To even have a chance in this league, everyone has to be on the same page," the veteran linebacker said.

In the Cardinals' blowout loss to the Chiefs in Week 1, the defense was poor, and as Vigil noted, "that was the first reps we got as a group together, and I think it showed early on in the game."

The communication wasn't good. But it was beyond that, defensive coordinator Vance Joseph said, and if it doesn't get fixed fast – like by Sunday's trip to Las Vegas against the Raiders – the Cardinals don't want to think about the hole they will be in.

"The communication, it did suffer some," Joseph said. "But it was more about the operation. The entire thing suffered. Our guys played hard and they tried to make plays, but the total operation was just, it wasn't good. Got to coach better there. Can't play that way."

"We didn't play fast, we couldn't get lined up, the calls were coming out slow," Joseph added. "We didn't play clean enough, and they did."

The Cardinals gave up 44 points to the Chiefs, and five touchdown passes to Patrick Mahomes.

"The operation wasn't tested before that game," Joseph said. "We had no idea how it was going to look. I was hoping it would look good, because in practice it looked great. But in practice, there's no stress. It's a controlled environment."

That led to an obvious question – would it have helped the defense to get some preseason game snaps together?

Joseph acknowledged that is something that will be looked at. That's what coaching is, Joseph said, noting "that's just being honest" about the situation.

But he also emphasized that preseason playing time is a "team decision" and the need to do it would be based on next year's team. This year is now about the regular season and fixing the first week's problems.

"It's an area we want to have no issues in, so we need to be rock solid in our communication," said defensive end J.J. Watt, who could make his debut Sunday coming back from a calf injury. "I think that we are taking steps toward improving that significantly this week."

In the middle of the communication was starbacker Isaiah Simmons, whose struggled in his play Sunday, particularly against tight end Travis Kelce. Simmons was the "green dot," in charge of getting the play from Joseph and disseminating the information.

Doing that in a game was obviously more difficult than practice, Simmons acknowledged, and getting the information to everyone and still focusing on his play, "it's a little bit harder to be conditioned for that sort of thing," he said.

But Joseph said the problems weren't just on Simmons. It was also the players hearing the calls, and players knowing exactly what their jobs were.

"I have no excuse," Joseph said. "We have guys who can do their jobs. On Sunday, we didn't do it, and that's my fault."


The Cardinals released wide receiver JaVonta Payton – just signed to the practice squad on Wednesday – and signed wide receiver Javon WIms to the practice squad.

Images of the Cardinals Cheerleaders from our Week 1 game against the Kansas City Chiefs