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Beating Belichick, Monday Night, And Saturday Before The Patriots

Kliff Kingsbury was asked what it would mean to him if the Cardinals could beat the Patriots, and for Kingsbury to top the coach who drafted him and mentored him once upon a time.

"Not that …" Kingsbury said before catching himself. "I don't want to say not that much. It's just an honor to go against him. It's really humbling. It's one of those deals where it's like you'd almost be embarrassed because he's such a great coach. He knows so much about football. He's coached every position. He's the best to ever do it. It's more of just an honor to go against him and try to match wits with him."

It's been a rough year for Kingsbury and his team. Both he and Bill Belichick are far from a year ago, when the two traded December compliments that each felt the other was the NFL Coach of the Year. The Patriots need to beat the Cardinals to keep their playoff hopes flickering; the Cardinals need to beat the Patriots to, well, win a game.

But the subplot of Kingsbury against Belichick still carries some interest. It looked like Kingsbury was going to capture the first meeting of the two, in New England in front of zero fans in a 2020 game, but Zane Gonzalez missed a late field goal, Isaiah Simmons took an ill-timed personal foul, and the Patriots booted a walk-off field goal in a 20-17 Cardinals loss.

This week, Kyler Murray acknowledged the Patriots defended him differently than most teams – not a surprise with the experience and knowledge of Belichick. Budda Baker said the Patriots' offense will attack some kind of weakness, although the Cards can't be sure what that is.

Kingsbury is the son of a coach. But after going through what he did at New England as a QB and quasi-assistant after he was injured, "I was like, 'there's no way in hell I'm ever going to coach.' " Kingsbury quipped.

He of course did. And now he'll get another chance to knock off the coach who taught him so much.

"To watch the processes they had in New England from kind of behind the veil was incredible," Kingsbury said. "It was a crash course in football, and I learned more in the time there than the rest of my life put together probably. It's a football 101 for anybody who's been through that program— coaches, players, anybody."

-- There has been a lot of talk in New England all season long because Matt Patricia, the long-time defensive coach for the Patriots who was the Lions head coach for a time, is calling the offensive plays during games. So it did not go unnoticed this week when Cardinals defensive coordinator Vance Joseph, when asked to analyze the Patriots' offense, pointed it out.

"I see an offense that is running the football well, (and) it's a very conservative pass game, lots of screens," Joseph said, before smiling. "It's like a defensive guy is calling the offense."

The comment likely got more attention after Patriots quarterback Mac Jones was caught on camera in the Patriots' last game clearly upset about the offensive calls. But the reality is that the Patriots will do exactly as Joseph guessed, an attempt to shorten the game with more of a ball-control effort.

"It's how a defensive guy would call offensive plays, right?" Joseph continued. " 'Let's not turn the ball over, let's get four yards a play, try to burn clock', and that's what they are doing. That's what he's going to do on Monday night. He's going to be patient."

-- How good has DeAndre Hopkins been this season after returning from suspension? He has already surpassed his catches and yards from last season.

Table inside Article
2021 10 64 42 572 8
2022 6 64 49 574 3

-- The Cardinals still have a slim chance to reach the postseason, but it is possible to be eliminated this weekend. If the Seahawks (home against Panthers) and the Giants (home against Eagles) both win on Sunday, the Cardinals will have to beat the Patriots to stay alive.

-- With Rashaad Coward – who has been starting at left guard -- out for Monday's game, the Cardinals are about to start their ninth different offensive line combination in 13 games. Cody Ford replaces Coward. For those scoring at home, it should be (from left tackle to right) Josh Jones, Ford, Billy Price, Max Garcia, Kelvin Beachum.

-- There is a toy drive Monday for those attending the game. New unwrapped toys and donations will be collected at every stadium entrance.

-- I would expect the playing time of Myjai Sanders to grow in these final five games, but not necessarily at the expense of Markus Golden. Golden only has 1½ sacks this season, and I had a chance to ask Joseph how he would categorize Golden's season. Joseph said Golden is playing "solid football" and noted the Cardinals are in a tougher spot to rush the passer because of how often they have not had a lead.

"You have to get a lead to get sack numbers," Joseph said. "That's Junk's deal. He's a pass rusher. To have a chance to rush the passer with a lead, that hasn't happened much for him this year. But he's been solid, he works hard every day, and he wants to win for us. So I have no problems with how he has played."

-- The Cardinals will sport the red-jerseys-over-red-pants look against the Patriots.

-- The Cardinals don't play the Patriots often, but it's a nail-biter when they do. The last time was the aforementioned Patriots' walkoff field goal. In 2016, Chandler Catanzaro missed a 47-yard field goal with 41 seconds left in a 23-21 Patriots win at State Farm Stadium (with Jimmy Garoppolo playing QB for the Patriots). And in 2012, and a trip to New England, the Cardinals improbably held on to a 20-18 win after a late Ryan Williams fumble when Stephen Gostkowski missed a 42-yard field goal with five seconds left.

-- This is only the fourth season the Cardinals have had more than one appearance on "Monday Night Football" and the first since the team moved to Arizona. The other times were in 1985, 1977 and 1971. The Cards' first "MNF" showing this season was not good, the loss in Mexico City to the 49ers.

-- The last word comes from Hollywood Brown, who was asked about Patrick Peterson's comment about how "Kyler Murray doesn't care about anybody but Kyler Murray."

"I don't know this perception that people have on Kyler. I see why people ... if you don't know him he might come off wrong, but Kyler is one of the most loving people I know and one of the hardest working people I know and one of the hardest working people I know so when I see stuff like that, I ask him, 'Why are people commenting like that?' "

See you Monday.

QB Kyler Murray signals touchdown during a game in New England in 2020 between the Cardinals and Patriots.

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