The Cardinals are looking for their first win of the season today against the Colts.
INDIANAPOLIS – After they opened the season with a 35-23 loss in Detroit last Sunday, several Cardinals noted that it was only one game and 15 more remained.
That analytic is undeniable, but so is this: There are only 16 games, which makes slow starts hard to overcome. The Cardinals went through that last year, losing three of their first four and finishing 7-8-1.
“I feel like they’re all ‘must-wins',” receiver Larry Fitzgerald said. “It’s not a baseball schedule. We only got one a week, 16 of them scheduled, and you’ve got to try to win as many of those as you can to put yourself in position.”
An 0-1 record is only one of the Cardinals’ concerns entering Sunday’s game against the Colts. Running back David Johnson suffered a dislocated left wrist against the Lions and is expected to miss two to three months. Left tackle D.J. Humphries is out with a sprained knee. Left guard Mike Iupati, receiver John Brown and tight end Jermaine Gresham all might not play because of injuries. And quarterback Carson Palmer is coming off one of his worst games since joining the Cardinals in 2013.
The Colts (0-1) are even worse off. Five starters, including quarterback Andrew Luck, are out with injuries. And they were blown out last week by the Rams, who won four games a year ago.
No wonder Colts coach Chuck Pagano joked earlier this week "the football crap will kill you.”
Told of his close friend’s comment, Arians laughed, saying: “Exactly. You build a whole football team, and you get all set up, and then you lose four starters. For them, I think it was early. For us, it was last Sunday. So with that stuff, it’s like, ‘OK. Regroup.’ Sooner or later, that wears on you.”
The Cardinals looked awful against the Lions even before they suffered injuries. Palmer wasn’t the only one who played poorly, but no one was worse.
He completed 27 of 48 passes but just 10 of his first 24. He had three passes intercepted, one of which was returned for a touchdown.
Immediately after the game, Palmer said he was eager to return to work and purge the disappointment. This week, he practiced on a Wednesday for the first time since midseason of last year, although Arians said Palmer’s work week was scheduled two months ago.
“Any time you lose, I always feel like that,” Palmer said. “Whether you’re sore, beat up or tired, or whatever the case is, you just can’t wait to play again. I’ve been feeling like that since Sunday night.”
In Detroit, no one was able to compensate for Palmer’s poor play. There were a couple of dropped passes, the Cardinals averaged 2.5 yards per rush, and the defense gave up three touchdowns in the final 18 minutes.
With Johnson out, they have to reconfigure the offense. Running back Kerwynn Williams is expected to make the first start of his career, but Andre Ellington and Chris Johnson are expected to play, too.
“We won a lot of games before David got here,” offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin said. “We’re going to continue to win games without David being out there. It’s a committee. I don’t care who runs it. I just want four yards or more.”
The Cardinals will find no sympathetic ears in this town. Last week, the Colts looked like one of the worst teams in the NFL. They reportedly are making a change at quarterback, with Jacoby Brissett replacing Scott Tolzien. Brissett has been with Colts for only two weeks.
Backup quarterbacks have been successful against the Cardinals in recent years. Last year, the Patriots won in Glendale with Jimmy Garoppolo starting. In 2015, the Steelers beat the Cardinals with Michael Vick and Landry Jones at quarterback.
“We want to make sure that we’re going in there preparing as if Andrew Luck is playing,” cornerback Patrick Peterson said. “We want to make sure we prepare to give this quarterback our best shot, because at the end of the day, he’s an NFL quarterback. He’s still able to make those throws.”
Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald says Sunday’s game against the Colts in Indianapolis is a must win, but he believes that about all NFL games.