Every week during the regular season we get an opportunity to talk with the opposing head coach via conference call. This week it was Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury. I also scanned the Arizona media websites and the Cardinals website to see what else the Cardinals players and coaches are saying about this week's matchup with the Lions.
Here's what they had to say:
1. The Lions could potentially get Pro Bowl wide receiver Kenny Golladay back this week, and Kingsbury expects that to be a big boost for Detroit's offense. He said Golladay will definitely bring a lot of "juice" to Detroit's offense alongside the Lions' other skill-position players. Golladay's presence on top of Detroit's other weapons can really stress a defense.
2. Kingsbury said the first half of last year's Week 1 contest vs. the Lions was probably the worst offensive performance he's ever seen. Arizona and then rookie quarterback Kyler Murray obviously got things going in the second half, particularly the fourth quarter, and Kingsbury said Murray's ability to bring the team back to force a tie against Detroit gave Murray a lot of cred in the locker room, and gave him a lot of confidence right from the start of his NFL career.
3. Cardinals defensive tackle Jordan Phillips was asked about Sunday's matchup against the Lions. He said Arizona's defense certainly isn't taking the 0-2 Lions lightly, even with some of the injuries upfront along Detroit's offensive line. Phillips specifically mentioned running back Adrian Peterson and quarterback Matthew Stafford as players they have to focus on containing.
"Just like any other team, you have to respect them," Phillips told azcardinals.com. "You have to show up and play hard and it doesn't matter who's out there. We're all professionals and we all have a job to do."
3. How is Detroit's defense different from the one Kingsbury studied and prepared for Week 1 last year?
"They still continue to challenge you with multiple looks," Kingsbury said. "A lot of man coverage, so it looks very similar to me to what they've been doing. They're going to make you earn every yard. Each week have a plan to try and take away what you do best and that's kind of a signature of Matt's (Patricia) defense back to New England. He's a tremendous defensive mind and he's always going to have a good plan."
4. The Cardinals signed former Lions outside linebacker Devon Kennard after Detroit released the veteran this offseason. Kennard has a sack and four tackles through Arizona's first two games. He was also in on a Week 1 goal line stop on 4th and 1 that helped the Cardinals beat San Francisco. Kingsbury said Kennard will be excited about playing the Lions on Sunday.
View photos of the starters for the Arizona Cardinals.
5. Murray leads the NFL with 7.5 yards per carry and has three touchdown runs and three runs of 20-plus yards in two games. Kingsbury said he and Murray talked about Murray's ability to run being more of a weapon this season. They looked at Russell Wilson and his ability to step up vertically in the pocket and make four or five plays in the game with his legs that are heartbreaking to a defense.
"That's a weapon Kyler possesses and we want to take advantage of that within the system when the time arises," Kingsbury said. "He's done a nice job of taking those spots so far this season.
Detroit enters Sunday's contest last in the NFL in rushing yards allowed (408) and average yards per carry allowed (6.5).
6. Kingsbury described Lions veteran running back Adrian Peterson as an "ageless wonder" when asked about him. He marveled at Peterson's ability to run downhill with the kind of physicality that he does at age 35. Kingsbury said Peterson is still a big factor they have to prepare for this week.