TEMPE — If the NFL season miraculously ended after four weeks, the Arizona Cardinals would be sitting pretty with a first-round bye in the postseason.
But this is reality, where the NFL season is even longer now. An undefeated start to the season is nice, but with 13 games left on the docket, starting with divisional foe San Francisco, there’s still a whole lot of meat left on the bone.
“Obviously, starting out 5-0 would be amazing but … it isn’t how you start at all,” offensive lineman Justin Pugh said Thursday. “We gotta keep going into these games hungry. It’s a mentality, it’s how we practice, it’s how we train, it’s how we meet in the meeting rooms. That is what makes a team 5-0.
“We’ve had close calls, we could easy be sitting here at 3-1 and not be looking at that so it’s the mentality of how we’re gonna go into every practice, every meeting, everything we do with the mentality that we’re gonna win that day and it’s gonna carry over.”
Similarly to this year, the Cardinals had a hot start to 2020, beginning 5-2 and shaping up to be contenders in the NFC West. The next nine games weren’t all that fruitful, though, with the team going 3-6 and missing out on the playoffs by a game.
So until the Cardinals right the wrong of the second half of last season, all the hype and national attention means little to Arizona’s locker room.
“I could hit you with a cliche that this year feels different, the players are closer, all those things that you wanna hear but we gotta prove it,” Pugh said. “We can say all we want, we gotta go out there and still prove it. I’ve been on teams that started out hot and don’t make the playoffs, like we did last year. We had the No. 1 offense in the NFL and then all of a sudden we don’t finish the year the right way.
— Tyler Drake (@Tdrake4sports) October 7, 2021
“We’ve learned from that, hopefully we’ve learned from that, and we gotta go out there and continue to prove it,” Pugh said. “Until we prove everyone wrong, we’re still that same team. We gotta go out there and prove it to ourselves and I think last week was a step in the right direction.”