Tyrann Mathieu: If Cardinals are consistent, “we’ll be alright”

GLENDALE, Ariz. – A lot has gone on lately with the Arizona Cardinals, from a defensive standpoint. They lost their defensive coordinator, Todd Bowles, to the New York Jets. Bowles then lured cornerback Antonio Cromartie out of Arizona and back home to the Jets to team up with Darrelle Revis. The Cardinals have a new defensive coordinator in James Bettcher and a lot of new faces on that side of the football.

Safety Tyrann Mathieu isn’t concerned one bit about how brand new the defense will be when the regular season starts. As long as the team can stay healthy, Mathieu feels the Cardinals have a chance to make some big things happen this year.

“I think we started off great last year (9-1), and then we kind of hit a wall. We couldn’t tackle, we couldn’t make big plays, we were dropping passes. If we can play with that consistency in 16 games, I think we’ll be alright,” Mathieu said.

Mathieu was a guest on NFL Network’s All Access recently, and he was asked how would the defense be able to regroup and respond after losing their leader in the offseason in Bowles.

“I think our core players are still there, obviously Patrick (Peterson) and Calais (Campbell), myself and even Rashad Johnson and Jerraud Powers,” Mathieu said. “Our core’s intact, so I think we can lead those guys. (You) can’t really replace Coach (Todd) Bowles, but we’ll try our best to.”

Head coach Bruce Arians has helped change the culture of the Arizona Cardinals ever since he was named head coach back on January 17, 2013. Arians has 21 wins, a playoff berth and an NFL Coach of the Year award under his belt since becoming the head man for the Cardinals.

You don’t just fall into that kind of favor and success overnight. Arians had to work hard to get to where he is right now in his career. He expects the exact same work ethic out of each and every one of his players. That level of accountability that Arians has running throughout the locker room is one of the main reasons why he quickly gained the respect of each and every man on the roster.

“I think that belief factor, just having faith in each other, having faith in our group and not playing for our coaches, not for anyone else but the player that’s in the (locker) room,” Mathieu said. “I think for the most part last year we did that. We had faith in everybody that stepped on the field, even (Ryan) Lindley. When he (Lindley) got on the field, we had faith that he’d go out there and win a game for us.”

In talking to players in the locker room, and around the Cardinals facility, the consensus is that in order to make it to the pinnacle of professional football – i.e. the Super Bowl – Arizona has to find a way to put the Seattle Seahawks beneath their feet. This has quickly turned into must-watch TV when the Cardinals and Seahawks get together on the field. There’s a reason why Sunday Night Football will pay a visit to CenturyLink Field on November 15, when the Cardinals travel there to take on the Seahawks. Other than the Dallas Cowboys, the Cardinals are the only team to have beaten the Seahawks at home in the last three seasons, so it should be a spirited affair in the Pacific Northwest.

One reason why it’ll be spirited is because Mathieu and the Cardinals defense will have to contend with tight end Jimmy Graham, whom Seattle traded for back in March.

There’s no question that Graham is one of the most physically gifted athletes in the world today. Mathieu says Graham is going to have to add a little something to his game day repertoire if he expects to thrive in a tough NFC West division.

“I think Seattle (Seahawks), as a team, it’s tough to beat those guys obviously. You take Jimmy (Graham) out of it, you still have to stop 3 (Russell Wilson) and 24 (Marshawn Lynch) (and) that’s a full task in itself,” Mathieu said. “I’m looking forward to Jimmy Graham. I was kind of excited that he came to our division. It’s physical, so he’s going to have to block.”

“It’s definitely gonna be a complete game, but I’m excited that he’s (Graham) in our division,” Mathieu said.

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