R Quarterbacks are trained in misdirection. And defenders are adept at disguising their coverages.
So maybe it’s not surprising that Cardinals quarterback Ryan Lindley did not sound the least bit intimidated by the prospect of having to face the Seahawks’ No. 1-rated defense on Sunday in Arizona.
And the Seahawks secondary is doing a commendable job of hiding the copious drool dripping down the front of their jerseys at the notion of facing a raw quarterback the Cardinals signed off a practice squad just a month ago.
Seattle All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman said you might get greedy when you’re in college and get the chance to play against a quarterback up from the lower rungs of the depth chart. But not in the NFL.
“Whenever you start overlooking guys or not respecting guys, that’s when you get beat by people you shouldn’t get beaten by,” said Sherman, who used air-quotes around “people you shouldn’t get beaten by,” to signify that’s not how anybody is thinking about Lindley.
“So, we’re going to give him a tremendous amount of respect, and we’re going to attack him the way we would if he was the No. 1 quarterback from the (start),” Sherman said of Lindley.
The Cardinals have provided evidence that they’re resilient enough to succeed despite steady roster attrition.
They’ve been able to win 11 games and hang on to a slim NFC West Division lead over the Seahawks (10-4) despite a number of key injuries, including working their way down the quarterback depth chart from Carson Palmer to Drew Stanton, now to Lindley, with the possibility that rookie Logan Thomas also will get tossed in.
Lindley is 4 for 10 for 30 yards after stepping in for the injured Stanton last week against St. Louis. Lindley was with the Cards in 2012, and saw action against Seattle late in a 58-0 loss.
He had been on the Chargers’ practice squad until he was brought back to Arizona for depth after Palmer went down this season.
His career numbers — zero touchdown passes with seven interceptions — seem to confer upon him the status of blood-dripping meat to the ball-hawking Seattle defense, which is No. 1 in the league in least total yardage and pass yardage allowed.
And, yes, of course Lindley is aware of the play of the Seattle defense the past couple of seasons. “Yeah, they’re pretty good.”
Lindley enumerated the Seahawks’ threats on defense. “Obviously, it’s a good defense and we know we have to be on our Ps and Qs with everything,” he said. “I think the numbers speak for themselves ... you have to respect that and be ready to bring your ‘A’ game on Sunday.”
Arizona coach Bruce Arians suggested Thomas could see action as well, and he, too, is intriguing, with just one completion this season — an 81-yard touchdown to Andre Ellington. His seven other attempts were incompletes.
But Lindley and the Cardinals seemed to have assumed the temperament of Arians; they’re loose, confident, and guaranteed to be aggressive. And they appreciate the position they’re in — fighting the Seahawks for the division title.
Arians loves the idea that the Seahawks are favorites, as the team has been slow to collect believers despite its 11 wins. He said Wednesday that he believes in the team’s abilities and its process of preparation, and isn’t going to change the approach regardless of the quarterback.
Sherman suspected as much.
“You have to prepare the same way you’d prepare if Carson was playing or Stanton was in there,” Sherman said. “You prepare for them to take shots downfield and try to establish the run game, which is something they’ve done better in the past weeks.”
Seattle coach Pete Carroll said Wednesday that he’s a fan of Arians’ coaching style.
“Bruce has done a great job keeping these guys on track and their style hasn’t altered at all,” Carroll said.
The teams not only have the customary familiarity with a divisional opponent, they’ve also tangled with each other recently, with the Hawks winning 19-3 in Seattle on Nov. 23.
But that time they throttled Stanton, and now it’s Lindley calling the signals.
“It’s hard to find tape on him, honestly,” Sherman said.
Ah, a sense of the unknown. It may be the best thing Lindley has going for him this week.