Skip to main content

Golden Stresses Goal of Pressuring Stafford

Markus Golden, one of the few players on the Cardinals with playoff experience, is ready to lead the way come Monday night.

With a majority of players on Arizona's current roster that have not made the postseason, the Cardinals look to lean on those few veterans that have made the playoffs come Monday night against the Los Angeles Rams. 

What better player to rely on than outside linebacker Markus Golden, who already serves as a source of energy for the team on and off the field.

Golden said Saturday, "I come to practice with some good energy every day letting them know that this is a big opportunity. I'm not gonna sit around and act like this is a regular game because it's a big game and you got to embrace that and embrace that you get to be able to play in a NFL playoff game on a Monday night. That's a blessing man and that's big time.

"So you know you got to come out, bring that energy here and work hard. The intensity? Of course you're gonna take it up a little bit. It's a playoff game. So I don't want to scare guys and make them feel like, 'Oh, this is the biggest game ever.' But you don't want to sit back and act like this is just a normal game because this is one of those games that you live for as a football player."

Golden was a rookie during Arizona's 2015 run to the NFC Championship Game. Now, with 11 sacks under his belt this season, he's helped the Cardinals fortify their defense in hopes of making a similar advance in the playoffs. 

The first test comes against a Rams offense featuring weapons such as receivers Cooper Kupp and Odell Beckham Jr., further driving home a point of emphasis to get to quarterback Matthew Stafford sooner rather than later.

"That's always important, getting after the quarterback in general man. If you can get him off his spot, get a hit on him, get him uncomfortable (is important) because they remember that," said Golden. 

"Any quarterback, they don't want to be touched. They don't want to be touched at all. So if you hit them, hit the elbow when they (are about to) throw, just be around or being in the area you can mess up the throw, force a turnover and like you said with a great quarterback like Matt Stafford, he's been doing this for a long time. 

"So you always want to get out there and get after him. And I'm trying to make it difficult for him. You don't want to ever leave a guy like him with a clean pocket."

This season, Stafford has flashed brilliance on more then one occasion while also displaying old habits found in his play while still with the Detroit Lions. Stafford has 11 games with at least one turnover this season, including an astonishing eight interceptions in his last four games. 

Stafford has also been sacked 10 times during the final four-game stretch to end the season, and Golden admits a defense licks their chops when seeing mistakes from a top-tier passer.

Scroll to Continue

Read More

"Of course you do," he said. "You watch film, you see those type of things. But with a guy like him you also see him making big throws and making throws that a lot of quarterbacks can't make.

"So of course you want to get pressure on him. For me, I just want to get pressure on him because I know if we do, I got a better chance to help my team win and you never want to give a guy like him a clean pocket because if you do that then he'll pick you apart."

The Cardinals would get a major boost in the pass-rush department with the return of defensive end J.J. Watt, who continues to work his way back from a wealth of shoulder injuries suffered in late October. 

It would be a miracle comeback for even a man the stature of Watt, as Golden has developed an advanced admiration for Watt after seeing him work his way towards playing once again.

"Oh man J.J., like I always say man, he's our leader. He was our leader when he was out there healthy, then he got banged up for a little bit he was still coming out every day leading so I've got a lot of respect for J.J. man, I love balling with him, love playing with him and just seeing him on the field, guys get hyped and everybody happy that he's out there with us just because the energy he brings," said Golden. 

"He worked hard. He's been out there working hard like he'd been doing his whole career man. So it's like he really works hard. He really puts the work in every day and I'm excited for him and we don't know if he's gonna play yet. We'll see Monday but he put in the work and I got a lot of respect for him. It's an honor to take the field with him."

There's been a buzz in the Valley for Arizona's return to the postseason, as great expectations follow a Cardinals team that can do serious damage on the field. 

The buzz has made its way to the Cardinals locker room.

Golden said, "I feel like it started earlier during the week man, just taking it slow, don't get too hyped on the first day of practice. Let it build up, let it build up and then when it comes to getting closer to the game, like I said you remember as a kid most people wanted to play in big games like this and play in the playoffs and play in January and this the opportunity for us to be able to do that.. 

"So you can't shy away from it, you got to run into it man and when the day come it ain't about the big lights, it ain't about that. It's still a football game at the end of the day. You get to get out there and do what you love. So I feel like if we keep that mindset, people won't be too rattled and when it comes you'll be ready and prepared as long as you put the work in during the week."

The bright lights of Monday Night Football will see the Cardinals either scurry for darkness or thrive in the spotlight. 

One thing we do know is Markus Golden won't need an alarm clock that morning.