Cardinals’ Markus Golden Gratefully Reflects on Trade From Giants

Getty Images Markus Golden celebrates after recording a sack against the Houston Texans on October 24, 2021.

Every Arizona Cardinals player wants to be in Glendale, Arizona. The weather is beautiful in the fall months, but it also might have something to do with one other thing.

Arizona is still the only undefeated team in the league, sitting at 7-0. That’s a stone-cold fact.

“I’m just jubilant right now to be here,” said new addition Zach Ertz.

Ertz caught his first reception and touchdown with the Cardinals against the Texans. According to Ertz, he has other people to thank for his success.

“I think we’ve got a lot of talent,” Ertz said, via Dana Scott of the Arizona Republic. “I’ve never seen so much green grass in the middle of the field, and that’s gonna happen with guys like DeAndre Hopkins and A.J. Green on the outside and quarterback like Kyler.”

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Fellow star receiver DeAndre Hopkins sees the maturation with this team.

“This team right here is a good team,” said Hopkins. “Good locker room. Guys take care of business.”

The Cardinals have arguably the best defense in the NFL, allowing the fewest points average on average per game in the NFL.

The Cardinals pairing a top-tier defense with an MVP candidate quarterback in Kyler Murray is just the icing on the cake.

But if there’s one Cardinals player to choose from that bleeds the red and white, it’s one edge-rushing linebacker.

Veteran’s Impact

Linebacker Markus Golden has been one of the brightest catalysts for the Cardinals on defense and his performance against the Texans proved no different. Golden had two sacks, one forced fumble and recovery, three hits on the quarterback as well as one tackle for a loss.

Defensive coordinator Vance Joseph’s steady diet of getting his best pass rushers on the field proves to be key. One of Golden’s sacks featured Dennis Gardeck rushing as well.

Golden is in a league of his own when it comes to one stat. He is the only player with six sacks and four forced fumbles this season.

Golden has accumulated two sacks and a forced fumble in two straight games now.

After the game, Golden was asked how this defense allows him to be so successful.

“It’s a team effort,” said Golden. “I start with the coaches man. The coaches have been putting together a great plan, doing the hard work and giving it to us. We go out there and do our job as the players. We all working together and I’m making sure I work hard and make plays because that’s what I’m supposed to do.”

Golden finished with the top grade on defense at 88.5, according to Pro Football Focus. He was asked by Cardinals reporter Dani Sureck why the Arizona Cardinals hold a special place in his heart.

“I start with them drafting me,” said Golden. “That was the best day of my life. The second best day of my life was me getting traded back here. I give it to God. God does stuff for a reason. I feel like I’m meant to be an Arizona Cardinal and I’m right where I’m supposed to be.”

The 30-year-old was drafted in the second round by the Cardinals in 2013. His breakout season occurred in 2016 when he was third in the league with a career-high 12.5 sacks. However, Golden tore his ACL in the following year, only starting four games. In 2018, Golden only played 11 games and had an ankle injury that kept him out for the final two games.

Once free agency arrived, the New York Giants signed Golden to a one-year deal. Golden hit the ground running and finished with 10 sacks, the most by a Giants linebacker since Hall-of-Famer Lawrence Taylor.

Golden signed a one-year tender to return to New York in 2020. After a slow start by the Giants and himself, New York traded Golden back to Arizona for a 2021 sixth-round pick.

In Week 14 against his former team, Golden got back at his former team and recorded a strip-sack on Daniel Jones that he also recovered during the 26–7 victory. After a solid second-half, the Cards gave him a two-year deal.

Fast forward to 2021, Golden is proving to be one of the best deals the Cardinals have made in free agency, along with J.J. Watt and A.J. Green among others.

Key Update on Defense

Golden has done a great job in replacing opposite edge-rushing linebacker Chandler Jones for the last two years. Jones was forced to miss the rest of the season in Week 5 of 2020 due to a biceps injury. While Golden had just three sacks, he led the team with a pressure rate of 16.8%.

Now, Jones has missed the last two games after being placed on the Reserve/COVID list after testing positive for COVID-19 before the Cleveland Browns game.

Coach Kliff Kingsbury after the win against the Texans gave an optimistic update on Jones.

“He’s getting there,” said Kingsbury. “I feel good going into this week. We’ll see how he progresses, but he was trending the right way towards the end of the week.”

Jones was back in the building two days before their Texans meeting, but he wasn’t activated.

The Cards have a short week of preparation as they take on the Green Bay Packers on Thursday Night Football.

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