Bruce Arians is ticked off.
His Cardinals have lost two of three while flashing a troubling inability to raise their play late in close games. This is the time when coaches usually sends messages, and Arians starts on the practice field.
The coach works his players hard in practice as the team prepares for a Week 7 matchup against the Baltimore Ravens. At one point, strength and conditioning coach Buddy Morris requests Arians turn down the intensity. Arians dismisses his assistant with a grunt.
"Practices are so hard you can't wait until you get to Sunday so you can get a break," Larry Fitzgerald says on the sideline.
When Larry Fitz is talking about the difficulty of the preparation week, you know a message is being sent.
Arians isn't done, either. Weeks earlier, he warned his players that he'd have cars towed if they parked in spaces at the facility not designated for players. When practice squad defensive lineman and former British Olympian Lawrence Okoye doesn't heed the warning, he finds himself out of a job entirely.
"He has a different sense of entitlement having been an Olympian," Arians says to general manager Steve Keim and president Michael Bidwill. "He is a talented guy, and he probably ought to go to Oxford. Follow the rules."
Harsh? Absolutely. But effective for sure. Episode three of All or Nothing: A Season with the Arizona Cardinals documents three consecutive wins in the heart of the regular season, including a thrilling takedown of the defending NFC champion Seahawks in their house. Arians is pushing the right buttons.
»Cardinals defensive line coach Brentson Buckner delivers a doozy of a motivational speech when talking about the looming road trip to Seattle. He frames his tough love around one of Marshawn Lynch's greatest hits. "We think we're just going to turn it on in Seattle? That team has punked us for three years! Last year here you look at that last run, it was going to go down in infamy, and when he go into the Hall of Fame they gonna show it, so everybody on there will get a chance to be in Canton. The man ran through our whole defense! We laying on the ground, we reaching for him, and then he run and jump in the end zone and grab his nuts."
The run is worth a trip down memory lane:
» Arians' delightful wife, Christine, has a theory why her husband was labeled by many inside the game as a "career coordinator." "The NFL's very political and my husband is incapable of playing politics," Christine Arians said. "It's just not part of who he is. Don't ask him a question if you don't want an honest answer, because that's what you're going to get." Arians finally got a top job with the Cards at age 60.
»Tyrann Mathieu gets plenty of screen time in this episode, including a look back at his uncomfortable wait on draft day in 2013. Arians confided to Mathieu during their first meeting that he had been expelled from his high school. The revelation set the Honey Badger -- who was kicked off the LSU football team -- at ease. "Now me as a player who just gotten a second chance, I'm able to come into work everyday more comfortable, more relaxed because my coach showed me his scars," Mathieu said. "He showed me what he'd been through in life. I think that's why we related to each other. (after a beat) Not to mention we both have crazy swag." Awesome.
» Still can't believe Okoye got whacked for parking in the wrong spot. To be specific, Okoye had parked in a spot designated for season-ticket holders. To which I must ask (and pardon my Arians, he's contagious): Why the f--- do season-ticket holders have preferred parking at the Cardinals' practice facility?