Drew Stanton is facing a major challenge Thursday night when he leads the Arizona Cardinals against the Seattle Seahawks.
But he will still make sure the mood in the huddle is as light as can be, even if it is a key division game against a rival in prime time.
“Some people can misconstrue the laid-back sense of humor as a smart-ass,” Stanton said. “We make it hard enough on ourselves. We take everything so serious, and it should be serious. But at the same time, we need to go out and have fun. You only do that by being able to relax and play to your potential. There’s a time and place for all of that. It’s all in jest and it’s all lighthearted.”
That seems to suit his teammates just fine. Some say the comments and jokes don’t mean Stanton isn’t taken seriously as a player.
“The biggest smart-ass I know. You’ve got to love that about him,” offensive lineman D.J. Humphries said. “He’s a veteran. He commands the huddle.”
Coach Bruce Arians doesn’t seem to mind Stanton’s ways, either. Stanton has been the backup quarterback since 2014, and is now starting with Carson Palmer on injured reserve.
“When Drew steps in the huddle there is total confidence in the other 10 guys. They know he knows this offense inside and out,” Arians said. “If I have a question, I’ll ask Drew, because he knows what we all do.”
Stanton brings a 7-3 career record as the Cardinals’ starter into Thursday night. One of those three losses came against the Seahawks in Seattle in 2014, and Stanton threw two interceptions in relief of Palmer in a 36-6 loss to the Seahawks at home in 2015.
The Seahawks (5-3) specialize in forcing turnovers. Their defense has recovered five fumbles, picked off eight passes and scored three defensive touchdowns this season.
“They’re still as good as ever,” Stanton said. “I don’t know how they can continue to pay all of these guys and have them come back each and every year. They’ve got a good formula and a good cap guy, apparently.”
Stanton has thrown an interception in each of the two games he’s played this season, though the Cardinals (4-4) are coming off a 20-10 win at San Francisco on Sunday that has them back in the thick of the NFC West race.
In his first start in more than a year, Stanton went 15 of 30 for 201 yards and two touchdowns at San Francisco. He also kept a scoring drive alive by converting a third-and-1 with a read-option run, managing the game while workhorse running back Adrian Peterson plowed through the 49ers for 159 yards on 37 carries.
“You can’t hesitate at all. You have to make split-second decisions and obviously the interception, I overthought it,” Stanton said. “There’s so many nuances that go into every single play. There’s three or four plays, you either make that play or you don’t, and that’s going to decide the game but you just don’t know when those are going to show up.”