Arizona Cardinals quarterback Colt McCoy and linebacker Chandler Jones share a special story about the little things on teams that can lead to big things.
“Keep an eye on all the little things you do. Because all those little things are going to add up to a whole lot of something. Make sure it’s a whole lot of something you want. … The little things you do can create big achievements.”
How many times have words of advice included the lament, “Don’t sweat the small stuff?” Probably very often.
While the reality is that it can be wise to think that way, it’s also true that focusing on the “little things” can lead to something big.
During the Cardinals’ week of preparation, there was a private encounter we learned about after Sunday’s victory over Seattle when linebacker Chandler Jones spoke to the media.
Jones began talking about quarterback Colt McCoy, who beyond completing 35 of 44 passes for 328 yards, once again showed his poise and leadership on the field, finding open receivers and often deftly avoiding pressure to accomplish it.
Jones said, “I think the coaches did a tremendous job of signing a player like Colt McCoy. He is a guy that’s mature. He’s been around. He’s a tremendous backup for Kyler (Murray) on and off the field. But Colt is a guy that’s a leader and he’s someone that our whole team has confidence in.”
He then decided to tell us what he called “a small story” that happened a few days ago.
“He saw me working on some moves, and he’s like, ‘Hey, Chandler. I kind of hesitated on telling you this, but I see you thinking. Stop thinking. You’re one of the best players in this league.’ And he said to me, ‘Just go. Just be yourself.’ And I feel like it takes a lot for someone; I just met Colt this year. And so for someone to step out and have those words of encouragement to someone you know, but you really don’t know, it means a lot. That goes to show you what type of person he is.
“If he sees things and he could have chose not to say those things to me, but I took it and I definitely retained it and it definitely showed today. I told him thank you. I kept saying thank you because he was right. I had been doing a lot of thinking. ‘I gotta do this. I got to do that.’ He said just be yourself and I definitely admire Colt for that. And you can ask him about the story.”
McCoy was told, and he said, “I love football. I love the game. I’m always studying the game. Chandler is; he’s usually the best player on the field, right? And he’s one of those guys that works at his craft constantly. On the field, in the locker room, he’s practicing moves, he’s pulling out. He’s doing all the things that he does to make him Chandler Jones. And I think what I told him this week, I’m surprised he talked about it, but it was just … I just appreciate how hard he works. He’s one of our best players. He works hard on it. It means a lot to him.
“And I just told him that he’s a closer, so go. Go get your sacks. Work on this stuff all week, but go get the quarterback. Turn your brain off and go. I think he had a couple sacks today. That’s not by me, that’s Chandler.”
It was Jones putting his ability on the line, but even an All-Pro can be guided at times by what appears to be the little things.
Those little things Sunday for Jones added up to two sacks for 16 yards of losses, four tackles, two of which were for loss, three quarterback hits and a forced fumble.
As McCoy concluded about the Cardinals, “I think I’ve said this before: There’s a good healthy mix of older guys and younger guys and guys who have seen a lot of football, so he’s one of them. And I’m thankful to be on this team and have conversations like that, right? Everybody wants to win.”
It takes an entire roster contributing to win. And it only happens when there is attention to detail and focusing on the little things.
That’s when great things become possible.