Budda Baker glad players can ‘talk freely,’ which is an interesting observation

Arizona Cardinals safety Budda Baker spoke to the media after Monday’s voluntary OTAs practice, covering various topics. He discussed his personal performance in the 2023 season, his presence in the offseason program this year, and his desire to continue with the Cardinals beyond his current contract.

However, one particular comment caught attention, and it was regarding the ability to express oneself in the locker room.

Baker said, “It’s important to be mindful of not having individuals with huge egos that hinder open communication. Nowadays, players are more receptive to honest conversations, and it’s crucial to give and receive respect when talking to one another. The dynamics have changed.”

This raises questions about when it was not acceptable to freely express oneself. Was it during the previous season under the current coaching staff? Or perhaps Baker is uncertain because he was not present during the voluntary offseason activities last year.
Did any players last year discourage comments, questions, and criticisms?

Was the reference made to players who were part of the team before 2023 or the previous coaching staff, including head coach Kliff Kingsbury and defensive coordinator Vance Joseph?

If it was about Joseph, it’s an intriguing observation since Baker had his best on-field performances under Joseph. He was a Pro Bowler for all four years under Joseph’s coaching and was a first-team All-Pro once, which is the only time in his career. All seven of his career interceptions were made in Joseph’s defensive scheme, and three out of his four 100-tackle seasons came in that defense.

Alternatively, was it just an observation about how all players, regardless of experience, are more at ease providing feedback to defensive coordinator Nick Rallis about their roles?
Regardless of the motive behind Baker’s statement, it fosters an atmosphere that allows players to take ownership of their responsibilities and gain a deeper comprehension of their roles.

As players enter their second year in this defensive system, the enhanced level of communication and autonomy should ideally translate into improved performance on the field for the entire team.