Found September 19, 2013 on
Sports Report Arizona:
After a hard-fought victory last Sunday the Arizona Cardinals turn their sights to another explosive offense, this time run by quarterback Drew Brees and head coach Sean Payton. The Cardinals will be traveling to the Bayou to play the New Orleans Saints on Sunday. It is a battle of offensive minds in Payton and Bruce Arians, however it will be the Arizona defense which will decide the fate of this contest.
Defensive coordinator Todd Bowles and the Cardinals defense did a solid job of limiting the Lions offense. Bowles’ unit was able to shut down the running game of the Lions and force them to become one dimensional. The difference between the Lions and Saints is that the person leading the symphony, Brees, is one of the best in the game and has years of experience. Stopping the Lions offense revolved around limiting Calvin Johnson‘s touches and forcing the rest of the offense to beat them. Even with Johnson’s 2 touchdowns and 100 plus yards receiving, the Cardinals defense was able to force the rest of the Lions players to step up and take control, something which they were ultimately unable to do.
Drew Brees and company have better overall talent at every position along the offensive unit, which includes perhaps the most talented tight end in the NFL, Jimmy Graham. The former college hoops star has been a man possessed over the last three seasons and has been an offensive juggernaut for Brees and the Saints. This season Graham has averaged 100 yards receiving over the first two games of 2013 with a total of 14 receptions and 2 touchdowns. The other weapons include running backs Darren Sproles and Pierre Thomas as well as wide receivers Marques Colston, Lance Moore, and the rookie Kenny Stills. All are versatile contributors who can hurt any defense. Sproles is perhaps the most explosive and versatile of the bunch as he is often used on returns, out of the backfield, and as a reliable receiving outlet for the offense on third downs.
For Bowles and the defense, the game plan won’t be the same as last week. This isn’t an offense looking to establish the run. This is an offense looking to throw the ball around the field and force the defense to play fast. Thomas is a more than capable running back and if needed can put up solid numbers in the ground game. However, the Saints only ask about 70-80 yards a game from the rushing attack to keep defenses from solely keying on the pass. They do this with a lot more draws using the speed and elusiveness of Sproles and in run formations with the more conventional Thomas. This is an offense that will use the fullback, a more complete offense than what was seen against the Lions.
Against New Orleans, expect the defense to bring pressure on a majority of snaps where the Saints are in passing formations (3 or more receiver sets). As with every other quarterback in the history of football, pressure is the best way to disrupt the rhythm of the guy looking to throw the ball. Get pressure and force the quarterback to get rid of the ball before he is ready to do so. The front four has not shown the ability to provide consistent pressure on the quarterback so expect Bowles to use various blitzes from his safeties and corners.
The decision to blitz will obviously put added pressure on the secondary. Patrick Peterson will likely cover Colston on the outside with the rest of the secondary matched up with the remaining receivers. Peterson has the ability to take away Colston which would allow for a safety over the top in bracket coverage of Graham. In terms of keeping Graham under control, the key will be to prevent clean releases off the line of scrimmage. Graham is most dangerous on “Seam” or “Go” routes where he sprints straight down the field hoping to use his athleticism and speed to beat the smaller defensive back or slower linebacker. Defenses typically use bracket coverage on these types of players, utilizing someone underneath and someone over the top to close down the throwing window. This coverage isn’t always effective however as Brees is one of the best precision passers in the game and Graham is a physical specimen of a player.
The Cardinals are in for a struggle on defense if they are unable to put pressure on Brees. The defense will need to keep the game close for an offense still working out the kinks. We’ll be back tomorrow to preview what the Cardinals offense will be up against with a revamped Saints defense.
BEST OF MAXIM
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(photo credit: David Drapkin/AP)
Setting the stage
It never gets any easier in the National Football League.
After notching his first win as head coach, Bruce Arians had very little time to celebrate, as week three pits the Birdgang against the imposing New Orleans Saints, off to a 2-0 start after ending last season 7-9.
Last week, the Saints pulled out a close one against the division...
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Last week: 23
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