It’s football time again, God I hate the bye week!! This Sunday it’s our Arizona Cardinals visiting the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. On paper, we match up very well and hold the advantage over TB in several areas. But as we all know games aren’t won on stat sheets, their won in the trenches. So lets get right to it, here’s how we get the W this week:
1. Contain Bucs QB Jeff Garcia in the pocket and turn up the heat
I know I say this every week, but it is that important. Look, you wouldn’t be a starter at QB in the NFL if you couldn’t sling the rock. Garcia can do it, and do it well. Prior to last weekend he had completed 217 passes without an interception going back to last year and is great at making throws outside of the pocket on the run. Also, he is a legitimate running threat, so keeping him contained with pressure off of the edge and collapsing the pocket around him is crucial. At 6’1″, he’s not the tallest guy and often likes to roll out just so he can see the field and his receivers. Squeeze him in the pocket, pressure him and he will be ineffective. We saw what Jacksonville did to him last week, so we need to do more of the same.
2. Let Kurt air it out against the aging Bucs Secondary
I think the play of Kurt Warner will be absolutely critical for the Cards this Sunday. His elbow is markedly improved since his injury in week 6, and I think he could have a big day against this unit. CB Ronde Barber, the teams best defensive player for the past 3 seasons is in his 11th year and is showing signs that he is slowing down. I don’t think their corners match up with Larry Fitzgerald or with Anquan Boldin at all. If they play their traditional Cover 2 defense (which Jon Gruden seems to be absolutely dedicated to) than there will be alot of opportunities to stick the ball in soft zone coverage spots over the middle and behind the corners. Whoever is in the slot this game, whether it be Fitz or Q, should have a monster day.
3. Kicking game, kicking game, kicking game
I also say this one every week, but it is crucial every week. Whenever you are on the road, field position is absolutely critical. You want to be able to have an average starting field position around your own 35-38 yard line, it helps negate the crowd noise you will be facing. Field goals, punts, coverage teams, you name it, it’s important. And by the way, don’t hate on Neil Rackers for missing that field goal against the Skins. A 55 yarder is no gimme, he’s a solid kicker and a great player for this team. We’re are just going to need him to shake that one loose and come through for us down in Florida.
4. Turnovers: the great equalizer
Turnovers are the biggest momentum shifter in the game. Everything can change in the blink of an eye with a turnover. The goal this game has to be to maintain control of the football, NO TURNOVERS. Seeing that Jeff Garcia hadn’t thrown a pick until last week’s loss to the Jags, I don’t think we can afford to give it up at all this game. We need to make smart throws, protect the football and get through this game without any giveaways. That will be a huge boost to this team if we can play on the road and not turn the ball over once, because if we can go up early and not give the ball away, then we should be able to walk out on top.
So those are my keys to this game: pressure the QB, establish the passing threat, strong kicking game performance, and no turnovers. If we stick to these keys and play our game, than we walk out of Tampa at 4-4 and ready for Detroit. GO CARDS!!!