The Arizona Cardinals head west to play the San Diego Chargers today. We all know the Cards are a little banged up in the receiver core. So what will the keys be to the Cards having a fighting chance of winning this afternoon?
1. Create balance. The Chargers are quite aware of the wide receiver issues the Cardinals face. The Cards opted to go with three rookies behind Larry Fitzgerald instead of signing a veteran free-agent. Probably the best move given the circumstances. For the Cards to be successful, they are going to have to run. You aren't going to be able to run 90 percent of the time and expect to be successful either. The Cards are going to need to use the running game to open up the passing lanes. Passing will still be essential. The Chargers will put eight men in the box and expect to see a lot of blitzing. It will take some creativeness to keep the Chargers off balance.
2. Limit turnovers. Shouldn't this be a key to being successful in any game? Of course, but probably more so today. You can turn the ball over 2-3 times against a St. Louis Rams or Oakland Raiders team and get away with it. Against the Chargers in San Diego, 2-3 turnovers will doom the Cards.
3. Don't panic. If the Cards get down early by 7-10 points, don't panic. If they get down early, they should stick with the game plan. Don't go calling for Max Hall if the first couple of Cards offensive drives stall and the Chargers score on the first couple of drives. Stay the course. If it is a blowout at halftime, then you can think about changes.
4. Beanie Wells and Tim Hightower. These two are going to be asked to carry the workload. Don't be surprised to see both get 15-20 carries. That will only happen of course if the Cards can sustain drives. If both can find the holes and keep the ball off the ground, the Cards should have a fighting chance.
5. Limit Penalties. Penalties more than anything have been what has hurt the Cards the most so far. Not just committing them, but committing them at the worst times. Third and fifteen is not a time to give the Chargers a freebie on a stupid personal foul.