The Arizona Cardinals enter week three with the third ranked run defense. This will come in handy when they face the Saints this week and their poor run offense. The Cardinals did well in containing the Lions backs and benefited from a Reggie Bush injury. None of the Saints backs are as dangerous as Reggie Bush and they seem to be having scheme issues regarding their run game.
All of the pressure will be on the secondary and front four who need to continue to apply pressure on the quarterback which will increase the likelihood he makes a mistake. Patrick Peterson did very well against Calvin Johnson regardless of what the stat box says. Touchdown one was almost intercepted and a product of great talent. The second was well schemed and executed. At no time did any defender get “burnt”.
The front four made leaps and bounds from week one as far as pressure even if it only amounted to one sack and a fumble both by the MVP of the front four Calias Campbell. We saw John Abraham more and he got his paws on the quarterback a few more times. He is vital this week again for his presence on the field and now for his knowledge of the Saints as he played against them the past 4 years.
The secondary had double duty helping containing the backfield and receivers of Detroit. The front seven will be responsible for handing the Saints another week of run game frustration. This lack of production will force Drew Brees to throw for first downs and scores. The Saints have lived and died by the passing game the last four seasons which makes them priority number one for the Cardinals secondary.
Patrick Peterson will have an easier task smothering Marques Colston. He will have to stay attentive when Drew Brees has no choice but to take a shot to his safety blanket. The wild card this week is who will be assigned to Jimmy Graham who has 2 scores and over 200 yards receiving after 2 games. Tyrann Mathieu is a monster on the field thus far but lacks the size to consistently track with Graham.
A nice surprise other than the heroics of Mathieu in weeks one and two was the emergence of fellow rookie Tony Jefferson at strong safety. He may be able to slow down Graham’s production considering his size, athleticism and talent he faced at Oklahoma. The linebacking corps should help whoever is assigned to Graham by chipping him as he comes through their zone. The best way to frustrate an athletic tight end is to put obstacles in his route.
Just like last week against Detroit, the Saints have a lot of firepower to contend with but if the Cardinals can repress, not allow the full expression of or stifle the air attack that Brees loves to unleash; the Cardinals will have a good chance at “scratching” out a win on the road which coach Arians wisely stated is a goal this season.