The major storyline heading into week four against the Buccaneers was the depleted line backing corps. The Cardinals performed very well to the point that anyone not keeping tabs on the situation may not have even known they lost three linebackers the week prior. Buccaneers running back Doug Martin was held to 45 yards on 27 attempts with the aid of two practice squad linebackers.
Dontay Moch was one the practice squad backer’s who was scouted by many websites as just “ a body to fill the depth” for the Cardinals but he proved to be much more than that with a stellar performance. Credit the scouting department and front office for keeping him and credit Mr. Moch himself for stepping up to the challenge.
The “MVP” of the game was obviously the deserts version of “shut down island” Patrick Peterson with his fourth quarter interceptions to give the Cardinals the lead and end the game. His “forbidden island” type play will be needed this week against the Carolina Panthers when he is assigned to Steve Smith. The next progression for Cam Newton will be Greg Olson who has a favorable match-up this week as tight ends have feasted on the Cardinals defense.
If the Cardinals can slow or contain Olson enough to make Newton progress to Ted Ginn who is a threat for his pure speed, we may see another huge game from Tyrann Mathieu who will be assigned to help over Steve Smith and cover (when necessary) the speedy Ginn.
The Panthers arrive in Arizona with a 32nd ranked pass offense for the front four and aggressive secondary to suffocate, but a 3rd ranked rushing offense for a patched up front seven to contain. Two weeks removed from the patching needed on defense, the Cardinals bring back Daryl Washington (Suspension), Kevin Minter (Hamstring), Dan Williams (Family),Rashad Johnson (Finger). The return of Washington, Minter and Williams give a large performance boost to the defense.
Expect Washington and Minter to provide the speed to contain and hard hitting mentality to slow the Panthers rush of Deangelo Williams and Cam Newton. Dan Williams returns to stop any attempts up the middle. This game-plan along with Patrick Peterson nullifying Steve Smith and a combined effort of linebackers and rookie safety Tony Jefferson to limit Greg Olson will ease the pressure off of the offense to put up more than 17 points to earn a win.