Week 4 Preview: Cards vs. Steelers
Now this is the one that we’ve been waiting for…….
It’s the first matchup for Arizona Cardinals new Head Coach Ken Whisenhunt against his former team, the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers roll into town with a perfect record of 3-0 after a thorough beat down of the San Francisco 49ers last Sunday in Pittsburgh. But Whisenhunt along with Asst Head Coach and former Pittsburgh assistant Russ Grimm will be on a mission to show the Steeler’s front office that their decision not to offer him the head coaching position was their loss and Arizona’s gain en route to handing them their first loss of the season.
The Cards come off of a tough loss in Baltimore in week 3, and now sit at 1-2 on the year. The difference in all three games this year has been 3 points, and I would expect another battle that is going to come down to the wire in Glendale on Sunday.
Here are the keys to victory for this critical week 4 matchup:
1. Score first, and be able to answer everytime they score
We have a high-powered offense, we have the tools, but for some weird reason we can’t score more than 23 points. We need to put points on the board first and be able to answer when Pittsburgh scores, because they will score. We need to have an answer for their talented offense.
2. Matt Leinart, do I really need to go into this one that much…..
We all watched last week, we have been reading about the story all week long, we know the deal. Whisenhunt should give Leinart some quick throws to build his confidence early and really spread the field against a good Pittsburgh defense with Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin. Fitz is still looking for his first TD of the year and I think he is way overdue for a breakout game.
3. Good Clock Management: Utilize a balanced attack and hand the ball off to James
While it’s important to build Leinart’s confidence, Whisenhunt also needs to keep the ground game going in this one. RB Edgerrin James is second in the NFC in yards and carries, averaging 4.6 yds per carry with 2 TDs on the year. We moved away from the ground game last week in order to dig ourselves out of a 17 point deficit, but our O-Line needs to win the battle up front and allow us to churn up yards and time of possession. The team that has the ball the longest in this game is going to win.
4. Contain the Steelers ground game
Fast Willie Parker has that name for a reason – because he’s freakin’ fast!!! So far in 3 games this season the Cards defense has not allowed a 100 yard rusher, and they have faced some pretty good RBs. This success is due to the big boys up front led by DE Darnell Dockett, and the excellent play of ILBs Gerald Hayes and Karlos Dansby. If these guys can play tough against the run, that will allow SS Adrian Wilson to work more in pass coverage where he will be needed, which leads us to our last point…..
5. Keep pressure on Ben Rothlesberger and force him into mistakes
Stopping Willie Parker isn’t enough because this Steelers team has a lot of weapons on offense. Ben likes to run, he likes to make throws out of the pocket, and he likes to stand in the pocket while delivering the ball. Basically he is very tough to defend because he can do all three pretty well. So continuous pressure from every angle is going to be crucial in this one; blitzes up the middle and off the edge, we need to keep him guessing and prevent him from making the big play downfield to either WR Santonio Holmes or Hines Ward, his two deep threats. We don’t always need to get a sack to be successful, just knocking him down or getting a hand in his face consistently can be just as effective. And after the 4 sacks the defense produced against the Ravens last week, I think we can make that happen.
The Steelers may have changed their offensive system, but Russ Grimm and Ken Whisenhunt know this team and they know these players. They will take that knowledge and utilize it when they draw up our gameplan with all of our players taking advantage.
I’m not going to predict the scores anymore, just the winner…..and it’s the Cards over the Steelers giving them their first loss of the year and bringing us to 2-2. GO CARDS!!