How often in the past have we put ourselves in a position to where we as an organization can control our own destiny? The answer: one time – the 1998 season, which was also the last time we reached the playoffs. But on Sunday we have an opportunity to move up in our division and with a little luck, maybe come out on top!
The Arizona Cardinals travel to take on the St. Louis Rams on Sunday, and everything is in our favor. Our offense is putting up solid and consistent numbers, our defense is rockin’ and rollin’, and our special teams are becoming more effective week in and week out. The Rams on the other hand, well, they’re struggling. There’s no other way to say it really, they’ve been getting hammered by injuries and look like a shell of their former selves. While I don’t think you should ever underestimate anyone in the NFL, I see good things in our future if we follow a few simple keys:
1. Just give the ball to Edge and run it down their throats!
The Rams defense is ranked 24 overall in the league, and is #9 in pass defense. But they are #29 in run defense, giving up an average of 157 yards per game on the ground. If I’m the Cards coaching staff, I’m planning to hand the ball off to RB Edgerrin James a minimum of 35 times this game and just let him hammer away. The Rams soft tackling and porous run defense will have no answer for James, who is the leagues number 8 rusher with 3 TDs on the season so far. In this one, I think the QB (whoever it may be) will really be a non-factor. I think that the coaching staff will primarily go with Matt Leinart and look to boost his confidence in this game if the Cards get a comfortable lead in the first half. And to do that we need to do these simple things: give James the rock early, give it to him often, and dominate the line of scrimmage.
2. Defensive front needs to keep up the heat on backup QB Frerotte
Let’s face it, St Louis is without their playmaker RB Steven Jackson, and they are without their pro bowl QB Marc Bulger; there is an opportunity for us to blow this game wide open. Without Jackson, the Rams probably won’t even try to establish a real ground game, instead trying to attack us through the air with their one star who is left standing, WR Torry Holt. But Gus Frerotte is not Marc Bulger, he will make mistakes if pressured and turn the ball over. He will be working behind a tattered offensive line that is starting their fifth different line up in as many games, so I would look for Cards Def Coord Clancy Pendergast to really take advantage of that mismatch and to blitz Frerotte like crazy. Force the bad throw and it’s six the other way.
3. Double Team Torry Holt wherever he is on the field
Torry Holt has never met a Cards defense he didn’t like. He has torched the Cardinals in every meeting for the last 3 years with at least 100 yds receiving and a TD per game. That’s just ridiculous. He is the Rams’ only playmaker left, so the Cards need to take him out of the game by playing the Free Safety over top along with the Corner manned up. And who is our Free Safety? Why it’s Terrance Holt, Torry’s little brother……that should be fun to watch!
4. To the special teams unit, two words – DANTE HALL
Now for the most part, our special teamers have been stepping up and playing decent ball. But Dante Hall showed that he’s still got some magic in those legs as he returned a punt 85 yards for the Rams lone TD of the day against Dallas last Sunday. If the special teams can contain him and not give him those cutback lanes and if the secondary can take Holt out of the passing game, then I think we have a real chance at a blowout.
Now remember, I don’t predict scores. But, if the Cards stick to their game plan and continue to play tough, disciplined football, then they win this game in a big way: Cards improve to 3-2 and St Louis drops to 0-5.
Now Pittsburgh and Seattle face off this weekend too, and I would look for Pittsburgh to take care of business and knock Seattle down a few pegs. So that would mean…..we’re 3-2 & Seattle is 3-2, tied for first in the West!
Don’t look to far ahead, focus on one game at a time Cards fans…….but HOW CAN YOU NOT GET EXCITED!! GO CARDS!!