Week 7 Preview: Cards @ Skins
We all know the injury list for the Arizona Cardinals and their issues at QB, but they are not going to be using any excuses this weekend. Tim Rattay will get the start and will have a gameplan tailored to him. This team is not going to make anymore excuses. And this week against the Washington Redskins, there won’t be any room for any!
So here are the key matchups to look for on Sunday:
Joe Gibbs v. Clancy Pendergast (Cards D Coord)
Yes, I realize that they are coaches and not players, but both have the reputation for being creative playcallers/gameplanners. Gibbs is an old school guy, he likes to run the football, then run it some more and then finally run it some more. He’s got an effective QB in Jason Campbell, but last weeks playcalling (I think it was 40 pass plays against 26 run plays) is not Gibbs’ style of offense. He will most likely take a more active role in calling the plays, but he will have a challenge if he tries to pound the ball with RB Clinton Portis against this Cards front seven. So far this year, the Cards defense has held RBs Shaun Alexander, Frank Gore, Willis McGahee and Willie Parker to under 100 yards rushing. If AZ Def. Coordinator Clancy Pendergast can keep the Redskins offense guessing with multiple looks, then it’s anybody’s game.
Cards O-Line & Edge v. Skins LBs
The Redskins are good against the run because they have athletic linebackers that flow well to the ball. The defensive line does a good job tying up the opposing offensive linemen, which allows the LBs to make plays. What Russ Grimm and the O-Line need to work on is getting blockers to the second level. Edgerrin James is coming into this game as the NFC’s second leading rusher and has been great at finding the creases to get extra yardage. He has looked sharp in finding the cutback lanes and has been running hard, averaging 4.0 yards a carry. And with Rattay running the passing game, we already know that Arizona will want to run the ball effectively. Simply put, running between the tackles won’t work against Washington, they are too physical. Edge needs to run off tackle and try to make some people miss. If the O-Line can come out and establish a presence from the get go, then that should open up the play action pass, something the Cards desperately need to beat this secondary.
Cards Secondary v. Santana Moss
It doesn’t matter that Moss may only be at 75% because of an injury, he is still the Skins biggest playmaker. CBs Eric Green and Rod Hood have been up and down this year. When they’ve been up, (St Louis – 3 INTs, 1 returned for a TD) they have been way up. When they have been down, (giving up a 43 yard TD to Pittsburgh on a 3rd & 23 and falling asleep against Steve Smith for a 67 yd TD) they have been way down. Campbell has a great arm and can make every throw on the field, meaning Moss is a threat everywhere he lines up. If we aren’t physical with him on the line of scrimmage, he will get behind the coverage for a big play. I said this last week against Smith and look what happened.
The Difference Maker:
Even with all of that said, there is one thing that is the difference maker for both teams in this game. We saw it against Carolina and we’re going to see it against Washington: THE KICKING GAME! It’s all about field position people. Our average starting field position last week was our own 18 yard line, while Carolina’s was their own 47 yard line. They were starting at mid field and we still led almost the entire game! This week, on the road against a very tough defense, the kicking game could not be more crucial. That includes, punts, punt team coverage, punt return yardage, kickoff coverage, kickoff return yardage and field goal opportunities. The kicking game is the difference maker in this one. The team that wins the kicking game will win the game.
I hope you realize this is a blog site for Arizona Cardinals fans, me being one of them. That being said, you’re never going to read a prediction from me in which I don’t pick us to win. I write out how I believe we can win and then I tell you THAT WE WILL WIN!! GO CARDS!!