As the Seattle Seahawks stopped the Los Angeles Rams from clinching a playoff spot, the bluebirds gave the Arizona Cardinals a blueprint on how to upset the Rams.
We are lucky to be here in this spot, and that’s well known already. We now of course know that the Arizona Cardinals hold its own destiny after painfully losing control of it. When the Seahawks pulled away in the second half last week against the Rams, and gave the Cardinals blueprint on how to beat said Rams, it woke up many as they’ll get one last chance.
Looking back at when these two (AZ/LAR) matched up, the Cardinals were close but never close enough to stop the rams. They were always one step behind them in that game. This is where the team should thank Ken Norton Jr. (it sounds weird even saying that).
Norton Jr. rolled out a 5-man front in the second half, in which the defensive line had multiple responsibilities:
- The defensive ends who lined up as 5, sometimes “wide 9” techs crashed the outside hip of the tackles, which is where LA runs all their jet motions and pulling linemen.
- Disrupting this small nuance of the Rams’ offense caused timing issues on play action passes and planned jet sweep runs.
- The interior defensive tackles played a multitude of shades, anything from a 3i-0-3i, or even 2-0-2, were in charge of causing chaos in the middle. Seattle used this to prevent Goff from climbing in the pocket.
- Finally, the nose tackle took on multiple blocks and even a few trap blocks to let the linebackers come in and help shut down the run.
So the scheme is there, and the Cardinals just have to execute it. Although it would be nice if the defensive line was healthy, and losing the spark-plug of energy that is Dennis Gardeck is an uphill battle. Leki Fotu and the others will have their hands full this week going against an offensive line that has been one of the best in the league this year.
Rest of defense needs to clamp down on the explosive Woods/Kupp duo
It’s no secret that Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp are one of the best wide receiver duos in the league, posting a combined 158 yards in their first matchup this year. Providing safety help over the top is absolutely needed as Patrick Peterson seems to be on the decline. Another thing to note is that Jared Goff may not even play, so this plan could change based on that front.
Whoever starts at quarterback for the Rams this week, the Arizona Cardinals blueprint will need to be refined and studied like the back of their hands. They have a chance to knock out a division rival and take their shot at the dance as the NFC’ first ever #7 seed.
Get it done, Cardinals. Win and you’re in.