Will Arizona Cardinals Defense Step Up Against The Eagles?
Can the Arizona Cardinals defense step up and slow down the Eagles potent offense and pull out a victory in front of their home crowd?
The Arizona Cardinals defense showed up and showed out during their road victory against the Carolina Panthers. After another notoriously slow start by the offense, the defense was able to limit the Panthers offense to just 220 total yards.
They were also able to shut down the Panthers rushing attack and their superstar RB Christian McCaffrey as they held him to just 27 yards on eight carries which appeared to be the focal point on defense after McCaffrey ran for over 100 yards in his two games prior.
The Cardinals are fifth in the NFL against the run and are 15th in yards per carry as they will need another top notch performance against the run as they prepare to try and slow down the Eagles duo of Miles Sanders and Kenneth Gainwell.
Stopping the run is key for the Arizona Cardinals defense
Sanders will be fresh off a stellar performance as he gained a career high 134 yards on the ground against a stout Jacksonville Jaguars defense. The Cardinals defense only allowed the Panthers to score nine points as the defense was dominant.
It’s been a long time coming for this victory as it was the Cardinals first win against the Panthers since 2013 and their first regular season win at Carolina since 2002. JJ Watt, Zach Allen and Dennis Gardeck were the standouts as they were able to pressure Panthers QB Baker Mayfield making it difficult for him to get the ball off. Watt and company hope to have a similar effect on QB Jalen Hurts and the undefeated Eagles.
The players in the front seven will have to stay aware and on their toes due to Hurts’ mobility and ability to gain huge chunks of yardage with his feet as he is second in the league in rushing yards among quarterbacks. Allen could be the player on the Cardinals defense who could make the biggest impact as he should have a clear advantage as long as he can win the one-on one matchups as opponents have shifted extra protection trying to keep Watt out of the backfield.
Zach Allen and Dennis Gardeck Do Some Damage
Now in his fourth season Allen is finally showing consistency and making big plays. If anyone deserved the game ball last week it was Gardeck as he recorded five tackles, one tackle for loss, one QB hit, an interception and one pass defended while only playing 38% of the defensive snaps.
He may not possess all the tools to be an every down player but it’s evident how much Gardeck impacts the game whenever he’s on the field. His small stature along with his power gives him an advantage as he generates pressure on quarterbacks and even if Gardeck can’t physically get his hands on Hurts he can still make him uncomfortable and force him out of the pocket and get him out of his comfort zone.
The secondary must play as well as the front seven has and match their intensity and be able to cover long enough to allow them to disrupt plays. CB’s Byron Murphy Jr., Trayvon Mullen, and Marco Wilson better have their cleats tightened and laced up because the Eagles have one of the best WR corps in the NFL and Hurts doesn’t mind spreading the ball around to his plethora of weapons.
The Cardinals will have to contend with one of the best WR’s in the league in A.J. Brown as we can expect Cardinals defensive coordinator Vance Joseph to have one of his safeties shadow him all over the field, most likely Jalen Thompson who had an interception in the win last week. Hopefully the Arizona Cardinals defense can continue their stellar play and pull off the upset at home.
(Statistics provided by Pro-Football-Reference)