The Cardinals are struggling to put together a complete game. There will be no time for excuses as they have a quick turnaround at home against the 2-4 Denver Broncos. Denver is coming off of a close loss to the Rams, where Todd Gurley torched their defense for 208 yards rushing. Can the Cardinals finally see their run game flourish? Here are the keys to victory.
- Stop the Run
“HELLO PRIORITY NUMBER ONE!” This has been a thorn in the side of the Arizona Cardinals defense for the entire season to date. Going up against the 10th ranked running offense of Denver will not make this task any easier. Eventually, you have to expect that this defensive line will stick to their gap integrity, ensuring a better result on the field. If individuals on the line and in the box try to do things on their own, you will see another running back go for 100+ yards rushing.
- Run the ball
2015-2016 seem like such distant seasons when talking about David Johnson and the Arizona Cardinals running game. It wasn’t long ago when you would see the star running back on the cover of magazines as the next”unstoppable back in this league. But 2018 is here in full view, where the Cardinals are DEAD LAST in rushing the ball. There are many factors here that play into this; a shotty offensive line, an uncertain David Johnson, and questionable/predictable play calling. One thing is for certain, this stacked Broncos defense will not let David Johnson run for 208 yards like Todd Gurley did last week. If the Cardinals can somehow muster up 100 yards in the run game, the offense may be able to sustain longer drives, which means more field goals/TD opportunities and a refreshed defense.
- Continue active pass rush
These last two weeks, in particular, have been phenomenal for Chandler Jones. The defensive line had 6 total deflections of Kirk Cousins when he dropped back to pass. Sack fumbles are now becoming the norm with Markus Golden and Chandler Jones racing towards the opposing quarterbacks at full speed. If the Cardinals can continue the pass rush, a shaky and inconsistent Case Keenum may lead to more interceptions than touchdowns. This bodes well for a defense that is hungry to score and celebrate more in the end zone.
- Use the Hurry-Up offense
7 play. 69 yards. Touchdown. This was a thing of BEAUTY. This drive included:
- Larry Fitzgerald for 15 yards
- Ricky Seals-Jones for 18 yards.
- David Johnson to MIN 19 for 14 yards.
- Larry Fitzgerald to MIN 3 for 16 yards.
- Defensive Pass Interference on Minnesota 2 yards.
- Touchdown, David Johnson 1 Yard Rush.
The run game will certainly not get as much love in the hurry-up offense, but the passing game CLEARLY flourishes. I expect and hope that the Cardinals will utilize a faster offense to catch Denver off-guard. Josh Rosen looked absolutely comfortable in a hostile environment running at a faster pace. Let’s utilize that.
- Take the points when you can
Let me make this simple. If you are on the 1-yard line and it is 4th down. JUST TAKE THE POINTS. No need to get cute against this Denver Defense that will only be more amped to put up a goal-line stand. If you want to run the ball 4 times on the 1-yard line that’s fine, but please, PLEASE, do not try to pass. This team needs every point they can get, let Phil Dawson chip it in.
IF the Arizona Cardinals can do these things, they will certainly have a chance to win on Thursday Night.