ARIZONA CARDINALS

DC Vance Joseph, Cardinals defense face tall order in Baltimore Ravens

Sep 12, 2019, 5:35 PM | Updated: Sep 13, 2019, 8:08 am

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)...

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

TEMPE, Ariz. — If you double the Arizona Cardinals’ score from last week, they still would have lost by five to their upcoming opponent in the Baltimore Ravens.

Granted, Baltimore’s win was against a Miami Dolphins team that’s doing just about everything to secure the top pick in next year’s NFL Draft, but plays still have to be made to put up 59 on an opponent.

This isn’t the Detroit Lions, and defensive coordinator Vance Joseph knows this.

“That offense is quite special,” Joseph said. “Since Lamar [Jackson] taken over they’ve averaged I think 225 [yards] a game rushing on the ground, and that’s historic numbers. … It’s definitely well-coached and it’s tough and they have the personnel to get it done.”

While the Ravens boast a run-heavy offense behind newcomer Mark Ingram, totaling 265 yards on the ground as a team, Jackson quieted the naysayers who doubted Baltimore’s ability to move the chains through the air last week.

Jackson went berserk in Miami, throwing for 324 yards and five touchdowns on 17-of-20 passing. One of his main targets, rookie wideout Marquise Brown, accounted for 147 yards and two scores on four catches, and achieved those numbers in only 14 snaps.

“[Jackson’s] a first-round pick, he won the Heisman [Trophy] for a reason. He can throw the football,” Joseph said. “… So you can’t disrespect the pass game, and that makes it tough because you’ve got to make a decision. Are you going to load up the run game and let him throw for 400 yards or are you going to play in between and not dictate the game? So it’s going to be a challenge to do both. And after last weekend, you have to do both now.”

And if it’s not Jackson or Ingram, tight end Mark Andrews could be the thorn in Arizona’s side. Andrews heads into the contest after catching eight balls for 108 yards and a score. Those numbers resemble Lions TE T.J. Hockenson’s Week 1 totals; he burned the Cardinals for more than 100 yards and a touchdown.

Looking to counterbalance the high octane offense, the Cardinals turn to a number of players defensively, most notably linebacker Jordan Hicks.

Hicks, the QB on D, tallied 14 tackles in the team’s 27-27 tie and will need every ounce of last week’s performance and then some with an opponent of this caliber.

“The things that we want to get done, it goes through Jordan’s football IQ, and so far he’s been excellent as far as getting guys lined up, making checks and audibles,” Joseph said of the linebacker. “He’s been excellent, obviously, he played physical Sunday, making tackles all over the place, and he’s really good in coverage. That’s what most MIKE backers can’t do is cover, but he can do it all.”

Another player to keep an eye on in Sunday’s contest is rookie cornerback Byron Murphy, who looks to take another step in his growth as an NFL player.

“Murph, for his first start, I thought played very solid,” Joseph said. “Obviously he had some issues sometimes in coverage here. He’s a rookie, he was a little soft in the last part of the game, which the game got tight. And being a young guy, you don’t want to be that guy.

“But as far as how he tackled and his physical traits, they obviously showed up on Sunday so he’s going to get better and better each week he plays.”

And you can’t forget about LB Terrell Suggs, who may carry the same demeanor in the locker room leading up to the matchup, but should have some added motivation against a team he spent 16 years with. Especially with it being the Ravens’ home opener.

“I’m sure he’s excited after playing his entire career at Baltimore, and winning championships there and being a rookie of the year there and being a player of the year there, and that place is a special place,” Joseph said when asked about Suggs’ return to M&T Bank Stadium. “I mean they won a lot of games there. They do it right. It’s kind of the blueprint of what you want your program to look like and he was a big part of making that program that.”

A Ravens loss is a Cardinals gain, as Suggs showed he still had the juice to get it done, recording five tackles, three of which were for loss, two sacks and a forced fumble.

The added veteran presence in the locker room and his high motor in practice only provide more to a defense looking to make steps forward from last season.

“I’m sure he’s going to be excited to go back and play,” Joseph added. “He wants to win the game obviously but he’s been awesome for us as a leader and obviously watching him play Sunday, he was the best player on the field on defense in his 17th season so hopefully we get the same guy on Sunday.”

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