What Wolf is watching for when the Cardinals head to Cincinnati
The 0-3-1 Arizona Cardinals will be in a battle to break into the win column at the 0-4 Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday.
On Friday’s episode of 98.7 Arizona’s Sports Station’s Doug & Wolf, Ron Wolfley discussed what he is watching for in the Cards’ fifth game.
Will the Cardinals keep the Bengals the worst rushing team in the league or will Andy Dalton operate in a three-dimensional offense?
The Bengals have picked up the fewest rushing yards in NFL. Through four weeks, they and Washington are the only teams yet to crack 200 yards on the ground.
The main culprit is not halfback Joe Mixon, it is the offensive line.
Dalton has taken the second-most sacks in the league (19) and Mixon has not come close to a 100-yard game (he had four last year).
Wofley kept his message simple: “The onus is on the defense to manhandle an offensive line that has made a living of being manhandled.”
Can the Cardinals build on the scheme they used last week against Seattle in order to be more balanced?
“They (the Cardinals) used 11 personnel: one running back, one tight end and three wide,” Wofley said about last week’s strategy. “They used 12 personnel: one back, two tight ends, two wide. I saw them use 12 personnel more than they had in any other game.”
Wofley discussed that this strategy gives the Cards an opportunity to threaten to run the ball more. With fewer receivers and more tight ends tucked in, Arizona could have a better chance at blocking for halfbacks David Johnson and Chase Edmonds.
Through weeks 1-3, the Cards threw the ball nearly 75% of the time. Last Sunday, that percentage dropped to 58. The strategy didn’t work against Seattle because the Seahawks have an elite rush defense. The Bengals do not, so it could be more effective on Sunday.
“It doesn’t have to be the best run attack or even gain four yards per carry,” Wolfley said. “But they have to keep the defense honest. Pick up critical third and shorts and run it effectively on first and goal situations.”
Can the Cardinals block five down?
The Bengals use aggressive rush packages which doesn’t bode well for Arizona’s struggling blockers. They use a Bear Front, a formation that is typically saved for goal-line situations, even on sub packages.
“I’ve seen them do this against Russell Wilson and Mason Rudolph,” Wolfley said. “It’s not odd if you wanna stop a team from running the ball. It seems odd in sub packages. Odd unless there is a mobile quarterback who is 5-foot-10 and you want to collapse the pocket around that mobile quarterback.
“That’s what teams have tried to do against Wilson for years and this is what teams may try against Kyler Murray going forward, starting with Cincinnati.”