Joseph: Cardinals’ big lead dictated LB Zaven Collins’ workload vs. Titans

Sep 16, 2021, 3:15 PM
Cardinals LB Zaven Collins. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)...
Cardinals LB Zaven Collins. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

TEMPE, Ariz. — Both Zaven Collins and Jordan Hicks started in the Arizona Cardinals’ Week 1 win over the Tennessee Titans.

The latter, however, was on the field much more than his rookie counterpart, with Hicks seeing 61 snaps (91%) compared to Collins’ 22 (34%).

A lot of that had to do with Arizona’s impressive start to the game. The Cardinals found themselves up 24-6 by halftime, leaving the Titans to abandon their run-first mentality in the hopes Tennessee’s passing game could revive the stalled offense. Spoiler: It did not.

“Every week the gameplan’s gonna change,” defensive coordinator Vance Joseph said Thursday. “We thought it was gonna be a heavy, heavy, heavy run, so Zaven was gonna play a bunch of snaps. But once we got a three- or four-score lead, it became a nickel game. He lost probably 20-25 snaps with it being a three-wide receiver personnel game.

“But it’s strictly game plan. It can be different this week and different in Week 3 or 4, but every week who we play and what our guys do best, that’s our job to find it out and put it into our game plan. Last week it was more for Jordan to be the play-caller and Zaven to play more base downs.”

Joseph’s switch in blueprints helped the Cardinals cruise to a 38-13 victory over what many expected to be a playoff team this offseason.

Two-time NFL rushing king Derrick Henry was held to under 60 yards and the duo of A.J. Brown and Julio Jones combined for 78 yards and a touchdown on seven catches (14 targets).

Hicks finished with four tackles, while Collins turned in three in his Cardinals debut.

Next up is a Minnesota Vikings team that presents a similar test for the Cardinals. But every week is different in the NFL.

“Right now, Zaven is playing really well in his role, played really well last week,” Joseph said.

“Hicksy played well, Isaiah played well, so right now we’re trying to figure out who we are as a defense and what we do best. And every week right now it may change until we find out what we do absolutely best.”


– Defensive lineman J.J. Watt on how he felt the defense did as a whole on Sunday:

“I think overall as a defense we played well. I think that we still, myself included, have a lot of things we can improve on and get better on and that’s the exciting part for me, that we can put together a performance like that and still have so much on the table and so many things we can improve and get better at.”

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Joseph: Cardinals’ big lead dictated LB Zaven Collins’ workload vs. Titans