ARIZONA CARDINALS

Budda Baker hints at blitzing Rams’ Matt Stafford but ‘can’t spoil sauce’

Jan 15, 2022, 7:11 AM
Budda Baker #3 of the Arizona Cardinals reacts to his fumble recovery during a 37-20 win over the L...
Budda Baker #3 of the Arizona Cardinals reacts to his fumble recovery during a 37-20 win over the Los Angeles Rams at SoFi Stadium on October 03, 2021 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Keep your quarterback clean. That’s pretty sound offensive strategy.

But what remains unknown is the Arizona Cardinals’ defensive gameplan against the Los Angeles Rams offense and quarterback Matthew Stafford on Monday night.

Cardinals safety Budda Baker will play a big part in whatever strategy defensive coordinator Vance Joseph chooses to deploy.

And on Thursday night’s Big Red Rage, the Pro Bowler provided some insight as to what the defensive meeting rooms might be talking about this week as the team prepares for the Wild Card matchup.

“No quarterback in the NFL likes to get sacked,” Baker said on Thursday’s Big Red Rage. “And every quarterback in the NFL, if they’re accustomed to getting pressured or sacked by D-linemen, of course they’re gonna possibly have those lapses when they think somebody’s coming and they’re not coming.

“I can’t really spoil the sauce to you, but of course the defense’s job is to get the ball back to the offense. So we’re gonna try to do that each and every time we’re on the field.”

The Cardinals sacked Stafford three times while pressuring him on 30.3% of his dropbacks in the two teams’ last meeting. Only the 49ers have applied a higher percentage (37.8%) of pressure on Stafford’s dropbacks this season, and that came in last Sunday’s 27-24 San Francisco win that included sacking the Rams QB five times.

With the potential return of Cardinals defensive end J.J. Watt, just having the three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year back on the practice field after the laundry list of damages his shoulder has had a positive impact on the team as a whole.

“It was huge to see him,” Baker said. “Just seeing him with the work ethic that he showed when he got the surgery, he was in the treatment room every day trying to get right. He’s lived in the treatment room, done things right to get out on the field and like he said, he knew this team was special, he knew that we had a chance to possibly go to the playoffs and he continued to work each and every week.

“Now we see the fruits of his labor that he did and he gets an opportunity to be on the field, which he hasn’t been on the field in a lot of games. It’s definitely cool and crazy to see 99 back in there. It’s definitely going to be special.”

As for what Baker expects to see from Rams head coach Sean McVay, the safety knows all about the Rams pre-snap motions and movement — or “eye candy” as LB Jordan Hicks told the Big Red Rage — after playing Los Angeles twice already this season.

After Arizona went 1-1 against the Rams with the 37-20 victory coming on the road, Baker is confident the Cardinals can go into SoFi Stadium and get the job done in the Wild Card round.

“It’s very hard because a lot of his personnel, a lot of his formations have the same thing,” he explained of McVay’s offense. “One thing could be a run, one thing could be play-action, one thing could be quick game and it’s all out of the same formation.

“So it’s definitely difficult to go against that and then especially when they go fast, guys are just jetting around, like Jordan said, with the eye candy and next thing you know there’s a big gap. So just eliminating that kind of eye candy that Jordan was talking about and just focusing on your job and what you’re supposed to do one play at a time. Definitely feel like it’s going to be a good outcome.”

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