Hurricane Ian could impact how Cardinals navigate Week 4 vs. Panthers
Sep 30, 2022, 5:10 PM | Updated: Oct 1, 2022, 7:09 pm
(Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
TEMPE — When the Arizona Cardinals kicked off practice this week, it seemed likely they’d be playing in the rain against the Carolina Panthers with Hurricane Ian making landfall in Florida on Wednesday.
And even though the hurricane made its way to North Carolina on Friday morning, it’s expected to weaken as it moves further inland. There’s potential that the matchup might avoid the brunt of the storm that hits the area.
As of Friday afternoon, Charlotte, where the Panthers call home, has a 22% chance for rain with 11 mph winds when kickoff rolls around at 1:05 p.m. Arizona time on Sunday.
The change in the forecast hasn’t stopped the Cardinals from preparing for a wet and windy one in Carolina.
“We always prepare for anything, whether it’s wet ball exchanges, things of that nature, we make sure that’s covered,” head coach Kliff Kingsbury said Friday. “It looks like hopefully it’s going to miss us for most of the game but we’ll see how it plays out.”
One thing going for both sides is Carolina’s field turf, which holds up better than traditional grass in rainy conditions.
From a game plan standpoint, that kind of weather typically calls for a heavier dose of the run game, something the Cardinals could use a jolt from.
Through three games this season, starting running back James Conner has recorded just 90 yards and one touchdown on 30 carries. As a team, Arizona’s rushing attack is middle of the road, averaging 105.3 yards per game.
Now, some of the Cardinals’ running game woes correlate to their slow starts in each of their three matchups of 2022.
But up against a Panthers defense that’s allowing 134.7 yards per game to opposing rushers — 11th most in the NFL — getting the ground game going early on could give the Cardinals that boost they’ve desperately needed over the past three weeks.
“If there’s winds and rain and what not, we’re going to have to run the ball,” Conner said Thursday. “It’s going to be harder to throw that thing. … I heard there was a good chance of rains but we just got to be ready, prepared.
“Even if it turns into a rain game, it’s going to be a full team effort with receivers blocking on the outside. We need to be running hard, everything starts up front with the line. We’re prepared for any weather it is.”
The last time the Cardinals played in inclement weather — against the Chicago Bears in 2021 — Conner saw 20 carries come his way in the victory, resulting in 75 yards. He also added an insane one-handed catch for 23 yards and a touchdown. As a team, the Cardinals ran the rock 35 times for 137 yards to go along with a pair of touchdowns courtesy of quarterback Kyler Murray.
The weather didn’t stop Murray from dialing up a couple of scores through the air, either, with the signal caller recording two more touchdowns and 123 yards on 73.3% passing (11-of-15). The less-is-more approach paid off for Murray, whose 15 pass attempts in the victory are the second-fewest in his career.
“I think it affects everybody’s game,” Murray said Wednesday. “If it is raining, we’ve got to have a plan for that. If it’s storming, we’ve got to have a plan for that. We’ll be ready to go regardless of if it’s sunny or if it’s raining.”
Don’t forget to pack your rain boots, K1.
– Cardinals OL Kelvin Beachum on those impacted by the hurricane so far:
“Really just concerned for the families in that area. I know that we got a lot of guys that are from Florida down in that area, have houses down in that area, so just making they’re first and foremost OK.”