CARDINALS CORNER

Joshua Dobbs seeing ‘night and day’ offensive growth ahead of Giants tilt

Sep 14, 2023, 3:15 PM

Joshua Dobbs attempts a pass in Week 1...

Joshua Dobbs #9 of the Arizona Cardinals attempts a pass during the second quarter against the Washington Commanders at FedExField on September 10, 2023 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)

(Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)

TEMPE — In his first showing as an Arizona Cardinals, quarterback Joshua Dobbs had a handful of plays he would have liked back, as would all of the team.

With just six Cardinals practices under his belt, it was safe to say miscues were bound to happen.

The only way around them is continued repetition and chemistry building with his teammates.

But from where Dobbs and the offense stand days away from a Week 2 matchup against the New York Giants, noticeable progress has been made in the eyes of the signal caller.

“Just being able to get on the same page, talk ball, pick each other’s mind, I know where we’re going to be whether it’s on time or we have to go out and make off-schedule plays,” Dobbs said Wednesday. “It just continues to grow each and every day. … It’s taking advantage of every single rep or manufacturing extra reps to be able to get on the same page as quickly as possible.

“It’s going to continue to grow. From where we were last Wednesday to this Wednesday, it’s like night and day just understanding each other, understanding the flow and rhythm of the offense, so just continuing to grow as we get more time on task on the field.”

For Dobbs, there are multiple areas to improve upon offensively following Week 1’s loss to the Washington Commanders. They include adding more explosive plays to the mix, limiting turnovers and eliminating as many negative plays as possible.

Taking a step forward in any and all of those could go a long way against a Giants team that will certainly have its ears pinned back after getting absolutely embarrassed by division rival Dallas Cowboys last week.

While the Cowboys special teams unit and defense contributed mightily in the 40-0 shutout behind a blocked field goal returned for a touchdown and a pick-6, Dallas’ running game did most of the heavy lifting on Sunday with Tony Pollard (twice) and KaVonte Turpin finding pay dirt. As a team, the Cowboys averaged just over four yards per carry on their way to 122 yards and the three scores.

Obviously, playing with a lead from start to finish had a big impact on the offensive output on the ground, but that type of production should have offensive coordinator Drew Petzing and running back James Conner licking their chops in the Cardinals’ run-heavy attack.

But as Dobbs mentioned Wednesday, every week is different in the NFL.

Just because the Giants were filter paper against Dallas’ run game, doesn’t mean that’ll be the case come Sunday, especially given the talent the Giants possess along a defensive line led by Dexter Lawrence.

He may not have jumped off the page last week behind four tackles and two QB hits, but his resume speaks for itself.

Since entering the league as a 2019 first-round draft pick, Lawrence has amassed 16.5 sacks, 21 tackles for loss, four forced fumbles, eight passes defensed and 28 QB hits across 65 games played (58 starts). Among the biggest positives for Lawrence is his ability to stay on the field, missing just two career games.

And if the play doesn’t go his way, New York has bookend options and defensive ends Leonard Williams and A’Shawn Robinson to deal with.

The second level doesn’t get any easier with the duo of Kayvon Thibodeaux and Azeez Ojulari, the older brother of Cardinals rookie pass rusher BJ Ojulari, roaming behind the line.

Thibodeaux got his feet wet as a rookie last season behind four sacks, five passes defensed, six tackles for loss and 13 QB hits.

His teammate Ojulari meanwhile racked up 5.5 sacks and seven QB hits as a second-year pro in 2022 despite playing just seven games (five starts) due to a calf injury after logging a full season as a rookie.

His availability issues could come into play against the Cardinals, as the linebacker was limited for a second-straight day of practice on Thursday with a hamstring issue.

Not having to face a playmaker like Ojulari would be a big win for the Cardinals offense.

That doesn’t mean it’ll be a walk in the park, though, given New York’s coaching chops on the defensive side of the ball.

“It’s a really well-coached team,” offensive coordinator Drew Petzing said Thursday. “Things didn’t go the way they wanted it to in Week 1, but I think they have a lot of talent, I think they’re really well coached, I think the scheme creates a lot of different problems.

“Certainly (Giants defensive coordinator Wink Martindale) was somebody who we played against when I was in Cleveland twice a year. I have a lot of respect for him and how he does things, so we got our hands full this week. We got to get to work and get going here.”

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