In a rush to be tested

Posted by Darren Urban on November 21, 2013 – 11:00 am

The Cardinals are second in the NFL in rushing defense heading into Week 12, allowing just 81.4 yards a game (The Jets are first, at 73.2.) But as the Cardinals head down the stretch with their final six games, that ranking will be tested and how the Cards hold up may go a long way in determining how real their playoff hopes will be.

Of the Cards’ final six opponents, all but one rank in the top half of the NFL rushing the ball and three are in the top six — including the top two rushing teams in the league, Philadelphia (150.6 yards a game) and Seattle (147.9). The others are San Francisco (sixth, 141.0), Indianapolis (15th, 112.9), Tennessee (16th, 112.3) and St. Louis (22nd, 99.4).

(How the Cardinals run the ball themselves will make a difference too — Arizona is 25th in the NFL at 85.6 yards a game — but that’s a topic for another post.)

Defensive coordinator Todd Bowles came into the season saying he wanted the Cardinals to stop the run first and his players have often echoed it. That wasn’t the case last season and it often bit the Cards. This year, only three times have the Cards given up more than 56 yards to the other team’s leading rusher. Of course, in all three instances, the Cardinals will play those teams again, with the Rams (Daryl Richardson, 63 yards), 49ers (Frank Gore, 101 yards) and Seahawks (Marshawn Lynch, 94 yards) still out there. Richardson is no longer the Rams go-to guy but Zac Stacy, although Stacy has looked good. No reason to dwell on what Gore and Lynch bring; they are among the best in the NFL and the Cards have seen that up close and personal too many times.

Next week against NFL leading rusher Shady McCoy and Chip Kelly’s new-look offense will be interesting as well.

There’s a reason it’s a football clichĂ© that teams must first stop the run. The Cardinals need to live it as gospel.


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Posted in Blog | 15 Comments »

15 Responses to “In a rush to be tested”

  1. By Mike G on Nov 21, 2013 | Reply

    Hey Darren–Hope all is well! –Nice write up on Harold Goodwin and his life experiences– shows you what the important things in life are. On to the Cardinals
    – their run defense has been good so far. Really looking forward to the game on Sunday. I think it will be a good one. Last years Indy – Arian’s story just adds to an emotional game against 2 good teams. I believe stopping the run this week is huge in forcing Indy to go one dimensional. Cards have to limit turnovers and play a clean game. I hope the team comes out strong and shows some good emotion from the start. Cardinals should be able to run the ball better than last week just by playing at home. I hope Palmer’s improvement with the offense continues. Really like what I see from the tight ends the last few weeks. Darren–Of the six teams left on the schedule– whose running game do you think creates the most problems for Arizona????? Seattle????

  2. By Darren Urban on Nov 21, 2013 | Reply

    Mike G —

    RE: Run games

    I think if you are running like any of those teams: Seattle, SF, Philly — it can be an issue.

  3. By BLAKE on Nov 21, 2013 | Reply

    hey darren,
    Just curious but did the cardinals retire the all red uniforms and if not when or will they ever ware them again?

  4. By Darren Urban on Nov 21, 2013 | Reply

    Blake —

    RE: Red-on-red

    They aren’t “retired” but I don’t expect to see them anytime soon.

    Uh, yeah, shows what I know:

  5. By georgiebird on Nov 21, 2013 | Reply

    Re: Stop the run??????
    The Jets held the Bills to 1.8 yards a carry last week but lost the game 37-14.
    And the Jets ran for almost 6 ypc.
    There is so much more to winning football games like:
    1) keeping turnovers to a minimum = 0
    2) standout special teams

    How do you stop the run???? Add an extra guy to the box- very dangerous for a gambling defense against a real QB.

  6. By Darren Urban on Nov 21, 2013 | Reply

    Georgie —

    RE: Stopping run

    Sure there is more. Of course there is more. No one is saying there isn’t.

    But if the game starts and the Colts, for instance, run all over the Cards from jump, I’d bet the Cards are in trouble.

  7. By ored on Nov 21, 2013 | Reply

    when the offense knows they can grind on you for 1st downs and the only way you can slow it is to load the box,then you’re in trouble,defense tires and offense is sitting on the bench and their passing percentage goes way up,49ers know this well,and if it works for them,you can be certain other teams with good ground games use the same tactic.nobody said it was going to be easy,that’s one reason turnovers and field position are so important,especially for the stretch runs.

  8. By georgiebird on Nov 21, 2013 | Reply

    If the Colts, for instance, PASS all over the Cardinals from jump, I’d bet the Cards are in trouble.
    Point here is:last year the Cards stopped the run got killed by the pass, next game the opposite would happen. Can’t overcompensate for pass or run against good teams and expect to win.

  9. By Darren Urban on Nov 21, 2013 | Reply

    Georgie —

    RE: Overcompensate

    In other news, the sky is blue.

    I think that goes without saying.

  10. By John The Draft Guy on Nov 21, 2013 | Reply


    When you have probowl superstar inside LBs like the cards have in Washington and Dansby, you do not need to commit a safety to the box.

    Obviously you have never played or coached this game because there is nothing worse than a offense imposing their will by running the ball 4-5 yards a pop 80 yards down the field.

    A big pass is one person not doing their job, a blown coverage, or a well designed play. All can be fixed. But when someone runs the ball down your throat and you cant do a thing about it, it takes everything out of you.

    The cards have been great against the run, giving up just one hundred yard runner in 10 games. When you take away the run, you now can get those pass rushers off the edge. It also limits what an offense can do in the redzone, which may be why Arizona is 9th in scoring defense and 6-4

  11. By georgiebird on Nov 21, 2013 | Reply

    In other news: Gray skies are gonna to clear up- put on a happy face.

  12. By Dre on Nov 21, 2013 | Reply

    I think the Cards are going to have to take a page from the game with Carolina Panthers. Not only do we have to stop the Colts running-backs but also keep Andrew Luck from running for first downs or even touchdowns. I know the Card’s defense is more then capable to completely keep the Colts ground game to a bare minimum especially knowing how much BA…WANTS TO WIN THIS GAME.

    How will the players respond for their coach in this game is the MAGIC question. I wish I lived in Vegas this week…

  13. By Eazy E on Nov 22, 2013 | Reply

    I’m glad we’re a great run defense but it really isn’t that important these days compared to 5, 10 years ago. A great defense needs to be able to stop the run but moreso turnovers, 3rd down defense, pass defense, sacks and pressures/hurries, and hits and knockdowns, those things are more important by a mile honestly.

  14. By Dr. G. on Nov 22, 2013 | Reply

    Darrren, Are the 46 active / 7 inactive player list a last minute decision? Or, does the league have time-frame rules for this? I appreciate that you post them when you know.
    Thank you…

  15. By Darren Urban on Nov 22, 2013 | Reply

    Dr. G —

    RE: Inactives

    The inactive list must be submitted 90 minutes prior to kickoff.

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