Marshall Faulk (@marshallfaulk) October 21, 2014
Hall of Famer Marshall Faulk has been asking SB Nation questions every week to help preview the week of NFL games. This week, he has a question directed at us at ROTB and to Bleeding Green Nation.
This is his question:
Arizona and Philly have two of the best dual-threat running backs in the league. I call these two guys "Three-Down Running Backs." To be GMC Professional Grade, you must be calculated in your approach. Let's talk defense: If the opposing running back has a career day in yardage against your team's defense, which skill set-running or receiving-would hurt your team the most? Let me know why.
I will answer this question a couple of different ways. What is interesting is the Eagles have two dual threat backs in LeSean (Don't Call Me Shady Anymore) McCoy and Darren Sproles. Faulk is clearly referring to McCoy in this question, though.
If I were to answer which skill set would hurt the Cardinals defense more -- as in more likely, I would say the receiving would be how it would happen.
The fact is the Cardinals are just fantastic against the run, and they are doing it without their best players. They are again number one in the league against the run. So if you thought McCoy would have a big game, it would be because of the mismatches in the passing game he creates.
We know the Cardinals defense is most vulnerable in the middle of the field, so I can see screen passes or pass in the flat turning into big plays. But as we have seen in other games, a big play or two in the passing game hasn't kept the Cardinals from winning five games.
However, if I interpret the question as being which skill set would hurt the Cardinals the most, as in which would be more damaging, then it would be the running skill set. While I think it is less likely it will happen, but if McCoy were to go off in the running game, that really ruins Arizona's defensive scheme. The defense is designed to take away the running game. If McCoy gains a lot of yards on the ground, Arizona really has no chance.
In summary, McCoy's receiving skills are the most likely thing to hurt the Cardinals defense, but a breakout game on the ground would be devastating.
Are either likely? I don't know.
Arizona held McCoy to 79 yards on the ground last season. He had 36 from receptions. But he did not find the end zone. The Cards will be in good shape if that is how things shake out against McCoy on Sunday.