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Offensive and defensive formations from Cardinals/Texans

A look at what personnel groups were used.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

One thing I personally like to look at are personnel groups that the Arizona Cardinals run.

I charted all 74 offensive plays and 41 defensive plays in terms of personnel.

On offense it is much more telling because the offense controls the playcalling. On defense, it is always based on the offensive personnel, so it is hard to say whether or not it is a defensive philosophy.

In future games, I will also break down playcalling (run vs. pass) and results in personnel groups, but for now, it will just be a way to look at what they ran.


The offense was on the field a lot. They ran 74 plays, compared to Houston's 41.

The most common formation was one back, two tight ends and two receivers. That was used 30 times.

The next most common was one back, one tight end and three receivers. This was used in 19 plays. Two of those plays were with an empty backfield, as the running back was lined up as a receiver.

They went with one back and four receivers for 12 plays, three of which were with an empty backfield.

Four times they went with two backs, one tight end an two receivers. Each time was with Robert Hughes as a fullback.

They also went three plays with two backs, two tight ends and one receiver. Again, that second back was always Hughes as a tight end.

On three plays, they were in clock formation -- when they did kneeldowns. There was one to end the first half and two to end the game.

They went with one back, three tight ends and a receiver twice.

On one play, they had two backs (Hughes as a fullback), no tight ends and three receivers.

The Carson Palmer touchdown pass to Larry Fitzgerald was with 11 personnel. The negated touchdown to John Carlson was in 12 personnel.

Drew Stanton's and Logan Thomas' touchdown passes both came with an empty backfield, one back and four receivers.


With defense, it is harder to glean information. The formations are reacting to the offensive packages they see.

Houston only ran 41 plays. Arizona ran its base defense (three linemen, four linebackers and four defensive backs) 14 times.

They went with five defensive backs 16 times (2-4-5 formation).

They used their dime or dollar packages 11 times. The personnel was two linemen, three linebackers, three corners and three safeties, with one in the box like a linebacker.

Now, some explaining.

After talking to Matt Shaughnessy last year and listening to Kareem Martin on the radio, the positions are sometimes hard to define. It would look like four down linemen and three down linemen, but outside of base, the Cardinals technically run two linemen. Sometimes the outside backers will line up with their hand in the dirt. That is more out of preference.

For the Cardinals defense, their outside backers will sometime look like a defensive end. Based on what Shaughnessy said to me last year, he only plays OLB, even though he sometimes puts his hand on the ground. It is just his preference.

Likewise, rookie Kareem Martin said on the air that he is only playing the defensive end position on the D-line (Calais Campbell's position). But he sometimes comes in on nickel and dime packages lined up outside Dockett or Campbell. He is playing OLB in the Cards defense. Bruce Arians also has said that Martin will play outside some.

So for my purposes for defining personnel groupings, that's how I go. It may look like a four-man line. Some dime looks appeared to be 4-1-6 formations. You can call it that, but it is still a 2-3-6.