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Cardinals vs. Giants: Offensive and defensive formations

A look back at the personnel groupings used by the Cardinals in their 25-14 win.

Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

The Arizona Cardinals ran 61 offensive plays against the New York Giants in their 25-14 win in Week 2. They had 68 defensive plays.

Let's look at the personnel groupings on both sides of the ball in the win.


I like going through the defensive formations because it is a little easier to go through.

Arizona used very little base defense against Eli Manning. They ran their standard 3-4 only 12 times all game.

They did, though, run a nickel using a three-man line on three occasions. Typically, the Cardinals only use a three-man line in base sets. But for three plays, they kept the three-man line, had two OLBs and Larry Foote, with Kevin Minter being replaced by Jerraud Powers as the nickel back.

Twice at the goalline, the defense went with five linemen, four linebackers and two safeties. Those two safeties were Rashad Johnson and Deone Bucannon. The only defensive lineman not in the game on those goalline sets was Kareem Martin. They had Matt Shaughnessy, Sam Acho, Larry Foote and Kevin Minter in as the linebackers.

The rest of the way, it was a two-man defensive line, in nickel, dime and a few seven-DB sets.

They went with their standard nickel (2-4-5) for 18 plays, but none in the final quarter. These formations keep Kevin Minter in the game, but Dan Williams leaves and Jerraud Powers comes in.

On 29 plays, it was the team's new dime set -- two linemen, three linebackers and six DBs, with the sixth DB being rookie safety Deone Bucannon, playing as a linebacker. It was used for the entire fourth quarter and only a few plays in the first half.

There were four plays with seven defensive backs. It was the four plays that Tyrann Mathieu was on the field (he officially got five snaps, but I only charted four plays). Instead of subbing Mathieu in for Rashad Johnson at safety or Jerraud Powers in the slot -- the two positions he played last season -- he came in as a seventh DB and played around the line of scrimmage. Arizona went with two down linemen and then only two linebackers -- Foote and Thomas Keiser on each of those plays.


On offense, it looked a lot like it did with Carson Palmer playing against San Diego. They predominantly used one and two tight ends.

Of their 61 plays, 23 of them were in "11" personnel -- one RB, one TE and three WRs. They ran the ball six times out of that formation and dropped back to pass 12 times.

17 times they went with "12" personnel -- one RB, two TEs and two WRs. The playcalling was even. They ran the ball eight times and dropped back to pass nine times.

Seven times they went with "13" personnel -- with three tight ends. They predictably ran the ball five of those plays and they passed twice, including a beautiful pass play pinned near their own goalline to John Carlson for 32 yards. Jonathan Dwyer was the running back in every one of these sets.

They used two RBs and two TEs in six plays, running four times and passing twice.

They went with a two-back, three-tight end (no receivers) on one play. It was the Jonathan Dwyer touchdown run.

They ran twice with two backs and one tight end.

They even ran one play (a run) with two backs, no tight end an three receivers.

Only twice was there no tight end in the game -- the only two plays John Carlson was not in the game on offense. They went with one back and four receivers twice, passing the ball each time.

Drew Stanton ran out of the shotgun 23 times which is a few less than the 27 times they did it in Week 1. Three times it was with an empty backfield. Carson Palmer ran seven such plays against the Chargers. Three out of the four sacks the Cardinals allowed were from the shotgun, once with an empty backfield.