Welcome to week two of the NFL season.
Today’s gameday thread will be slightly different, as Mitch09 has given us five things to watch in the game today.
Enjoy the game and go Cardinals.
1. Pass Protection. Will BA give some pass protection help to LT John Wetzel on WOLB Jabaal Sheard? Last week Wetzel struggled versus Ziggy Ansuh and Anthony Zettel. Few adjustments were made, particularly on a key 3rd and 6 to start the 4th quarter, when Zettel dipped and ripped his way past Wetzel to sack Palmer.
2. RB By Committee. Will the Cardinals get some production fro the new RB by committee, featuring Kerwynn Williams, Andre Ellington, Chris Johnson and Elijhaaa Penny? BA raved about the Colts' front 7 this week, saying how well they handled Todd Gurley last week. Will the Cardinals be able to move the ball on the ground or through the air with their RBs?
3. Defensive Matchups. Will the Cardinals pass rushers Markus Golden and Chandler Jones have a big day versus Jacoby Brissett? Can they keep contain and relegate him to the pocket? How do the Cardinals' secondary match up with the Colts' skill players? Last week, Golden Tate had a productive day versus Tyrann Mathieu and James Bettcher did not counter by switching Patrick Peterson over to him. This week, it would seem a given that Peterson cover T.Y. Hilton, the Colts' speedy and versatile WR. That would mean Justin Bethel would match up with Donte Moncrief. But, herein lies the main issue for the Cardinals. Who plays centerfield?
Last week Antione Bethea was used there and was ineffective. This week in man coverage it would seem that the best option the Cardinals have for covering TE Jack Doyle is Tyvon Branch, as Branch has the size and speed to run with Doyle When Tyrann Mathieu isn't playing nickel CB, can he play centerfield? That has not been a strength for him to this point in his career. How about Budda Baker? Budda compensates for a lack of blazing speed with excellent anticipation and a nose for the ball. But, he only was given two snaps on defense last week. The speediest option is Rudy Ford, but is he ready to assume a key role? The Colts reportedly are starting their 1st round draft pick FS Malik Hooker (taken two spots ahead of LB Haason Reddick at #15). Because the Cardinals appear to still lack a true centerfielder, will they regret passing on Malik Hooker? If LB Haason Reddick has another good day tackling and covering this week's RBs Frank Gore and Marlon Mack and blitzing Brissett, then the Hooker debate could be all the more moot, particularly if Budda Baker can pick up the slack at FS.
4. Special Teams. Will the Cardinals win the special teams battle? Last week the Cardinals fared surprisingly well on special teams, but suffered a real momentum setback when Phil Dawson uncharacteristically shanked a 32 yard field goal attempt right before the end of the first half. Punter Andy Lee was excellent and the cover teams were solid, thanks to tackles by Penny and Ford. Will the Cardinals have turned a corner here or will they be lamenting more game changing gaffes?
5. QB Play. Will Carson Palmer bounce back from his turnover prone week 1 performance? While he will be missing RB David Johnson, WR John Brown, LT D.J. Humphries, RG Mike Iupati and (quite probably) TE Jermaine Gresham, the focus of the offense should be on spreading the ball around and taking whatever the Colts' defense gives them. Jared Goff was able to find holes in the Colts' secondary last week. Will Palmer be able to do so this week? Will he find a rhythm? If not, would BA be amenable to turn to Blaine Gabbert for a spark? Would Gabbert even be active this week? With as many injuries as the Cardinals currently have, maybe Gabbert will dress for this one. Could Gabbert's presence be an added incentive for Palmer to produce at a higher level, they way it was for Drew Stanton to produce at a higher level this pre-season?