The Cardinals aren’t the only team that had a makeover the last six months. Washington has a new quarterback in Alex Smith. You’d think to see something similar to what we’ve seen in Kansas City the last handful of years. A rhythm passing game, some designs where the quarterback is on the move, and a bunch of screens.
After losing their second round pick to the season for injury, the new running back in Washington is a guy named Adrian Peterson. Nobody is sure how much he’ll have in the tank for the entire season. One thing you can count on is how hard he’ll run week one against the team he played for last year.
After checking out some of what Washington wants to do in the preseason and last year, here’s three plays the Cardinals defense will have to stop.
Washington may not be loaded on the perimeter with skill, but they have the best left tackle in the game, in my opinion. What Washington will do is run behind Trent Williams early and often. Why wouldn’t you? Washington is going to run right behind Williams or run that stretch zone play where evvvvvvery offensive lineman runs a direction and the running back is looking for a cutback. That’s a staple, and one of the main runs the Cardinals will need to stop.
What that means is Josh Bynes, Haason Reddick and Deone Bucannon will have to do a good job of playing under control. As you can see from above, the middle linebacker, 54, tries to slow play it and the center is able to block him. If Bucannon or Reddick can do what 51 does, that works.
What cannot happen is plays like this.
Check Bynes out in the middle. He needs to be decisive. Peek-a-boo games with the offensive lineman are a no-no. That’s a free five yards for the offense. The Cardinals did have the best run defense in the NFL last year. If they can make Alex Smith one-dimensional, their chances of winning go up dramatically. I’d say for now it’s about 50/50.
If it’s a third an seven or closer, my money is on the Redskins running a slant. They’ll dress it up. They might empty the backfield.
They might bunch three receivers to one side and throw it to the receiver that is isolated.
There are several different ways Washington will make it appear that something else is coming. Even on play-action. That was a Smith staple the last couple years. Just know that in obvious passing formations like this, bet on something quick, like a slant.
This favors Arizona. If it’s a formation like above, that’ll be to Peterson, more than likely. Please. By all means, target Peterson. Last year when teams targeted Peterson, they had a 32% completion percentage. That’s good for third in the league. So yeah, throw these to Peterson. Good luck.
Jamar Taylor is an upgrade to insert corner that played across from Peterson last year.
Budda Baker year two in coverage. You saw those skills against Dallas. If Ben Benwikere is your worst true cover guy, that’s not bad at all. Paul Richardson, Josh Doctson, and Jamison Crowder don’t exactly strike fear in the hearts of secondaries.
Reed the defense
I don’t care how many surgeries he has. As long as he is on the field, Jordan Reed will be a weapon. He’s proven that. Getting Washington week 1 may be the one downfall for the Cardinals. It means a healthy Reed. Best believe Smith will be looking for him early and often. He’s that good. I’ll be interested to see who is tasked with guarding Reed or how they go about it. In the past when he’s played, as Reed goes, so does the offense.
Reed is the type that is quick enough to beat safeties off the line. Too fast for linebackers. Too big for corners. There’s not really a great prototype against him, save the Patrick Peterson every team has in their back-pocket. Both of Reed’s touchdowns against the Eagles last year? Came when he was split out wide and ran a slant. I would imagine we see a lot of two tight end sets with Reed and Vernon Davis. Which puts more pressure on the linebackers to cover than anything. They are most dangerous when they are lined up on the same side and can do a combination of things. The most deadly? You guessed it.
Last year in games that Reed had more than one catch, the Redskins scored more than 20 points.
Limit Peterson to less than 70 yards. No explosive plays from Reed or the passing game. Get a turnover. Win.