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The Chase Is On

Los Angeles Chargers v Arizona Cardinals Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Back when the Cardinals were hosting draft prospects, it just so happened that UCLA QB Josh Rosen and Fordham RB Chase Edmonds visited the Cardinals facilities at the same time. The two college stars from opposite ends of the country bonded with the coaches and each other. At dinner the GM and coaches dreamed of how good it would be to draft them both.

On the Cardinals’ Flight Plan, we saw that with their compensatory pick coming up at the end of the 3rd round, and with the Cardinals already having traded three draft picks to select Josh Rosen, the first name Steve Wilks proposed was Chase Edmonds.

Selecting Edmonds in the third round would have followed the Cardinals’ recent pattern of taking small school offensive prospects like RB David Johnson and WR Chad Williams.

Auspiciously, the Cardinals decided to hope that Edmonds would last another round, when they went with C Mason Cole at pick #97. The Cardinals got their wish when Edmonds was sitting pretty at #134.

Now, on the eve of the Cardinals’ first regular season game, Mason Cole is the Cardinals’ starting center and Chase Edmonds is about to be unveiled as one of the team’s top playmakers.

During the pre-season, OC Mike McCoy was being coy with his play selections, so as not to tip off his regular season plan.

Already, with McCoy’s decision to bring the fullback back into the Cardinals’ running schemes, the fans will see a number of two back formations this year, the likes of which we haven’t seen in years.

But—-the two RB schemes—-will not be simply relegated to the standard FB-RB tandem.

Here’s the rub—-we are going to be treated to a set of 2 RB plays that feature David Johnson at one RB and Chase Edmonds at the other.

With both Johnson and Edmonds on the field at the same time, McCoy has a myriad of options:

  • Run plays out of a 2 RB set with the RBs split or off-set—-with a variety of rushing and passing options to either side (swings, flats, circles, wheels, drags, screens)—-plus added blocking help for Sam Bradford.
  • Start in a 2 back set, either split or off-set—-and motion one of the RBs into the slot, turning Johnson or Edmonds into a slot receiver.
  • Start in a 1 RB set with the other RB lined up in the slot—-and motion back into a 2 RB set or motion across the formation to determine man or zone defense and check into quick rushing or passing options.
  • With one of the RBs in the slot or motioning into the slot—-there should be intermediate to deep passing options to Johnson and Edmonds up the seams or on in, out, post and corner routes.
  • We will likely see elongated motions that on the snap turn into quick RB hitch or bubble screens, especially versus zones.
  • With one of the two RBs in the slot—-we could see RPOs in the direction of the slot RB.
  • Finally, we may see quick circle motions from the slot—-that turn into fake off-guard dives to the 1 back followed by quick pitches to the circle-motion RB.

The primary objective of these 2 RB sets will be to find a number of ways to loosen up the middle for runs and, most of all, to get Johnson or Edmonds the ball in space.

Also, with David Johnson commanding great deal of attention whenever he is in the slot or motions to the slot, against good pass rushing teams (like the Redskins) we are apt to see a number of draws and screens to Chase Edmonds—-something that fits superbly into the strengths of his game.

If McCoy’s offense is what the imagination suggests it is going to be, it’s quite possible that Johnson, Fitzgerald and Edmonds will be the Cardinals’ three leaders in receptions this season. Plus, the 3rd leader in rushes behind Johnson and Edmonds, could well be Christian Kirk on a variety of reverses.

Again—-getting the ball in the hands of the top playmakers with as much running room as possible will be paramount. Yes, we've been hearing “pound and ground” as the offense’s top priority—-but—-the versatility of the Cardinals’ offensive personnel suggests a variety of play designs to get the playmakers the ball where they have more room to run—-and where—-if they make one defender miss—-they are off to the races.

When asked this week which player asks the most questions, Mike McCoy said “Chase Edmonds.” That’s exactly right—-Chase Edmonds should be very busy come Sundays (and one Thursday night). The Chase is on!