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Cardinals’ Pace and Wheeling Chase

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NFL: Los Angeles Rams at Arizona Cardinals Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

One of the most exciting things to watch about the Cardinals’ practices is the up-tempo pace generated by the K-Raid offense.

Not only are the plays coming out quickly and aggressively, the players are running them as fast as game speed.

So often when you watch NFL team practice, they are running the plays at 34 speed.

Of course, WR Larry Fitzgerald has always practiced at top speed and at full throttle.

Now the whole offense is doing it.

Of the numerous times Kyler Murray has connected with Larry Fitzgerald, there have been times when Larry looks as fast as he was 5-6 years ago.

Yesterday, Fitz caught a crossing pattern in the opposite seam and exploded upfield for a TD, kicking his heels up like a colt at a rodeo.

Cardinals’ WR coach David Raih with legendary WR coach Jerry Sullivan have the Cardinals receivers exploding out of their breaks in ways that we have not seen since 2008, when Kurt Warner threw to 3 1,000 receivers in Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin and Steve Breaston.

And not only have Raih and Sullivan been fine tuning the WRs, they have been getting the RBs in the act as well. Every skill player on this roster is being training to gain leverage and separation and to make good, clean catches and crisp RACs.

One such player who is turning heads is 2nd year RB Chase Edmonds. Edmonds and Kyler Murray have been yucking it up during fruit cart breaks and have been developing a strong rapport. Here Chase is telling Kyler he makes 99 out of 100 catches on passes and that the one drop he had that day was ‘the one” in 100 and Kyler ribs him and says what about the drop yesterday?

What is very exciting about Chase Edmonds this year is that he, like the precise timing play, where the QB needs to hit the RB in stride up the sideline before the safety can get there. And if the QB throws it at the precise time there is a good chance that the RB can go the distance, as Ellington did versus the Seahawks in Seattle for a game sealer on the famous Drew Stanton wave—-wave—-wave run up the sideline.

It appeared that Chase Edmonds didn’t make full use of his wheels last season. Of course, just about everything in that archaic and sluggish offense was ran tentatively. But, man, if Edmonds can run and catch like this, imagine what kind of pressure this puts on the opposing defense...because there are few LBers or #5 DBs in the NFL who could cover the fleet-footed Edmonds on this kind of wheel route.

The wheel route is a popular play in the NFL. Two of the key plays in last year’s Super Bowl were the 4th quarter wheel routes that Rob Gronkowski caught from Tom Brady when they used a spread offense and either isolated Gronk to one side or had him run the wheel route from the slot.

It’s a tough play for a defense to defend, because if the receiver get a step on his man (on a play that is designed to give the receiver good leverage) and the QB throws the pass early enough, it’s virtually impossible for the safety to get there fast enough.

You might recall that this was the infamous “non-call” play that the Saints got jobbed on, as the Saints lined up WR Tommylee Lewis in the backfield to the right of Drew Brees, and the Rams’ nickel CB Nickel Robey-Coleman got beat on the play and then in trying to recover, he slammed helmet to helmut into Saints’ RB/WR Tommylee Lewis well before the ball arrived. Notice there wasn’t any safety help on the play.

Interesting, but even though the Saints obviously (to everyone but a team of refs) should have been awarded the penalty and with it a chance to run out the clock and win the game—-Drew Brees knows that if he had thrown the ball a tad sooner, it could have been a game sealing TD because with Robey-Coleman taking a straight-line pursuit angle and with no safety help behind, all Lewis would have to do is catch the ball and scoot into the end zone.

In looking at this play from the NFC Championship game, you can see why the wheel route from the backfield is so difficult to defend, because unless the defender lines up to the outside, the RB will be instantly open to the outside on that angle.

If David Johnson and Chase Edmonds can catch 99 out if 100 of these—-look out, NFL!!!