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Talking Cardinals 4/28/2020

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NFL: 2017 NFL Draft Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
  • Why is there such an urgency from some Cardinals’ fans to trade or release OLB Haason Reddick? (1) The Cardinals need depth at the OLB position; (2) For the first time in 4 years, Reddick is able to train in the off-season to play the edge, where he excelled at Temple. (3) His base salary this season is $2.3M, which could be flat-out bargain if he provides quality production, particularly as a situational pass rusher from the edge or on inside twists (which he is very talented at).
  • In my opinion, not only will Hasson Reddick play with a huge chip on his shoulder this season, he could very well be one of the sack leaders on the defense. His play on the edge in the win at Seattle and in maintaining contain on Russell Wilson was outstanding—-this is where his pure athleticism wins.
  • Yes, Haason Reddick was not an instinctive WILB in the Cardinals’ 34 defense. But, part of the reason for that can be attributed to the design of the defense. First of all, was Reddick really a weak side inside linebacker?
  • Let’s for a minute discuss what weak side means. It’s typically one of two things—-(1) the side away from the strength of the formation (where typically the TE lines up as the extra in-line blocker) or—-(2) to the short side of the field (which is not as much of an issue in the NFL the way it is in college, because the hash marks are much closer together).
  • How often did you see Jordan Hicks and Haason Reddick flipping from one side of the formation or field to the other? Rarely ever, right? Why was that? Well, the way teams use shifts and motion with TEs and WRs these days in order to give one pre-snap look and then shift the formation into another, many DCs prefer to keep their LBers in place and have them adjust to the motions.
  • Thus, you probably saw this as often as I did—-where Reddick had the TE lined up to his side, with the strong safety lined up on the opposite side on the slot (2 WR side), thus leaving the TE uncovered. Right away, because the ILB is not lined up directly over the TE, he is at an immediate disadvantage in pass coverage.
  • First of all, the ILB has to key on the run first—-so he is taught to key on his play side guard—-and if the guard blocks down, then it’s the ILB’s job to fill the hole asap—-if the guard pulls he goes into lateral chase, string and tackle mode. If the guard steps back into a fan blocking stance, then the ILB can read the play as a likely pass and then quickly move to cover the TE if they are in man—-or—-quickly slide diagonally backward into the hook zone. Typically, NFL 34 defenses will zone that TE side of the field because the ILB is at such a disadvantage.
  • Thus, so often Haason Reddick was a tad late getting into his coverage and it made him look bad—-but—-I have to tell you—-there are few players on the planet who can play the run first and still get to where he needs to be in coverage as soon as he sees the play is a pass.
  • This is why the Cardinals need to play man to man coverage more regularly this season. In man to man the SS takes the TE. The ILB takes the RB, where he has a much better chance and the other ILB can help over the middle, rush up the middle or spy on the QB.
  • It also should be noted that when the defense does not put a defender directly over the TE, it puts added pressure on the FS to tilt to the TE side in order to defend the seam—-which is counter-intuitive when the 2 receiver side is to the other side where deep help is typically required.
  • Last year, the Cardinals’ opponents exploited the TE side of the formation in the passing game when the TE was uncovered at the line. The one adjustment a DC can make is to have the OLB on the outside shoulder of the TE jam the TE off the snap—-but, of course—-that takes away the OLBs first step in the pass rush. Thus, these scenarios to the TE side create a good deal of cat and mousing—-which unfortunately last year turned the opposing offenses into the cats and the Cardinals’ defense into the mice.
  • Signing Veteran Free Agents. As the Cardinals have been learning for the past few years, veteran free agent signees can create a problem for the coaches because, out of respect to the veterans, the coaches feel obliged to play them, but in doing so, it takes valuable snaps away from the team’s younger players. Veteran players typically don’t take a shining to being benched for a younger player. For most of them, signing them to be backups is insulting and a situation to avoid.
  • Thus, the only way in which signing a veteran free agent genuinely works, is if it is at a position of great need and where the free agent is clearly more talented than the younger players at the position.
  • The gist is this: if the Cardinals’ coaching staff is fully committed to developing their draft picks and younger talent, then the days of turning to over the hill veteran free agents should be over. The time to add veteran free agents is when it is clear that there is great need at a position, where clearly the veteran would be an upgrade over the current personnel. As it was in 2015 when there was a big hole at RDE at the time when Steve Keim signed Dwight Freeney.
  • One has to wonder at this point what the Cardinals are going to do about Brett Hundley’s domestic violence lawsuit. As we know, Michael Bidwill has zero tolerance for players accused of such allegations. If this time, they are going to wait to see what unfolds for Hundley, it would still be wise to sign another QB, like Kyle Sloter (who already knows the offense), just to make sure they have their bases covered.
  • As for the rookie class (and any rookie class in general), Buck made many great points in his “Pump The Brakes” thread. This year in particular is going to be especially challenging for rookies to challenge for immediate playing time. As we know, rookies often take a year or two to develop—-let’s try not to have overwhelming expectations. Just as the coaches and players need to be patient, so do we as fans.

A guess as to the 3 deep depth chart right now:

  • QB: Kyler Murray, Brett Hundley, Chris Streveler
  • RB: Kenyan Drake, Chase Edmonds, Eno Benjamin
  • TE-Y: Larry Fitzgerald, Maxx Williams, Dan Arnold
  • WR-X: DeAndre Hopkins, KeeSean Johnson, Hakeem Butler
  • WR-Z: Christian Kirk, Andy Isabella, Trent Sherfield
  • LT: D.J. Humphries, Josh Jones, Joshua Miles
  • LG: Justin Pugh, Max Garcia, Steven Gonzalez
  • C: Mason Cole, Lamont Gaillard, Max Garcia
  • RG: J.R. Sweezy, Sam Jones, Andrew Dickinson
  • RT: Justin Murray, Marcus Gilbert, Brett Toth
  • LOLB: Devon Kennard, Haason Reddick, Vontarrius Dora
  • LDE: Zach Allen; Jonathan Bullard, Trevon Coley
  • NT: Corey Peters, Leki Fotu, Miles Brown
  • RDE: Jordan Phillips, Rashard Lawrence, Michael Dogbe
  • ROLB: Chandler Jones, Kylie Fitts, Reggie Walker
  • LILB: Jordan Hicks, Dennis Gardeck, Keishawn Bierria
  • RILB: De’Vondre Campbell, Evan Weaver, Tanner Vallejo
  • LCB: Patrick Peterson, Byron Murphy, Zane Lewis
  • SS: Isaiah Simmons, Jalen Thompson, Reggie Floyd
  • FS: Budda Baker, Jalen Thompson, Deionte Thompson
  • RCB: Robert Alford, Chris Jones, Jace Whittaker
  • K: Zane Gonzalez
  • P: Andy Lee, Ryan Winslow
  • LS: Aaron Brewer
  • ST: Zeke Turner, Chris Banjo, Charles Washington

Isaiah Simmons choosing the #48:

  • Arizona #48 state in America
  • An homage to Pat Tillman and Larry Wilson: #40 + #8 (plus Isaiah being the #8 pick in 2020 NFL Draft) = #48
  • A “Dub of the A-Dub” (Adrian Wilson): #24 x 2 = #48

What are your thoughts today?