Arizona looks to shore up screen defense against Bears
TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) James Bettcher is off to a good start as the Arizona Cardinals’ new defensive coordinator. Except when it comes to defending those screen passes and other short tosses to the running back, that is.
So the Cardinals know they will see more of those plays when they are in Chicago on Sunday, particularly considering the Bears have Matt Forte, one of the most adept receivers on screen plays in the NFL.
”Anytime you show something on film you are going to get it for at least a month because it’s a copycat league,” Arizona coach Bruce Arians said. ”Until you put the fire out, that’s all you’re going to see. We have to do a better job of securing that area this week and putting out the fire.”
Bettcher called the breakdowns in Arizona’s 31-19 victory over New Orleans ”very correctable plays.”
”Keeping leverage on the ball, understanding where your help is, understanding where your eyes have got to be,” he said, ”those are some of the core things that showed up coming out of that game for us.”
Bettcher said that in practice this week ”guys were very, very aware” of what needed to be corrected.
While the Cardinals effectively shut down the Saints’ running game – 54 yards on 20 carries – running back Mark Ingram caught eight passes for 98 yards, and backup Khiry Robinson caught five for 51 yards. Ingram gained 59 yards on one play.
”Everything that they got, we gave them, as far as miscues and certain things,” inside linebacker Kevin Minter said. ”It’s just some guys playing different positions, starting for the first time, stuff like that. You get aggressive and sometimes it comes back to bite you.”
The Cardinals know Forte is as good as there is in the screen game.
”If we don’t play our game as far as scheme and whatnot, it could be a long game for us,” Minter said. ”We’ve put a lot more energy on that in practice.”
Bettcher called the Bears running back ”dynamic.”
”They feature him in a bunch of different ways,” Bettcher said. ”He’s going to get the ball out of the backfield carrying the ball, they’re going to motion him out, they’re going to split him out, put him in the slot, try to create matchups.”
Bettcher is counting on the secondary to identify what’s coming.
”I’ve said it time and time again, we’re very smart back there,” Bettcher said. ”So formation identification, being aware of where he’s at at all times will be important this week.”
The players seem confident that that weakness will be shored up.
”All those screens versus the Saints were just having guys miss assignments,” cornerback Jerraud Powers said, ”guys not doing their job. So as long as guys do their job, we’ll be fine.”
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and AP NFL Twitter feed: www.twitter.com/AP-NFL