Cardinals must overcome injuries, absences in Tampa
Outside linebackers Sam Acho, Lorenzo Alexander and Alex Okafor were lost for the season with injuries suffered last week. Nose tackle Dan Williams will miss a second straight game after the death of his father in an auto accident prior to the team's game in New Orleans. Inside linebacker Daryl Washington will serve the final game of his four-game suspension this week when the Cardinals face the Buccaneers in Tampa, and left guard Jonathan Cooper won't be donning pads until 2014.
We haven't even begun to dissect the Cardinals' offensive and defensive woes, but they had better find a solution for all those problems quickly or they will be staring at a 1-3 hole and facing even longer odds to the playoffs than they already face.
"You've got to be able to adjust in this league," coach Bruce Arians told reporters in Sarasota, Fla., where the Cardinals trained in between the Saints and Bucs games. "It's going to throw you curveballs all the time. You got to be able to hit the curveball."
Playing in the Cards' favor this week is the Buccaneers' decision to switch quarterbacks, benching Josh Freeman for rookie Mike Glennon, who will make his first career start. The Tampa Bay offense is putrid, ranking at the bottom of the NFC and second to last in the NFL.
The Buccaneers' offensive strength (if there is one) is their rushing game, but the Cardinals rank third in the league against the run. The guess here is that, with a rookie QB starting, the Cards will key on the run and force Glennon to beat them.
How well they will be able to do that without Williams remains to be seen, but it was encouraging to see defensive tackle Darnell Dockett show some signs of life last week with three sacks of Saints QB Drew Brees.
One thing the Cards could do is use more 4-3 looks to mask their lack of depth at outside linebacker, a change that defensive coordinator Todd Bowles told azcardinals.com is “not that difficult” from what the Cards have already installed.
“We have 4-3 guys, and we do play 4-3 during the ballgame,” Bowles said. “We don’t stay in just 3-4. It’s a matter of having the right people outside doing the right things at the right times. Some of those (linebackers) are inside guys that can’t play outside.
“(The scheme) will be mixed up a little bit more.”
The results had better be, too.
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