Arizona V. St. Louis: 5 Keys To Victory For The Cards
You remember those days as a kid?
When you would count down the days to Christmas? (Well I did anyway)
I feel like a kid again.
I've been counting down the days to the start of the NFL season.
And it's almost here.
As a Cardinals fan, there has definitely been a mixture of emotions this season.
A lot of excitement, sure. But there are some major question marks this year for Arizona.
The good news is, we play a team that was 1-15 last year.
Still, the Cardinals have to take the game seriously.
There are several keys to the game coming up this Sunday afternoon.
1. Tim Hightower
It's not often that a player takes up an entire key, but in this case I'll make an exception.
For those of you who haven't heard, Beanie Wells injury that he suffered in the last preseason game has caused him to be doubtful for the game against the Rams.
That means the Cards run game begins and ends with Hightower this week.
And with Derek Anderson makes his debut as the Cards starter, a good run game will take a lot of the pressure off him.
Let's not forget though that Hightower has two 100 yard rushing games in his short career.
They're both on the road against the Rams.
2. Don't Focus Too Much On Steven Jackson
You remember the NBA Finals a few years ago with the Pistons and the Lakers?
I only remember it for the strategy employed by the Pistons to beat the better Lakers team.
They let Kobe and Shaq do their thing, and shut everyone else down.
The Cardinals need to do the same thing this Sunday.
And by that, I mean let Steven Jackson do his thing.
One man can't beat you by himself.
Steven Jackson was a one man wrecking crew last season, but had no support.
For the Cardinals to win, they need to keep it that way.
3. Get In Sam Bradford's Head Early
This goes hand in hand with the last one, but it's still very important for Arizona.
It has already been mentioned that Bradford may be the best QB in the division...as a rookie.
And while that may be the case, he is still a rookie making his first start.
Arizona is a big fan of blitzing on defense, and I expect we'll see a lot of it on Sunday.
If Arizona can create an early turnover, or a couple of early sacks, Bradford will be in for a long day.
4. Get The Tight Ends Involved
This is for two main reasons:
For starters, the Cardinals really don't have a fullback, so I imagine they'll play two tight ends often in running situations.
And if the situation calls for a fullback, it will probably fall on the shoulders of Stephen Spach (or I hope Jim Dray) to play the H-Back role.
And probably the most important reason is that Derek Anderson needs a go to tight end.
If you remember back to Anderson's breakout season, he had a solid tight end in Kellen Winslow II.
And it's my belief that if he is to have that type of season again, he needs to have a tight end to throw to, even as just a security blanket.
It could be someone like Ben Patrick, who definitely has the tools to be a solid target.
But, mark my words, don't count out Jim Dray, the rookie from Stanford yet.
5. Don't Listen to The Doubters
There's been a lot of skeptics that have stepped up to criticize the Cardinals recently.
It started this offseason by criticizing the organization for not re-signing Karlos Dansby, Antrel Rolle, Kurt Warner, and Anquan Boldin.
And now new waves are rolling in:
"Why are they thinking starting Derek Anderson?"
"The Cardinals offense is in flux...and it's going to get worse", etc.
But as funny as it is to think about it, Whisenhunt has been here before. Back when he took the reins in 2007.
And the Cardinals orginization as a whole has embraced the underdog/underappreciated role.
And for them to win Sunday, they need to ignore the doubters, and play how they know they can.