Behind Enemy Lines: Packers @ Cardinals
Jake Turner – Green Bay Packers
Cardinals have a well-balanced and high-scoring offense. What can the Packers do to keep them from scoring too much points?
The key to the Cardinals offense is summed up in two simple words. Deep ball.
When you see the likes of wideouts John Brown and Michael Floyd on the post route on in the flat near the sidelines. You better have a good man-to-man corner or safety on them because Palmer throws a pitch perfect deep ball that compliments the speed of his target. According to Pro Football Focus, Palmer owns the third highest percentage on the deep ball with 49.4 percent and fifth in accuracy under pressure with 70.8 percent. That’s in the company of Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger and Saints QB Drew Brees.
It will be a huge test for rookie corners Damarious Randall and Quinten Rollins, so they need to get to Palmer. You will see a lot of five-man fronts with Matthews or Peppers on the outside as well as in the middle as the “spy” to get between the center unblocked.
The Packers struggled in November, but have won three games in a row. What has changed?
When you sit back and think about it, it’s amazing how that Rodgers to Rodgers Hail Mary launched a chain reaction for this ball club. It led to head coach Mike McCarthy making a personal decision to take back the playcalling. That was huge, to say the least. It was national breaking news during the pregame shows that week against the Romo-less Dallas Cowboys. It felt like a certain consistency and confidence in a balanced offensive attack just became a reality, at last. Don’t get me wrong, there is still issues on the offense, but they looked a hundred times better than during that three game losing streak.
Also, a lot of credit to defensive coordinator Dom Capers. Yeah, Capers has been stacking up 5-6 men in the box, putting his trust in “ageless” linebacker Julius Peppers and letting rookie Jake Ryan grow in his position. Then knowing that defensive end Mike Daniels was going to be in Green Bay for four more years ($42 million extension) was huge for the future.
Last week, the Packers struggled again in their ground game. Are you optimistic about the chances of them rushing the football against the vaulted Cardinals’ defense?
(laughs) I have no choice in the manner.
You know what? This running game is like the film, “Inception” to where we don’t know if we are in a dream or not. At times, the running game has looked top ten caliber then in Oakland and Detroit. DOA again. I don’t know what the problem is with running back Eddie Lacy, but his inconsistency is getting old rather quickly. His passion has been more “bear than bull” lately. One week, he will pin his ears back and running through the middle. Another, he will sit back behind the line of scrimmage and juke like Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, then lose 1-3 yards.
Running back James Starks has been huge on the option and catches in the flat when needed, but has fitted in the second running back spot. However, it feels like they need to put in rookie running back John Crockett to try and mix in some fresh blood in there. Because if that running game is shut down, the Packers become one-sided and will have a long day in Glendale against the fourth ranked Cardinals rush defense.
Who will be the Packers’ biggest threat for the Cardinals?
Randall Cobb. His passion for this team is unbelievable and wants to do whatever it takes to win. He will play in the slot, line up in the backfield, go off the reverse and even attempt to succeed on the deep ball. Leads the team in receiving yards with 777 yards and six touchdowns. The versatility brings an influence on the team and if he makes plays this Sunday. The Cardinals will have to deal with the “Many Faces of Cobb” if he has a good game. So, that should be on the top of Bruce Arians’ list to beat Green Bay.
The Packers reached the playoffs for the seventh time in a row. Why and how can this experience help the Packers in games like Sunday’s game vs the Cardinals?
All comes down to how head coach Mike McCarthy gameplans this week for this game. If he can fix the mistakes he made in the 2009 Wild Card game, try and establish the running game and continue to play chess with Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians. This has to be like in the mold of 2007 Giants against the Patriots in the season finale. Play with the Cardinals and find opportunities to win the game. Even if they lose, make the Cardinals realize that they will see this team in the playoffs sooner than later.
Robert Kroesbergen – Arizona Cardinals
What will the loss of Tyrann Mathieu do for the Cardinals’ secondary? Who will step up?
With the heartbreaking loss of Tyrann Mathieu the Cardinals will miss a great defensive player heading in the playoffs. He has 89 total tackles, one forced fumble, five interceptions and one sack this year. Maybe more important, the Cardinals lost an important personality on the field. His fire and passion for the game will be missed during defensive plays.
I do not feel somebody in particular has to step up to replace Tyrann Mathieu. The Cardinals proved that they are a strong defense on multiple positions. With the current depth of available players in the secondary the Cardinals have enough options and strenght left to maintain that status. Cornerback Patrick Peterson is the number one DB and he is having a great season. Besides him, Justin Bethel, and Jerraud Powers will probably get the most playing time with Powers taking over Mathieu’s slot cornerback position. In other plays, Tony Jefferson will take over the safety spot of Mathieu which leaves his spot open for safety D.J. Swearinger or Rashad Johnson when he returns from his injury.
The Cardinals are the most complete team in the NFL. How much credit goes to Michael Bidwell? Steve Keim? Bruce Arians?
I would say all three of them should get a lot of credit for turning the Cardinals in such a strong organization and team that they can be a consistent, Super Bowl contender.
Which of them deserves the most credit? My first thoughts go to the owner Michael Bidwell. With his vision, lobbying and hard work he made it possible to build a new stadium in Glendale and hire the right people. We have seen a lot of good things in the past 10 years. The past three years we can describe as the start of the Keim-Arians era, proving us that the earn a lot of credits too. Keim knows how and where to get high quality players. Arians is a great head coach and personality on and off the field and brought in great staff around him.
Bidwell, Keim and Arians are in it to win games. They all understand their responsibilities, stay in their own lane and are very genuine and honest in what they are saying. Thanks to their leadership it’s a very stable organization. Resulting in a great environment for team work, get the best out of every player and achieving good results.
How does this bruising redbird defense take Aaron Rodgers out of his rhythm?
Honestly, I don’t think that will be easy. Aaron Rodgers can do a lot of damage from within the pocket and outside the pocket. Yes, the Cardinals can blitz. Yes, they can sack the quarterback once in a while. And there’s always the threat of an interception when you are playing the Cardinals. But I doubt that will get Aaron Rodgers out of his rhythm. I think the most important thing for Aaron Rodgers to get in a rhythm will be if his WR’s can get open and don’t drop the balls, he is throwing.
Everyone believes that Panthers QB Cam Newton will win the MVP. Give me an argument for Carson Palmer.
I think the difference between those two comes down on handling the pressure on the quarterback in a passing play. Behind the offensive line of the Cardinals Palmer can’t rely on a lot of pass protection. But in these situations Palmer proves he is quick, very decisive and accurate in throwing the football. In Arians’ offense, this means taking a lot of shots over great distance, like 20 yards or more.
Would you believe that if you played the Packers twice (once in the season, possibly again in the playoffs), the Cardinals could win both and why?
We will see. I am sure the Cardinals can win both. Will it happen? Overall, the Cardinals are the better team and proved to be more consistent this year. But that guarantees nothing, certainly not when you’re playing against the well-experienced Packers. So, it won’t be easy to defeat the Packers. Twice.
Jake Turner is a staff writer for the Green Bay Packers on Pro Football Spot. Follow and interact with him on Twitter @JakeTurnerShow. Get updated daily with 24/7 green and gold passion on Twitter @spot_packers
Robert Kroesbergen is team marketing manager for the Arizona Cardinals on Pro Football Spot. Follow and interact with him on Twitter @rkroesbergen. Stay up-to-date with all the latest Cardinals news on Twitter @spot_cardinals or on Facebook on the PFS Arizona Cardinals page.