The Redskins opponent this week is an a former NFC East foe from the Southwest. Let’s see what Revenge of the Birds has to say about the game.
Carson Palmer is 36 years old and his play seems to be in decline. Drew Stanton's 32 and not an ideal starter and Zac Dysert was a seventh-round guy who's bounced around a bit and never really done anything in the league. How do you feel about the Cardinals' QB situation right now and what are your hopes and expectations for the future there?
Palmer was the engine to the Arizona Cardinals offense, he was overhauled and they replaced him, rightfully so, with David Johnson. Except the Arizona Cardinals still find a way week in and week out to live and die by the passing game. It is a weird, Bruce Arians issue, he just trust in his game plan and his quarterback, Carson Palmer, so much.
With Palmer, he's just hitting that spot in his career where he is not really a guy who can win you a game, he can win games as your quarterback, but to expect him to go out and put up the same performances as last year is unfair. I think Palmer is the guy, barring a sudden retirement and desire to write a nearly $12million check to the Arizona Cardinals to pay back bonuses already given, but the future beyond Palmer is a question mark. This isn't the same thing as, "If Kirk Cousins goes down we're screwed" this is potentially Denver minus Peyton Manning, with not as good of a defense and no succession plan in place they're screwed. They need to find a way to strengthen the quarterback position for 2018 (draft), cause I am not sure, outside of just outbidding the Skins for Cousins, there would be an upgrade available on the market any time soon.
Tell us about D.J. Humphries. What kind of OT is he and how does AZ utilize him? What are his strengths and weaknesses? Humphries was a guy a lot of Redskins fans had eyes on before he was drafted and after a disappointing rookie year he seems to really be coming into his own.
Humphries rookie year wasn't necessarily disappointing, outside of the fact he didn't play, but he had a solid if unspectacular Bobby Massie in the last year of his contract in front of him. Through the first 10 games his strength was his ability in the run game, he was honestly a complete liability at right tackle in pass protection.
However, for at least one game at left tackle, he looked extremely promising. The caveat: He played an Atlanta Falcons team that rushes Vic Beasley from the offensive right side and Dwight Freeney wasn't out their every single play, but per Pro Football Focus, he gave up three pressures on 51 pass drop backs. Bruce Arians called his play "excellent".
It was an exciting start to what is hopefully a similar situation to what the Skins have enjoyed with Trent Williams. He may never reach Williams pinnacle, best LT in the NFL, but even if he is a top seven type for four years to earn a second contract, that is something Arizona has not had in their nearly 30 years in the desert.
Talk a little bit about the Cardinals' OL as a whole. They've been banged up and are missing a couple starters. How have the replacements fared? What's the future look like there?
It is... A work in progress. Jared Veldheer, their very good left tackle, is lost for the year with a triceps tear, and we talked about Humphries replacing him. Mike Iupati is playing on one leg, honestly he's been bad, but he is trying. A.Q. Shipley is just there for another season until they deem Evan Boehm ready. Then you have John Wetzel and Urlick John, two young guys with little experience. It is going to be a long game if they decide to test Preston Smith, Ryan Kerrigan and Chris Baker continuously with deep pass drops.
How has the defense performed this year? What are their strengths and weaknesses?
On paper? Great. In reality, good to bad, just depending on the time of the game. They are a team that feeds off playing from ahead, so when they get down, they sometimes just struggle to get their mojo working and play good football. Patrick Peterson is maybe the best corner in football, he'll be in charge of finding a way to stop whoever between DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon are doing more damage that game. The issue is, Tyrann Mathieu is not himself after another knee surgery last off season and a lingering shoulder issue this year. They aren't excuses, they're just the reality of this season for him.
They stop the run well, they do it in 80% of the games, but if they are not playing from ahead, if they are not playing with swagger, they can be taken advantage of.
The biggest thing to watch is Chandler Jones and Markus Golden, who are a really good pass rushing duo, but have been stonewalled by not great pass blockers. If they can't get going, and they give Kirk Cousins all day, it is going to be another long Sunday for the Cardinals.
If you were the Redskins HC and were working on putting together a game-plan this week to go against the Cardinals, how would you play AZ's offense and defense?
Invite the Cardinals to a good old fashioned air show shootout. If you tempt Bruce Arians by getting a lead (and I am talking like a 17-7 lead at halftime), he'll find a way to make this a beautiful aerial assault in the desert between the two teams. If you do that, you take away the Cardinals two biggest strengths, running the football and stopping the run. When you make it where the opposition can run or pass the ball, you are inviting a long day of football for the Arizona Cardinals defense. If the Cardinals are able to control the game on the ground, take measured shots down the field and force the Skins to be one dimensional in the passing game, meaning they know they have to throw the ball, that is when things will get interesting for both teams.
Thanks to Seth Cox for the insider knowledge.