How fun are Cardinals football games so far this year? The team currently sits in a tie atop the NFC West, this week they have a Thursday night rematch of that game of the year candidate from three weeks ago. The Cardinals will be visiting Seattle this time, with a chance to sweep the Seahawks for the first time since 2009. Let’s take a look at what the team has been doing well, doing poorly, and what they must watch out for.
What they should continue
The Kliff Kingsbury offense of the last couple years has tried to bring a heavy dose of WR screens and short passes that gets their playmakers in space. Two years in a row, Kliff seems to have adapted his scheme and has transitioned his play calling to include more deep passes in the game.
Weeks 1-6 Kyler Murray’s average depth of target (ADOT) was 7.81, in the last three games that has been bumped up to 8.25. The receivers have also seen their ADOT increase:
|Player||Week 1-6||Last 3 games|
Kirk’s numbers don’t line up with the narrative I’m trying to paint here but he also has 22 targets in the last three compared to 24 for the first six. Kirk’s play especially has been a bright spot for the team recently as he leads the team with six touchdowns.
What they need to improve
First half defense
Vance Joseph has gotten his fair share of criticism since taking over as defensive play caller last season, but ever since the team lost Chandler Jones for the year, the defense seems to have a done a great job at halftime adjustments.
|Team||First Half PA||Second Half PA|
|Season Total||13.8 / game||9.6 / game|
One of the biggest issues facing this team is generating pressure, in the last three games Markus Golden (who has only been available the last three games), has been closer than the league average to the QB at time of release. What’s been happening is in the second half the Cardinals have done a much better job at disguising pressures, here are some examples:
This team obviously has the scheme and talent to apply pressure but it just seems like every week they start off slow, eventually they’ll dig themselves a hole that Kyler and Co. won’t be able to get out of.
What they need to watch out for
The return of Chris Carson
The Seahawks have been stumbling since their SNF loss to the Cardinals three weeks ago. Seattle was 5-0 to start the season with a healthy Chris Carson who was averaging 85 yards/game. The Seahawks are 1-3 in their last four games with Russell Wilson becoming more careless with the football. In that span he has thrown nine touchdowns to seven interceptions, along with three lost fumbles.
The lack of rushing game could possibly help explain the drop in Wilson’s efficiency. In that four game span the RB committee has been averaging 74 yards/game. Seattle could use Carson and his 4.9 average yards/carry to help get this team back to the high standard it showed at the beginning of the year. The Cardinals currently have the 11th ranked run defense in the league, a beatable team on the ground if the Seahawks can get one of their core pieces back this week.