Game Overview ::
By Mike Johnson >>
- Arizona started the season playing very competitive football, but has shown signs of regression in recent weeks to the team we expected coming into the year.
- James Conner was placed on injured reserve this week, taking away a pillar of the Cardinals offense.
- The Rams have started the season very well, and their current 2-3 record is a bit misleading.
- There isn’t a particular “strong point” for either one of these defenses, while both offenses rate very well in most metrics.
- Los Angeles has two very talented wide receivers facing a defense with two of the bottom 10 cornerbacks in the league in PFF coverage grade.
- Arizona’s defense has given up monster games to their opponent’s top skill player in back-to-back weeks.
How ARIZONA Will Try To Win ::
Arizona’s offense has performed well and exceeded expectations to start the 2023 NFL season. Quarterback Josh Dobbs has helped make this a more dynamic unit that most expected coming into the year and the team has relied primarily on him and Conner as the pillars of this offense. Conner sustained a knee injury last week against the Bengals after a hot start to the game, however, and the Cardinals struggled from that point on. The Cardinals scored two touchdowns on their first four possessions with Conner in the game, taking a 14-10 lead about halfway through the second quarter. After Conner’s departure, the Cardinals scored on only one of eight possessions and were outscored, 24-6. While there were certainly other factors that contributed to those splits, there is no doubt that this was not the same team without Conner on the field.
Arizona ranks slightly above the league average in tempo (seconds per snap) and passes at the 17th highest situation-neutral rate in the league. However, the Cardinals turned more pass-heavy after Conner’s departure, and therefore, we can expect a more pass-heavy game plan for Week 6. Keaontay Ingram and Emari Demercado are likely to both be involved as replacements for Conner, but neither is a game changer and Ingram is coming back from an injury of his own. The likely usage of those players would seem to be Ingram in a two-down role and Demercado mixing in as a change-of-pace back with a pass-down role.
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We may also see an increase in usage for Rondale Moore, as he has been used in some creative ways to start the season, and without Conner, the Cardinals will be searching for ways to move the ball. The Cardinals passing game will be relatively aggressive with Marquise Brown as the focal point and Michael Wilson and the tight ends also seeing targets. Ultimately, most of the team’s success will fall on the shoulders of Dobbs. Los Angeles plays primarily zone coverage and does not blitz often, trusting Aaron Donald and company to apply pressure without additional rushers. Dobbs will have to try to pick this secondary apart strategically and take what is given to him underneath. Dallas Goedert and A.J. Brown feasted last week and the Cardinals tight ends and Wilson may have some chances to sit down in zone coverage against this secondary. The Rams’ defensive approach leaves a lot of defenders in coverage, and their below-average pressure rate should give Dobbs time to assess the situation and make plays with his legs when nothing is there downfield. Jalen Hurts had success rushing last week and Dobbs should contribute on the ground as well in this matchup.