Thu, 29 Oct 2020

Three Big Things: #WASvsAZ

Arizona Cardinals
19 Sep 2020, 05:03 GMT+10

A look at the biggest storylines for Sunday's game Darren Urban

The three biggest things to watch for Sunday when the Cardinals play the Washington Football Team at State Farm Stadium:

Taming That WFT Pass Rush

The Cardinals made it through the 49ers' vaunted pass rush in Week 1 - Kyler Murray only was taken down twice (and neither were clean shots) and the Cards won the game. But Washington has been building its defensive line, topped with No. 2 overall pick Chase Young, and made life hell for the Eagles' Carson Wentz last week. Eight sacks later, it'll be at the forefront of Kliff Kingsbury's to-do list going into the game. Fortunately, Murray has shown the ability to escape perilous situations, and the Cards have a quick passing game to combat it. Another potential way to negate the rush - the Cards' own rushing game, which may foretell big things from the Kenyan Drake-Chase Edmonds tandem.

No Comfort For Haskins

Second-year quarterback Dwayne Haskins still only has eight NFL starts, so his inexperience can show. But he did lead WFT to a win last week and didn't turn the ball over. He can be sacked (32 in his 10 NFL appearances, including three last week) and the idea would be not only to bring him down but to turn it over. The Cardinals did manage a blocked punt last week, which was a huge turning point. But they did not force a turnover and that's among the next steps for defensive coordinator Vance Joseph's unit. The Cardinals are much improved on the defensive line but still got bit some on the run - 123 yards by the 49ers, 4.9 yards a carry. Washington was terrible running the ball (80 yards on 36 carries) and the Cards need to hold that down and force Haskins to deal with Chandler Jones and company.

Make Sure It Is Hopkins-Plus

Whether or not the Cardinals are going to be able to go deep more often in the passing game will probably be dictated by Washington's choices on defense. But while DeAndre Hopkins will be the unquestioned No. 1 receiver, it'll be interesting to see if the Cardinals can find ways to pressure the WFT secondary beyond Nuk. Hopkins was thrown at 16 times out of 37 targets, a whopping 43 percent. No other player was targeted more than five times. Certainly, Hopkins is a game-changer. Maybe that focus can free others up - especially if the passing game can find a groove earlier than it did in Week One.

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