Strategy And Personnel

The Sports Xchange

December 27, 2018 at 1:43 am.


–QB Josh Rosen has had problems keeping his eyes downfield, which is something he will need to work on during the offseason, according to head coach Steve Wilks. Rosen on Wednesday agreed with Wilks’ assessment.

“Absolutely,” he said. “You have to dance the fine line between feeling a particular rusher who has more of a clean shot at you where you really have to evade him versus something where you’ve got to keep your eyes down and use more of a slight pocket move. That’s something that Aaron Rodgers is specifically exceptional at – his poise in the pocket and his ability to extend plays without moving anywhere, trusting his offensive line and kind of having that sixth sense.

“That’s something that I’m definitely trying to grow throughout my career, and when Coach Wilks says thing like ‘valuable reps,’ that’s what he means. Those are the kind of reps where you just feel the pocket. You’re going to get extremes of either end. You’re going to have guys get at you in one second because you’re hot, or you’re going to have guys come in four or five seconds, and you can’t get antsy at three.”

–DEs Markus Golden (ankle) and Benson Mayowa (neck/back) both missed practice on Wednesday but head coach Steve Wilks said he hopes both players will be available for Sunday’s game at Seattle.

–OL Will House has been re-signed to the practice squad. House originally joined the Cardinals in May as an undrafted rookie free agent out of Southern Nazarene and spent the first six weeks of the season on Arizona’s practice squad. He also spent time on the Colts practice squad this year.

–S Fish Smithson was released from the practice squad.

PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: S Antoine Bethea, 34, leads the Cardinals with 130 tackles. The 13-year pro need 10 tackles on Sunday against the Seahawks to establish a new single-season career high. He had 139 with the Colts in 2011.

GAME PLAN: Josh Rosen has thrown for 240 or more yards just three times this season – has never reached the 300-yard mark – and in his last two games combined, he’s thrown for just 219 yards. It’s doubtful to think the passing game will be much of a factor on Sunday against the Cardinals unless the rookie quarterback can establish some continuity with Larry Fitzgerald and running back David Johnson. That’s been spotty all year, too, leaving the Cardinals to rely as much as they possibly can on a ground game that only grinds out yards occasionally. Once the Cardinals fall behind in games, their running game usually turns completely south and Rosen is left to try to make plays happen out of nowhere, usually while he’s been chased out of the pocket or brought down and sacked. He’s been sacked 39 times, tied for the ninth most in the league.

Defensively, the Cardinals’ inferior rush defense will be tasked with trying to stop the most productive rush offense in the league and after allowing 215 yards to the Falcons and 269 to the Rams the last two weeks, things could get particularly ugly at CenturyLink Field. Arizona plans to simplify its defense so players can get aligned more quickly in an attempt to be ready to handle the Seahawks’ up-tempo style. The Cardinals will need to seal the edge against quarterback Russell Wilson to keep him from beating them on the run and when he rolls out to throw down the field. That’s when he’s at his best and the defensive ends and linebackers have to keep him in the pocket as often as possible.

–Cardinals DE Chandler Jones vs. Seahawks LT Duane Brown. Jones ranks third in the NFL with 12 sacks through Week 13. Since then, however, the 2017 sacks leader has been shut out, failing to record a single sack against the Lions, Falcons or Rams. If the Cardinals hope to beat the Seahawks for a fourth straight time in Seattle, something no NFL road team has ever accomplished at Century Link Field, Jones will have to maneuver his way past Brown and get to Russell Wilson to kill potential scoring drives and force Seattle to punt. Jones has been invisible lately, however.

–Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald vs. Seahawks CB Shaquill Griffin. The Seahawks contained Fitzgerald earlier this season, limiting him to three receptions for 38 yards, and Griffin will have to help lead a similar effort this week. Fitzgerald remains the Cardinals’ only viable threat at wide receiver and his production has been heating up lately even as rookie quarterback Josh Rosen continues to struggle. Griffin figures to be busy on Sunday in what could possibly be Fitzgerald’s last NFL game as the 15-year veteran could be pondering retirement.