After a powerful debut, Washington’s line of defense faces a troublesome encore. The Cardinals’ offense is usually wholesome, it strikes at warp pace to tire out the protection, and it’s led by one of many NFL’s greatest younger quarterbacks, Kyler Murray. The No. 1 draft choose in 2019 confirmed his dual-threat dynamism final week by throwing for 230 yards, dashing for 91 and totaling two touchdowns in a 24-20 highway upset of the reigning NFC champion San Francisco 49ers.
“He offers me anxiousness,” Washington Coach Ron Rivera mentioned.
Murray is a pointed problem for Washington. He simply sliced up a 49ers line of defense that was seen as a mannequin for a way Washington constructed its group in depth and expertise, and he’s coached by Kliff Kingsbury, one of many recreation’s prime offensive minds. San Francisco’s line obtained to Murray for 2 sacks, however how the Cardinals overcame it would present a peek at their blueprint towards Washington.
First, the Cardinals prioritized quick, fast passes. Murray held the ball for a mean of two.42 seconds per throw, based on NFL Next Gen Stats, the seventh-fastest mark in Week 1. Additionally, 28 of his 40 passing makes an attempt (70 %) have been inside 10 yards of the road of scrimmage. The Cardinals scaled this method — their 78 performs tied for second-most within the league in Week 1 — to put on down the 49ers.
These numbers illustrate the technique; these present the way it labored: Because the defensive linemen appeared extra fatigued, Murray began utilizing his legs extra, and he gained 90 of his 91 dashing yards within the second half. These weren’t on designed runs or bootleg bailouts, both. Murray noticed his receivers blanketed, discovered a gap within the pocket and took off. By the fourth quarter, the 49ers’ line appeared gassed as Murray led two lengthy scoring drives — one 9 performs, the opposite 14 — to drag off the upset.
For Washington, this method challenges its prized depth on the line of defense. Rivera has emphasised he desires to rotate linemen to maintain them contemporary, and it labored towards the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 1. Each key lineman performed between 78 % (Chase Younger) and 22 % (Tim Settle) of the snaps. This week, Rivera confused the significance of maintaining Murray within the pocket, and the go protection should maintain up towards two elite extensive receivers. However the important thing for the road figures to be whether or not it might probably maintain tempo with an offensive model greatest described as a marathon of sprints.
Don’t get too excited concerning the offense simply but. There have been causes to imagine Washington’s unit wasn’t as far alongside as its 27 factors prompt final week — for instance, all 5 scoring drives began in Philadelphia territory — and Rivera additional wet-blanketed it this week.
“We’ve obtained a methods to go,” he mentioned. “You in all probability actually gained’t see it or get a really feel for [the offense] till actually subsequent season.”
The crew’s “greatest concern” is youth at extensive receiver, Rivera added. Washington’s receiving corps — headlined by second-year standout Terry McLaurin and journeyman Dontrelle Inman — stands in stark distinction to the Cardinals’ elite expertise of DeAndre Hopkins and Larry Fitzgerald. Inman is Washington’s solely receiver on the lively roster with greater than two years of expertise.
Nonetheless, this matchup offers Washington an opportunity to study extra about itself. Rivera thought first-year offensive coordinator Scott Turner was “stretching” early final week earlier than he settled in, and this week the main target will intensify on his play-calling and quarterback Dwayne Haskins’s persistence. The offense should discover a rhythm sooner than it did towards the Eagles.
Washington should sluggish two of the NFL’s greatest receivers in latest reminiscence. Fitzgerald is in his 17th season and Hopkins continues to be adjusting to his new crew, however the two wideouts stay harmful — and enormous elements of the Cardinals’ recreation plan. The pair accounted for 21 of Murray’s 40 targets final week — Hopkins had 16 — and each ranked within the prime quarter in receiver separation per route, based on NFL Subsequent Gen Stats.
Your complete unit will take a look at a Washington secondary that intercepted two passes in Week 1. The plus for Washington is it would get again prime cornerback Kendall Fuller, who missed the opener with a calf damage. In that case, it’ll be as much as the beginning rotation of Fuller, Ronald Darby and Jimmy Moreland within the slot to sluggish the Cardinals’ roll.
Harm report: Washington’s linebacker corps could possibly be skinny. Backup center linebacker Cole Holcomb was dominated out Friday due to a knee damage, and outdoors linebacker Thomas Davis Sr. was listed as questionable with a calf damage. Davis was inactive for the opener towards the Eagles. If Davis can’t go once more, Washington would have solely 4 wholesome linebackers and would possibly look to name up Jared Norris or Donald Payne from the apply squad.
Though Fuller practiced in full Friday, he was listed as questionable. His return could be important as defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio devises a plan for overlaying Arizona’s elite receivers. “Primarily based on issues that we wish to do with our coverages, when you could have a man like [Fuller] on the market and you’ve got him shadowing gamers, he’s a particular man,” Rivera mentioned.
The Cardinals might be with out beginning middle Mason Cole (hamstring) and No. 2 tight finish Maxx Williams (ankle). Reserve linebacker Kylie Fitts (wrist) and reserve lineman Josh Jones (ankle) are questionable. Arizona positioned beginning sturdy security Jalen Thompson on injured reserve this week. Defensive coordinator Vance Joseph informed reporters that Thompson’s greatest trait is open-field tackling, so he wanted Thompson’s replacements — Chris Banjo and Deionte Thompson — to duplicate that.