BUCCANEERS AT CARDINALS SCOUTING REPORT
Cardinals insider Kent Somers breaks down Sunday's matchup with the Buccaneers.
Cardinals on offense
Adrian Peterson makes his debut with the Cardinals - 10 years after the Cardinals should have drafted him. Will he fare better than Kerwynn Williams and Chris Johnson did in trying to replace the injured David Johnson? Peterson is 32, and the Saints clearly thought Peterson had lost a step or two because he was their third running back. The Cardinals' offensive line has been terrible this season, and the tight ends also have not blocked well. Peterson could help a bit, even at an advanced age. At 220 pounds, he’s bigger than Williams and Chris Johnson. He also has a more powerful running style, which is what the Cardinals need now. There is no time or space for dancing. If Peterson has a bunch of 2-yard runs, well, that’s better than gaining none or losing yardage. Of 89 carries by running backs this season, 19 failed to gain a yard. That’s 21 percent. It won’t be easy getting the running back on track against the Buccaneers. They rank eighth against the run, and the Cardinals' interior line doesn’t match up well defensive against defensive tackles Gerald McCoy and Chris Baker. The Bucs also might get linebackers Lavonte David and Kwon Alexander back from injuries.
Cardinals on defense
Last week was the first time this season the Cardinals looked like a defense that had lost five starters in free agency. The Eagles converted third downs at will. They ran the ball efficiently and threw over the heads of the secondary often. The result was a 34-7 loss that was every bit as embarrassing as the score indicated. The Cardinals have given up 10 passing touchdowns after allowing just 16 a year ago. A year ago, the Cardinals beat the Bucs 40-7, scoring 24 points in the second quarter. Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston had four passes intercepted and lost a fumble. The Cardinals have forced only four turnovers this season and rarely helped the offense with field position. Cornerback Patrick Peterson likely will defend receiver Mike Evans for most of the game, which leaves cornerback Justin Bethel and others to defend DeSean Jackson. Winston has played decent this year, but he hasn’t yet grown out of making youthful mistakes. The Cardinals have done a decent job against the run, but they will miss defensive tackle Corey Peters if he can’t play because of a sprained knee suffered in Philadelphia. Running back Doug Martin gained 74 yards on 13 carries in a loss to the Patriots, his first game back from suspension.
The Cardinals and Bucs both have big issues on special teams. For the Bucs, it’s at kicker. Nick Folk missed five of 11 field-goal attempts and was shown the door. They brought in Patrick Murray, who told reporters this week that he has worked with a medium to deal with the mental demands of the job. If it helps him, the Cardinals might want to add a medium to their staff. Phil Dawson has missed four field-goal tries, although one was blocked due to a slow snap. Justin Drescher is the new long snapper, replacing Aaron Brewer, who suffered a broken wrist while trying to make a tackle last week. The Cardinals are having a difficult time covering punts. Opponents are averaging nearly 15 yards a return. In contrast, the Cardinals are getting little production out of their return teams.
The Cardinals should be motivated by their embarrassing showing last week in Philadelphia. They are 0-3 against NFC opponents outside their division and can’t afford another loss Sunday. I’m guessing that playing at home gives the Cardinals the edge. Prediction: Cardinals 23, Buccaneers 20.
Cardinals special teams coordinator, Amos Jones, coaches during practice at the team’s training facility on Thursday.