Adam Chernoff is eyeing up a total play from the Desert on Sunday night!
On the preview podcasts in the offseason, I made two strong cases:
- Arizona will be the quickest team in 2020 snap to snap
- Dwayne Haskins and the WFT offense is not as bad as previously rated
Both play together in this Week 2 total.
I was adamant about how I believed that the Arizona Cardinals would be the first sub-25-second snap to snap team in the NFL since the Eagles in 2015. In the opening game against the 49ers, it held true. The Cardinals ran 41% of their snaps in no-huddle, played 24 seconds snap to snap and the game saw a week high of 139 combined snaps. Compared to Week 5-17 in 2019, this was an increase of 3.5 seconds per snap, 17% in no-huddle usage and more than 10 plays per game higher.
In terms of game planning schematics, the most consistent way to negate a pass rush is to play with offensive tempo.
Last season the 49ers generated pressure on opposing quarterbacks at the third-highest rate in the league. Last week against Arizona, their pressure rate was just 23.5%, the eighth-lowest mark of the week by any team. Washington entered 2020 with one of the highest-rated front sevens in 2020. Against an Eagles offensive line with three missing starters, Washington FT hit Wentz eight times and generated a 40% pressure rate.
The 49ers and WFT share many similar traits in pass rush scheme, which is why I believe the Cardinals will rely on an equal or higher rate of no-huddle and up-tempo play.
More no-huddle and more up-tempo means a higher play count.
Arizona ran three or four-wide receiver sets on 70% of all snaps. The rate is likely to increase on Sunday against Washington to force them into nickel. As great as the Washington pass rush will be, the secondary is the weakness of this team. The best-case scenario for Kendall Fuller is playing against the Cardinals at far less than 100%. The key defensive back for WFT was hampered by a knee injury all camp and missed last week at Philadelphia.
More plays with forced mobility and a weak secondary to me says more opportunity to move the ball.
While the tempo comments might have been obvious during camp from Kliff Kingsbury, one of the quieter nuggets was the reinforcement of up-tempo play from Ron Rivera. The sentiment of playing quickly from his ‘mic’d up’ segment in the first practice continued during camp and was doubled down on by Scott Turner in early September releasing Peterson citing “modern, up-tempo offense” as the reasoning.
With a significant step down in opposing defensive talent this week, the pace could well increase to make Haskins more comfortable.
The expectation on a team with a completely new coaching staff and system entering the season to take on the Eagles defensive front was never high. As bad as 3.4 yards per play looked on paper, few folks had the bar set that much higher.
The reprieve for the WFT offense from last week to this week is enormous.
One thing that is for certain is the time Haskins will have to work in the pocket will be much greater. The Eagles pressured Haskins on 39% of his dropbacks – an area where the young QB struggles most – and Haskins had the quickest snap to throw time of any QB in week one.
Much like Washington FT, the Cardinals biggest weakness is their secondary. The 49ers were without their top two wide receivers for the full game and George Kittle for the second half but still threw for 6.8 yards per pass. This matchup proves positive for the trio of McLaurin-Sims-Inman against the Cardinals secondary, but with Simmons appearing to need time to adjust to NFL coverage there is another positive in TE Logan Thomas who was second in receptions vs PHI.
The glaring hole the Cardinals have in defending running backs and tight ends in the passing game is still very much a real thing.
I think the WFT totals are lower than they should be due to the value put on their front seven. If the pace and mobility of Murray can negate that, the Cardinals have a huge advantage in spread sets against this secondary. I believe Haskins will look much better than he gets credit for in this step down in opposing defensive class. If Washington does their part to keep up the pace, this game can see a play count in the mid to high 130’s which will provide plenty of opportunities to get the game over 46.5.
- Washington Football Team @ Arizona Cardinals Over 46.5 (-110). Risking 1.10x