Five keys defensively for the Packers against the Cardinals

Packers

FILE – In this Sunday, Sept. 12, 2021, file photo, Green Bay Packers defensive coordinator Joe Barry, center, works with outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith (55) and nose tackle Kenny Clark (97) during a break in the first half of an NFL football game against the New Orleans Saints, in Jacksonville, Fla. Barry said at his introductory news conference that the adversity he encountered in two unsuccessful stints filling the same role in Detroit and Washington made him a better coach. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack, File)

GLENDALE, AZ (WFRV) – As the Packers prepare to face off against the Arizona Cardinals, they will have to contend with some big time playmakers down a couple of their own key guys on defense. They’ll be without defensive coordinator Joe Barry, who is out for the game with COVID-19. Here are some keys to the game defensively for the Packers if they want to get a win against undefeated Arizona.

  1. Contain Kyler Murray – This should seem self explanatory but Taylor Heinicke rushed for 95 yards last weekend against the Packers defense. He is not on the same level of athleticism that Kyler Murray is. Kyler Murray when scrambling is 8th in completion percentage, 7th in yards per attempt, tied for 1st in passing touchdowns with five, and 1st in EPA with +12.3 according to NFL Next Gen Stats. Adrian Amos said on Tuesday they would have to flock to him to eliminate the big plays and also try and contain his wide receivers.
  2. Push the pocket – Kyler Murray has a pretty good arm. He can whip the football down the field, as apparent by his 17 touchdowns to five interceptions through seven weeks. Kenny Clark has the fastest start he’s ever had to a season and has been a monster on that defensive line. Dean Lowry has stepped up in a big way as well, recovering a fumble and getting a sack against Washington last week. Look for the Packers to truly make it hard for Murray to stay in the pocket. The more they get after him, the better it will be.
  3. Keep them behind the sticks – While the offense is looking to control the clock, the defense will look to help them by getting off the field in a hurry. Murray may have a great arm, but if you keep them behind the sticks, the Packers will force him into long throws, which could result in a turnover.
  4. Shut down the run game – Chase Edwards and James Connor have had productive seasons so far. Arizona is fifth in the run game in the league, with Edwards averaging 6 yards a carry and also catching 27 passes. Connor has 89 carries for 336 yards and 6 touchdowns. If the Packers can limit that run production and make the Cardinals more one dimensional, it would alleviate some stress on the thin Packers secondary.
  5. Limit explosive plays – Kyler Murray has weapons all across this offense. From Christian Kirk to AJ Green and the addition of Zach Ertz at tight end, the Cardinals are an explosive offensive. The Packers defensive backs are going to have a big day of trying to eliminate the break out plays and must make sure they are all communicating in order for this game to go in the Packers favor. DeAndre Hopkins is also a big time threat but some are reporting the wide receiver is expected to play despite a hamstring injury, some are reporting he’s a game time decision, so we’ll have to wait and see. But containing the explosive plays is a must for the Green and Gold.

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