The Eagles shut out the Giants two weeks ago in large part because they dominated the Giants offensive line. Another stout performance could be in line on Sunday.
The Arizona Cardinals offensive line was a problem before they hired Bruce Arians as head coach, and it has continued to be a problem. On one hand, it's hard to fault them. The Cardinals drafted G Jonathan Cooper 7th overall in 2013, and in the pre-season he broke his ankle, ending his year. He then suffered a toe injury in this year's pre-season, and while he was out lost his chance at a starting job. In free agency they signed former Raiders LT Jared Veldheer, but he hasn't been a difference maker. Arizona's offensive line still struggles. They are 30th in the league in yards per rushing attempt, the Eagles are 15th. Advanced stats don't tell a better story for the Cardinals run blocking against the Eagles run defense.
|Stat||ARI OFF||PHI DEF|
|Adj. Line Yards||25th||15th|
The Cardinals offensive line has struggled all season in all phases of play, and it's because they're being beaten by out played physically and by consistently making mistakes. They've been getting beaten on runs to the outside.
The guard and tackle will block the defensive tackle and end, leaving the linebackers open on this run to the outside.
They are meant to be blocked by the running back and tight end, who is being asked to run from outside the left tackle to outside the right tackle.
Predictably the tight end can't get there in time, the linebackers cut inside the running back, and the play losses yards. A bad play design. There were others.
The Cardinals pull the guard on a sweep to outside, but the Raiders have two free defenders, so the play can't go anywhere.
They also have assignment issues.
#62, Ted Larson, will double the NT and #68 Lyle Jared Veldheer will block the DE. Nobody will block Brian Orakpo. Oops. Things didn't get better the next week.
The Raiders DT will come to the outside of Larsen, who along with the center will create a clean A gap... for the linebacker to fill. Tight ends Rob Housler and John Carlson will also open a clean D gap... for the safety to fill.
This play also never had a chance.
Even when the Cardinals are getting their blocking assignments right, they're simply getting beat.
Larsen should be stepping up to the second level since he has no one to block, but he doesn't know what to do. Meanwhile Veldheer is struggling with Sio Moore. By the time Stepfan Taylor gets the ball, he's in trouble.
Moore makes the tackle and Larsen helps him out by shoving Charles Woodson on to Taylor.
Even when the linemen do their job, others get beat.
Here's TE Rob Housler simply getting pushed aside by DE CJ Wilson and stopping Ellington dead in his tracks.
The Cardinals protection issues aren't just in the run game. Their pass blocking is weak as well, and has had some issues against plays you see from the Eagles.
The Cardinals just don't block Redskins LB William Compton.
Carson Palmer will wind up throwing an incomplete pass here, but not before his life flashes before his eyes.
Trent Murphy will rush inside from his OLB spot. The Cardinals offensive won't account for him.
With Murphy in his face, Palmer has to get the pass out in a hurry and it falls incomplete, and Palmer takes a hit.
And like their run blocking, even when the Cardinals got their assignments right, they were getting beat, and getting Palmer beat up.
Again, Palmer gets the ball out, but takes another body blow.
It will be tough to rack up sacks against Palmer, he knows to get the ball out and take the incompletion rather than the sack, and he's got a good group of WRs to throw to. But there's reason to believe the Eagles can notch a sack or two. Palmer's 3.4% sack percentage so far this season is the second best of his career, but it's the best since 2008. He hasn't had a season below 4% and with these continuous issues with the line he's going to be sacked more.
But mostly, the Eagles should dominate the run game. Last year they got a close but deserved victory over the Cardinals. Arizona was missing Andre Ellington for that game, and maybe it would have made a difference. This year they will be facing Ellington, but it doesn't matter. The Cardinals run blocking is struggling physically, is struggling with play calls that have no chance of success, and with blocking assignments that have no chance of success. The Eagles run defense is good, and ought to have success against it.