clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Week 3: Previewing the Arizona Cardinals defense and the Dallas Cowboys offensive approach

Dallas faces another star-studded secondary this week.

NFL: New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Cowboys face the Arizona Cardinals on Monday Night Football this week. While both teams entered this season with high expectations, the Dallas Cowboys are coming off of an embarrassing loss while the Cardinals narrowly escaped starting the season 0-2. Neither team has separated itself from the rest of their respective divisions. Let’s take a look at how the Dallas Cowboys will face off against the Arizona Cardinals defense.

Lineman

The Cardinals feature a base 3-4 defense but often end up playing with two down lineman, four linebackers and five in the secondary. Frostee Rucker and Corey Peters lead the charge up front. They have performed fairly well this season as Rucker has recorded two tackles for loss.

The Cardinals faced a limited rushing attack during the first two weeks of the season. As a result, they were able to stack the secondary but this will inevitably be different against Dallas. Look for the Cardinals to start Rucker and Peters, but add at least Josh Mauro or Robert Nkemdiche if he can come back from injury to the mix. The Dallas Cowboys are coming off of their worst rushing performance. As a result, look for the Cowboys to try an re-establish their running game against this front..

Linebackers

The Cardinals have a talented group of linebackers lead by former Patriot, Chandler Jones. He is joined by veteran Karlos Dansy, Hasson Reddick and Markus Golden. In just two games, Jones has recorded three sacks, five tackles for loss and has hit the quarterback four times. In some ways, Matthew Stafford and Dak Prescott are similar in that they have the ability to run the ball and keep the defense honest while also being able to pass it effectively down the field.

This group will play a key role rushing Prescott, defending Jason Witten up the seam and covering Cole Beasley in the slot. If Jones can get loose and disrupt plays in the backfield, the Cowboys will face a daunting task.

Secondary

The Cardinals strongest suit across their team is their secondary play. While Matthew Stafford torched them in the second half, they came back to life against a meager Indianapolis Colts offense. Patrick Peterson and Tyron Mathieu lead this group, which is also made up of Justin Bethel, Tyvon Branch, Antoine Bethea. Bethel recorded an 82-yard interception return for a touchdown against Stafford and Mathieu notched an interception against the Colts. This group will be able to neutralize Dez Bryant and Terrance Williams with man-to-man coverage. This will place considerable pressure on Jason Witten, Cole Beasley and Brice Butler.

Key Matchup

The Cowboys are facing another good defense with star power in the secondary. Dallas must re-establish their run game and dominate the line of scrimmage. They do not want another game where everything is reliant on the passing game to make things happen. Dak Prescott functions best when he’s working with a powerful run game. This will be the key for Dallas.