In week five the Arizona Cardinals (0-4) will head to Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California to take on the division rival San Francisco 49ers (1-3). Let’s cut to the chase. The Cardinals need a win. The 49ers head in to Sunday’s match-up like a guy that just faced Mike Tyson in his prime – they’re beat up. After a season-ending injury to Jimmy Garoppolo, the Niners have been forced to start backup quarterback C.J. Beathard and their rookie wide receiver, Dante Pettis, has already been ruled out for Sunday’s contest. Running back Matt Breida, receiver Marquise Goodwin, tackle Mike McGlinchey, center Weston Richburg, tackle Joe Staley, cornerback Richard Sherman, and defensive back Jimmie Ward are all questionable. If the Cardinals can’t get a win against a banged up, Garoppolo-less 49ers team, when can they?
It will be Josh Rosen’s first road start for the Cardinals. Even though he couldn’t come away with a win in his first start at home last week, the rookie impressed. Rosen looked like everything the Cardinal’s hoped for when they traded up and selected him 10th overall in the 2018 NFL draft, but he’ll need more than his own skillset to be successful long-term. Look no further than Matt Leinart as an example. In 2006, the Cardinals selected him 10th overall too, and in his first start against the Chiefs he played well enough to make you think he’d just now be wrapping up an illustrious career. You can blame how it ended on then Head Coach, Ken Whisenhunt, Hall of Famer quarterback Kurt Warner, or even on Leinart himself, but it takes a community of people in order for a quarterback to have a successful career. To get what is hoped to be the first of many wins in his career this week, things will need to change within Rosen’s community:
- Catch the football – For as good as Rosen looked, he’d have looked even better without the handful of dropped passes by his receivers. Rosen finished the game against the Seahawks going 15/27 for 180 yards and a touchdown. According to Pro Football Focus, Rosen’s completion percentage would have gone up to 72 percent had his receivers simply caught the ball. Those drops would have added 100+ yards to his passing totals and put more points on the board.
- Let it fly – Last week we learned that Josh Rosen is more than capable of making all of the throws. If you missed it, just take a look at this Rosen to Ricky Seal-Jones pass in the fourth quarter of last week’s game.
Ladies and gentlemen that pass was against one of the best linebackers in the NFL, and it was nearly perfect coverage. The Cardinals are ranked 31st in rush yards, so it’s time for something new – or even nostalgic. Throw the ball. Part of the Cardinals rushing woes were due to opponents not having to fear the pass. If you allow Rosen to change that, it will in turn allow David Johnson more space to run wild.
- Blitz. Blitz. Blitz. – At least for this week. The Cardinals are facing a backup quarterback with a wounded receiving corps and offensive line. Make Beathard try and beat you through the air. The Cardinals faced Beathard last season in San Francisco and were able to come away with a 20-10 victory. In that game he threw for 294 yards, an interception, and also rushed for a touchdown. Look for Chandler Jones to have a big day.
Arizona has won six straight again the 49ers, but it’s no surprise that Arizona heads in to Sunday as three point underdogs as they are the only team in the NFL without a win. Maybe a win on the road can at least set them up to be the favorite when San Francisco comes to Glendale, Arizona later this month. Kickoff is scheduled for 1:25pm Pacific Time.
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