The Chicago Bears need to stack the box against Sam Bradford and dare him to beat them down the field
We all know that the Arizona Cardinals offense has struggled over the first two weeks. However, what is so stunning is that when you dig into how they got into this hole, it is somehow worse than revealed on the surface.
The team is not using David Johnson in the right way. This is creating a totem pole effect where every player is suffering because of their lack of ability to open things up with Johnson.
They are playing the game within a very tight space. This is why the Chicago Bears need to play into their game, pack everything in tight end dare Sam Bradford to beat them.
Sam Bradford is known as the check-down artist. The last full season he played, Bradford broke the completion percentage record, and it was looked at as more of a joke than it was a true honor.
So far this season, he has played right into his persona. Bradford has the lowest average of completed air yards and has the lowest total of intended air yards in the NFL. On average, his passes go just 5.4 yards down the field, and his completions go 3.2 yards down the field. To put this into perspective, Mitchell Trubisky averages 6.2 intended air yards per throw and 3.5 per completion.
Bradford also has the fifth worst rate of throwing behind the first down line. On average, his passes go 3.2 yards behind the first down line. Trubisky’s average passes only go 2.4 yards behind the sticks.
This all coincides with the idea that his average time to throw is the sixth highest rate in the NFL. While this can be on Bradford, it is also a testament to his offensive line, which we highlighted may not be in a convenient time.
So, everything the Cardinals have done in the first two weeks is telling you that they are going to run up the middle, and they are going to throw short of the sticks. Why should we think that anything will change?
The Chicago Bears should dare Sam Bradford to make any plays down the football field. So far this year he is 3-13 throwing 10 yards down the field or further. That includes two interceptions.
He is hardly doing it, and when he does, it is turning into a bad play. This makes sense considering the personnel of the team. As mentioned, Johnson should be the horse of the team but is being misused and limited in terms of versatility.
Their top wide receiver by a long shot is Larry Fitzgerald. While Fitzgerald is an excellent wide receiver, he changed his game in 2015 and had moved into being almost primarily a slot receiver. He switched because he is so strong and shift on the inside, but does not have the speed to take the top off anymore consistently.
The route charts of Larry Fitzgerald in Week One should show you what you can expect his role to look like against the Chicago Bears.
Sure, here and there he split the seams, but that is not his game anymore.
Ricky Seals-Jones moved from wide receiver to tight end because he was not fast enough. Rookie Christian Kirk was involved more in the offense, but fell in right in line with the rest by posting four receptions for a whopping 27 yards.
With this in mind, Chad Williams and J.J. Nelson are the players that Sam Bradford has to hang in the pocket and take shots deep down the field to. Chad Williams and J.J. Nelson.
Eddie Jackson and Adrian Amos should not line up any deeper than 10 yards off of the football. The Chicago Bears should look to swarm and suffocate this offense, and blow them out with t heir defensive prowess.