The Chicago Bears will be looking to even their season record at 1-1 when they take on the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday at Soldier Field, but doing so against a tough NFC West opponent will not be an easy task.
To find out just how difficult the task will be, and how the Cardinals will look to thwart the Bears' chances at their first win of the season, we turned to Robby Baker, a reporter for NBC 12 in Phoenix, to discuss the matchup and get his thoughts on the matchup.
You can follow Robby on Twitter @RobbyBaker12.
Grizzly Detail: The Cardinals looked like a completely different team on Sunday with Carson Palmer back at quarterback. What is it about his play that makes the Cardinals' offense so effective?
Robby Baker: He’s just a leader, and he appears to be more dialed in this year than ever. This offense is tailor made for a quarterback like Palmer, and with him healthy the sky is really the limit for the Cardinals offensively. His presence and leadership is really the glue that holds that offensive unit together.
It’s something that cost the Cardinals a playoff run a season ago.
Grizzly Detail: The big story out of Week 1 was Andre Ellington suffering a knee injury. How do the Cardinals replace him?
Robby Baker: Well the good news for Cardinals fans is that Ellington’s PCL sprain is only expected to keep him out a few weeks, and Arians said Monday he won’t rule him out for Sunday’s matchup with Chicago. In his presumed absence, newly acquired Chris Johnson would take over as the starter and rookie David Johnson would be the backup.
Grizzly Detail: Larry Fitzgerald is a guy whose stock has taken a dip in recent years, but he looked like his old self Sunday. How critical is a healthy and productive Fitzgerald to Arizona's chances for success this season?
Robby Baker: It’s crucial that Fitzgerald is healthy and a part of Arizona’s offense. He’s not the burner down the sideline that he once was, and the Cardinals current scheme doesn’t call for that. He says he’s more of a complete player now and that he plays in between the numbers much more.
The Cardinals current scheme allows Palmer to take what’s given to him and Palmer’s a veteran who knows better than to try and force throws just to Fitzgerald.
If the defense is caught napping, like the Saints were a few times, Fitzgerald will do his usual damage.
Grizzly Detail: In your recap of Arizona's win over New Orleans, you mentioned that the defense was too aggressive on blitzes, and it allowed the Saints to get some huge gains on screen passes. Is that something that concerns you as they go against a Bears team that loves to dump the ball off to Martellus Bennett and Matt Forte?
Robby Baker: Yeah, I would say that’s a concern going into this Sunday. Blitzing and pressuring the quarterback is the Cardinals plan every week, but it seemed like it was a little counterproductive against the Saints.
I will say defensive coordinator James Bettcher did make some nice halftime adjustments and the Cardinals, for the most part, negated giving up big chunks of yardage in the second half. At least not as much as in the first.
I wouldn’t be terribly surprised if the Cardinals dialed back the blitzing on Sunday again if the Bears exploit their overaggressive nature.
Considering Jay Cutler's aptitude for turning the ball over, though, may be an extra incentive for Bettcher to bring the heat.
Grizzly Detail: The Bears had a really good day rushing the ball against the Packers on Sunday, but the Cardinals are coming off a game where they allowed 2.7 yards per carry against the Saints. Which player or players are key to stopping the opposing run game?
Robby Baker: Well that all starts up front with big Calais Campbell, who really helps to set the tone defensively for Arizona.
I’d say keep an eye on second-year player Deone Bucannon, who is a safety-linebacker hybrid player. He played safety in college, but with his hitting power and big size, the Cardinals will move him into the box at times as well.
The Cardinals defense is known for swarming to the football, so it’ll take a total team effort to stop Forte this weekend.