Behind Enemy Lines: Texans at AZ, Part II

Kurt Warner (Getty)

The Cardinals play host to the Texans on Sunday. The 2-2 Texans look to add to their win column, while the Cardinals will put it all on the line to avoid a 1-3 start. BattleRedNation.com's Editor-in-Chief throws five questions Amberly Dressler's way. What's so different about this year's struggling Cardinals squad? Will their ground game ever get up and running? These answers and more inside.

Charlie Bernstein: Arizona looked flawless on offense against Jacksonville, but not so much against both San Francisco and Indianapolis. What does a struggling Texans defense have to do to keep the Cards offense out of rythm?

Amberly Dressler: The answer to this question week after week is to pressure Kurt Warner. In order to get the Cardinals offense out of sync, the Texans will need to go after Warner early and often.

There are a couple weak spots in the Cardinals offensive line, which has made this game plan plausible especially for the likes of the Indianaplois Colts and the San Francisco 49ers. The two teams each handed the Cardinals a loss and combined for seven sacks on Warner.

CB: Aside from last week, the Texans have had major issues stopping the run. The Cards seem to be primarily a passing team, as anyone would be with the best wideout in the game along with a Hall of Fame quarterback. Do you believe Arizona will lean more heavily on the run with Tim Hightower and Beanie Wells, or will they not divert from the norm.

AD: The Texans don't need to be too worried about the Cardinals running game. The Cardinals brought in first-round pick Beanie Wells this offseason to improve an ailing ground game. Although Wells is expected to see more carries in the upcoming weeks, the Cardinals don't fully trust him with the football in his hands. He fumbled twice in one game.

Tim Hightower continues to see the most carries. But he's been more useful in receiving situations than in rushing. He leads the team with 20 receptions, which is good for 172 yards. His total yard count trails Larry Fitzgerald (181) and Steve Breaston (177).

Expect the Cardinals to pass more than they run, especially if they get behind on the scoreboard.


Beanie Wells
(Getty)

CB: What is the biggest difference between the team that made that fantastic run to the Super Bowl a year ago, and the team which has started 1-2?

AD: Last season the Cardinals played off the "no respect" card quite a bit. It was the team against the media, the league, etc. The Cardinals found motivation in the idea that they were the only ones who believed in them.

This year, the pressure is on and they haven't responded well.

On the field, coach Ken Whisenhunt is feeling the pressure. The departure of offensive coordinator Todd Haley has made a big impact on the Cardinals game. Whisenhunt has resumed play calling duties. While Whisenhunt is fully capable of calling plays, he has his hands full.

CB: How will a pretty dynamic Texans passing game be able to attack the talented Arizona secondary? Basically, who is the weak link and which player will have the unenviable task of covering Andre Johnson?

AD: Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie has been the weakest link in the Cardinals secondary this season. He's been burned on big plays and was accused of "guessing" on coverage.

Rodgers-Cromartie's sophomore slump is in full-swing. There isn't a receiver in the league who can win in a leg race with Rodgers-Cromartie, but he's missing coverage left and right. He is expected to cover Johnson. Sunday's game will be big for Rodgers-Cromartie. It will either be his time to redeem himself, or time for the Cardinals to take a good hard look at their former first-rounder.

CB: Houston's special teams is one of the few groups playing at a high level right now. How have Arizona's coverage units been, and how fearful will the team be of Texans return man Jacoby Jones?

AD: The Cardinals do not have much to complain about in terms of their coverage units. The Cardinals allowed the Colts Donald Brown to return a kickoff 21 yards and the longest punt return was by T.J. Rushing for 12 yards.

The Jaguars had more success the week before, but the Cardinals have kept returns inside the 30.

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