Blitzing the Denver Broncos Would be Fatal for the Arizona Cardinals


Sep 21, 2014; Seattle, WA, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) passes the ball against the Seattle Seahawks during the second half at CenturyLink Field. Seattle defeated Denver 26-20. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Broncos take on a very good defense on Sunday when they welcome the Arizona Cardinals to Sports Authority Field at Mile High. If the Cardinals are going to have a shot at the upset, then that defense is going to have to play their best game of the season.

Unlike the Seattle Seahawks who just play straight up defense and dare you to beat them, the Cardinals rely heavily on the blitz. Coming into Sunday’s game, the Cardinals have blitzed 49% of the time.

To this point that strategy has worked for them but it would be unwise to blitz Peyton Manning at that rate. If they do, the Broncos will win this game by 21 points.

Manning is the best quarterback, maybe ever, at recognizing the blitz and then beating it. No one gets rid of the ball quicker than Manning and he has the playmakers on the outside to beat the blitz.

The Cardinals do have to great cornerbacks in Patrick Peterson and Antonio Cromartie, and that is the reason they can be so aggressive. The problem for the Cardinals on Sunday is the fact that the Broncos have more than just two receivers who can beat you.

Even if you assume that the two corners can take away Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders which is a big assumption, the Broncos have multiple options.

If Peterson and Cromartie are locked up on the two outside receivers and the Cardinals are blitzing, then who is covering Julius Thomas and Wes Welker? If they send a safety on a blitz, then there’s a linebacker covering one of them and that’s a mismatch that Manning will exploit all day.

If the initial blitz is picked up, then Montee Ball is going to be wide open all day and Manning will happily take seven yards a pop. Unlike many other quarterbacks, Manning will stay patient and take those seven yard gains all the way down the field.

Then there’s this; as good as the cornerbacks for the Cardinals are, the Broncos will make plays down field versus the blitz. No one, including the Seahawks, has been able to cover Sanders and he will make big plays if the Cardinals continually try to cover him with one guy.

Thomas has struggled earlier this season but something tells me that Sunday is a breakout game for him. He’s had a week off for his sore leg to feel better and I believe he is anxious to make an impact.

If Thomas is consistently facing single coverage down field, he will make plays.

The problem for the Cardinals is the blitz is who they are on defense and if they try to do something else, then they probably will not be as effective. My belief is they will still blitz some but not nearly at the rate of 49%.

If they do, it’s going to be a very long day for the Cardinals defense.