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The Challenge of the Spread

Detroit Lions v Arizona Cardinals Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

For a team lacking any depth at corner like the Jets, the Arizona Cardinals are a very difficult opponent.

There are few offenses that test corners like Arizona’s. Sharp Football Stats keeps track of personnel groupings used by offenses. Last year the Cardinals had 4 wide receivers and 1 running back on the field for 31% of their snaps. No other team used this personnel grouping more than 8% of the time. Arizona was also one of two teams in the league to have 5 wide receivers on the field for more than 10 snaps.

So far this year the Cardinals have reduced their 4 receiver 1 running back groupings to 16% of snaps, but that is still the second highest in the league behind Buffalo.

Making things more difficult, the Cardinals have spread the ball around to their receivers. DeAndre Hopkins has unsurprisingly led Arizona receivers in targets in all four games. The number two target has rotated, however. Last week it was Christian Kirk. It was (not that) Keesean Johnson two weeks ago. The great Larry Fitzgerald was second in receiver targets in Arizona’s Week 2 win over Washington, and Fitzgerald and Kirk tied for the second most against the 49ers Week 1.

This is not a particularly easy offense to gameplan against on many levels, but that’s especially true for a team short on cornerbacks.