The Cardinals defense has conquered both a rookie quarterback and a definite first-ballot Hall-of-Fame quarterback so far this season in Russell Wilson and Tom Brady.
The man they face this weekend, Eagles quarterback Michael Vick, brings a whole new dimension to the way the quarterback position is played.
Put on top of that the fact that the Eagles offense is averaging 471 yards of offense through their first two games, and it all means that the Cardinals defense will have to bring a full lunch pail to University of Phoenix Stadium on Sunday, because they will be put to a max test.
The Cardinals made a visit to Philadelphia last November, and the defense didn’t have too much “Brotherly Love” for Vick that game.
Vick was just 16-for-34 for 128 yards, zero touchdowns and two interceptions, as Arizona came away with a 21-17 victory.
His 32.5 passer rating was his lowest as a starter for Philadelphia, and it was his lowest rating since Christmas Eve of 2006, when he had a 22.7 as a member of the Falcons. Atlanta opposed the Carolina Panthers that day.
Head coach Ken Whisenhunt says discipline has been one of the main things preached this week in preparation for Vick and all the weapons he has at his disposal.
“We’ve got to play our scheme,” Whisenhunt said. “We’ve got to play the defense the right way, not mistakes. You can’t afford to do that against a team like this.”
“Mike Vick is a very good quarterback in this league,” Whisenhunt said. “I know that our players are excited about the challenge and they’re working hard.”
In his 15 years in the NFL, defensive end Vonnie Holliday has seen many a quarterback come and go, but Vick to him, is a one of a kind athlete.
Holliday knows that Vick will be hard to wrangle on Sunday.
“Even when you do your best job of trying to contain him, and keep him in the pocket and try to take the best angle as the outside rusher, he still can beat you to the outside,” Holliday said. “It’s gonna be a collaborative effort, it’s gonna take everybody getting to the ball, doing your job and staying in your gap.”
Linebacker O’Brien Schofield says the preparation for a player of Vick’s caliber will be similar to how they prepared for Wilson in Week One.
“Our job as pass rushers this week is to keep him in the pocket, keep him contained, make him win the game with his arm,” Schofield said.
Schofield pointed out the fact that Philadelphia likes to give the ball up to the opposition (nine turnovers in two games), so he figures the defense can expose that crack in the Eagles armor even more on Sunday.
“That’s something we’re going to have to exploit,” Schofield said. “Being able to rip the ball outta there, and just being in the right place at the right time.”