Coach Kliff Kingsbury hasn’t tipped his hand yet, but we’re led to believe the same starters on defense from last Friday’s game against the Dallas Cowboys will be present again. Unfortunately, most if not all of the starting defensive line will be out as all are dealing with “minor” injuries.
That means we’ll get to see the new linebacker duo in Isaiah Simmons and Zaven Collins square off against the 2019 Super Bowl champions, on national television. It might not be fair to fully judge both of their performances, but wouldn’t you want to see how they fight through adversity against an elite offense? The two young up-and-coming linebackers are key pieces to explore with curiosity on Friday night.
Simmons and Collins’ Mission
Both Simmons and Collins played extremely well against the Cowboys. Collins had a tackle for a loss in the very first series.
The only caveat was the Cowboys’ playing their backup QB and wide receivers and running backs. Playing against the football version of the “Monstars” from Space Jam will be as good of a test as you can imagine.
Simmons was drafted in the top 10 by the Cardinals for his covering abilities. Having the task to cover one of the best tight ends in the league in Travis Kelce should be a key area to watch.
The athleticism from both players is why general manager Steve Keim drafted both in back-to-back draft class years. Defensive coordinator Vance Joseph can play around both players’ strengths and find veteran linebacker Jordan Hicks playing time.
“You build your team through the draft,” said Joseph. “Drafting Zaven, we thought early he can play at MIKE linebacker. The maturity and football IQ is high. Not saying that Jordan Hicks can’t play, but having Zaven as a rookie and playing for us, that’s a good thing. It’s my job to find out who’s the best 11 to play for us.”
Zaven’s assignment against the Cowboys was also calling the defensive plays during all of his snaps on the field. Doing that in your first game should let every Cardinals fan know how much faith Arizona has in him.
The Cardinals are three-point underdogs at home against the Chiefs, which is generous and probably takes into account that Kyler Murray will start. But imagine if Simmons and Collins were out? Mahomes and company against backup defensive lineman would feast.
Mahomes will face off against his old Texas Tech coach Kingsbury for the first time. The tandem only went 12-13 over Mahomes’ two full seasons as a starter but finished with a top-five scoring offense in both years.
“We text quite often about football, about different teams when we play a common opponent, about different plays that I’ll see or he’ll see that we run,” Kingsbury said this week.
Since coming into the league, Mahomes has won the MVP in 2018, a Super Bowl the next year, losing in the Super Bowl and even being on the Madden cover twice.
Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce make the offense go-round with their different facets to the game.
The constant characteristic of Kansas City’s offense relies on pre-snap motion. Given the abilities of Hill and Mecole Hardman, and their explosive running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire, the offense is hard to predict.
Reid utilizes every players’ strengths to the max. The Cardinals luckily won’t have to face their starters after the first half.
But winning and losing doesn’t count in the preseason. Finding out who can make the correct reads and make the best out of every snap will find playing time in the regular season.