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Cardinals Attack Underneath

The Cardinals are clearly hamstrung on offense, and it’s showing up in the numbers. Coach Bruce Arians loves to throw the ball deep, but with injuries to key linemen D.J. Humphries, Mike Iupati and Alex Boone as well as speedsters John Brown and J.J. Nelson, it’s just not possible. Instead, the Cardinals as presently constructed are much more of an underneath team.

The Cardinals are clearly hamstrung on offense, and it's showing up in the numbers.

Coach Bruce Arians loves to throw the ball deep, but with injuries to key linemen D.J. Humphries, Mike Iupati and Alex Boone as well as speedsters John Brown and J.J. Nelson, it's just not possible.

Instead, the Cardinals as presently constructed are much more of an underneath team.

In the past, Palmer did seven-step drops with regularity, but this season, his dropback depth of 7.1 yards is the second-lowest in the NFL, half a yard shorter than league average, per Pro Football Focus. There's no other option at this point, since he's been pressured an NFL-high 75 times, per PFF, and has been sacked six times in each of the past two games.

Palmer knew he had to get the ball out quick on Sunday against the 49ers, and found his running backs with regularity. Andre Ellington led the team with a whopping 14 targets, catching nine of the passes for 86 yards. Even run-first backs Chris Johnson (three catches, 31 yards) and Kerwynn Williams (one catch for 10 yards) got involved in the passing game.

When Humphries gets back and Nelson and Brown get up to full speed, maybe the deep passing game can return. For now, the Cardinals will try to stay afloat with the underneath attack.

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