Five things to watch for Sunday when the Cardinals play the Packers at Lambeau Field in Green Bay:
Rosen and The Dude
Josh Rosen is a fan and a friend of Aaron Rodgers, at one point calling him “The Dude.” It wasn’t a “Big Lebowski” reference, much to everyone’s chagrin. “It’s was just he’s that guy, that man,” Rosen said. “I guess I thought it was funny.” What’s not funny is the way Rodgers can dice up a defense. It’s the kind of play the Cardinals hope to get from Rosen someday. At this point, they just hope Rosen can take that opening drive he had against the Chargers last week and have it carry over through most of the game. That consistency is missing. Rodgers hasn’t been quite as consistent this year as he normally is, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t still excellent and dangerous. He most certainly still is “The Dude.”
An offensive line by any other name
Remember that offensive line, left to right, with D.J. Humphries, Mike Iupati, A.Q. Shipley, Justin Pugh and Andre Smith? That’s long gone. Only Humphries and Iupati could be part of the starting lineup Sunday in Green Bay, and Humphries still has been limited this week with his knee problems that have kept him out the past two games. Mason Cole is the center. Oday Aboushi is going back to right guard. Korey Cunningham replaces the just-released Smith, unless Humphries cannot go and Cunningham has to play the left side. Meanwhile, dipping any further into the depth chart means using guys like Zack Golditch and Will Holden, players that are recently signed. If continuity is one of the most important parts to an offensive line, the Cardinals are the opposite of that.
Chandler Jones seeks meeting with Rodgers
With Packers left tackle David Bakhtiari banged up with knee injuries, there is a chance Cardinals defensive end Chandler Jones will get a chance to go against a backup – one of the few places the Cardinals figure to have a matchup advantage on the road. Rodgers can be gotten to – he’s been sacked 34 times in 11 games – and rushing the passer is one of the things the Cardinals’ defense has done well this season. Jones leads the way with 11 sacks. Rodgers can be excellent on broken plays, but the Cardinals have shown they can cause some problems for quarterbacks.
A back end in question
That pass rush will be important because the secondary remains in flux, as do the linebackers. Budda Baker looks like he will return as the nickel/third safety, which will help. But with Josh Bynes done for the season, it’ll likely be up to veteran Gerald Hodges and Haason Reddick to handle the linebacker duties, especially with Deone Bucannon still banged up. Moving further back. David Amerson will be the third different guy to start at cornerback across from Patrick Peterson. The first two both were cut, which is far from ideal and telling at the same time.
Lambeau Field and all that comes with it
The weather might be frightful. The history awe-inspiring. But the biggest issue the Cardinals face Sunday is simply a road game in a place where the Packers are undefeated this season at 4-0-1 and are desperate to stay in the playoff chase. Rosen said he’s looking forward to playing there, other veterans shrug their shoulders at it being just another game. The Cardinals have only played there three times since moving to Arizona in 1988, with no wins. The fourth game won’t be easy, regardless of the non-football circumstances.