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5Qs, 5As with Revenge of the Birds: How has Arizona been so competitive this year?

What’s Jonathan Gannon’s secret? “He is an excellent teacher and puts his players in a position to be successful”

Arizona Cardinals v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Rams play the middle game of their three-game homestand against the Arizona Cardinals who are 7-point underdogs according to DraftKings Sportsbook. Since Sean McVay was hired in 2017, LA has gone 11-2 against Arizona.

Will the Rams be able to maintain their dominance over their divisional foe on Sunday? I spoke with Seth Cox from SB Nation’s Cardinals blog Revenge of the Birds to gain more insight on the opposition ahead of their Week 6 matchup.

Q - Despite the Cardinals having a 1-4 record through the first five weeks of the season, they’ve been remarkably competitive. First-year head coach Jonathan Gannon has done a great job keeping his team in each game. What coaching tactics of Gannon’s have you liked and what could he improve on most?

A - He is an excellent teacher and puts his players in a position to be successful. Those are things you don’t see often, especially in a young coach but I think it was necessary with the lack of talent on the roster.

So, he is doing a really nice job of getting the most out of the players’ abilities and trying to find players that can be serviceable and potentially high end backups as they add more talent.

The other thing is he did a great job of building his staff as both offensive coordinator Drew Petzing and defensive coordinator Nick Rallis look like the real deal.

All of that has led to the Cardinals not looking completely inept despite the talent disparity in almost every game.

Q - Speaking of surprises, quarterback Josh Dobbs has performed well in Kyler Murray’s absence. Dobbs was acquired just 17 days before the season opener and has kept the offense afloat. Setting aside his three-turnover game against the Bengals in Week 5, how has Dobbs been able to thrive in Arizona’s offense?

A - Drew Petzing is a wizard. He’s done an excellent job of scheming things up, playing to Dobbs strengths and giving Dobbs easy throws.

It has also helped when they are playing close games so they don’t have to ask Dobbs to do too much, which is what we saw last week.

When Dobbs had James Conner and the run game was clicking it opened up a lot of things for Dobbs and Petzing has a great feel and understanding of when and where to take his shots.

Now it will take Petzing doing even more to help Dobbs out and continue to get this offense to be at least average.

Q - The Cardinals have played well in the first halves of games before noticeably cooling off once the second half rolls around. What would you attribute this to and how does Arizona fix their second half woes to close out games?

A - It is simply a talent issue. You can scheme around talent but most of the time, the more talented team is able to win out.

Especially the last two weeks we have seen that play out.

The Cardinals come in with a good scheme and prepared, they execute and keep things close and competitive.

When teams make adjustments they just don’t have enough talent to overcome and counterpunch right now.

So, can they get there? Maybe when Kyler Murray, James Conner, L.J. Collier, Budda Baker and some others get back healthy.

Right now though, it doesn’t feel like it.

Q - Arizona’s defense allowed Cincinnati star receiver Ja’Marr Chase to have his best game of the season with 15 catches for 192 yards and three touchdowns. Was that performance an outlier for the Cardinals’ secondary and how might Cooper Kupp and company best exploit their defense this Sunday?

A - Throw the ball? I mean I know it sounds simple but the Cardinals truly just lack talent to keep up.

You can’t cover good receivers for three plus seconds and you sure as hell can’t cover the 49ers, Bengals and Rams receivers for three seconds.

So, again if you aren’t blitzing and getting manufactured pressure, you lack the talent to truly rush the passer, you lack the talent to cover most of the time anyways and now you combine the two and you get get easy pickings.

The Cardinals have two day two picks in B.J. Ojulari and Garrett Williams who will hopefully help later this year and moving into the future, but for now it has been rough.

Q - Arizona is listed as a 7-point underdog with an O/U of 48.5 according to DraftKings Sportbook. How do the Cardinals get back into the win column and how do you see this matchup playing out?

A - I think it follows the same scripts.

Arizona comes out and plays well, keeps things close, maybe even has a lead in the third quarter.

The Rams talent on offense and defense eventually wins out and the Rams win this one. I do think the Cardinals cover or we see a push though.

Rams 27

Cardinals 21