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Thursday, January 15, 2009
A quick look at the Cardinals' four-man line

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

One of the subjects discussed in the chat sent me searching through the Cardinals-Panthers video for more information.

To review, here's the chat item in question, with the answer I gave at the time:

Ken (Scottsdale, AZ): Mike, you track every play. The Cards now play Docket, Berry, Robinson, and Watson on every running down. This could have something to do with the improved run defense. Word from the local media is that the players came to the coaches to make this switch.

Mike Sando: I have noticed that four-man line. I do not know if players asked for the change. It does seem to make some sense.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic touched on this recently. I had noticed some of these four-man lines in the game, but hadn't analyzed it at all.

I've had time to re-watch the first quarter of the Cardinals-Panthers game, covering four Carolina possessions. During that time, the Cardinals used four-man lines when the Panthers used two backs, two tight ends and one receiver.

DeAngelo Williams gained 31 yards on the first run, a first-and-10 play. The Cardinals' line, left to right, consisted of Antonio Smith, Darnell Dockett, Gabe Watson and Bryan Robinson.

Arizona stopped Williams for no gain on the second play in question, a third-and-2 situation to end the Panthers' second drive. The Cardinals' line, left to right, featured Dockett, Watson, Smith and Robinson. I hope to take a look at a larger sample size, but first I wanted to pass along what I found in looking at the first quarter.

The Panthers switched between three main personnel groupings in that first quarter. These included regular personnel with two backs, one tight end and two receivers (eight snaps); "12" personnel with one back, two tight ends and two receivers (one play, a pass, against a three-man line); and those two snaps of "22" personnel with two backs, two tight ends and one receiver.