Football Team

Good news for WFT: Kendall Fuller practiced in full on Wednesday

Football Team

Entering this past offseason, Washington was desperate for help at cornerback. To address that need, the Burgundy and Gold inked the versatile Kendall Fuller to a four-year, $40 million deal just two years after the team traded him to Kansas City.

Fuller's return to game action for Washington was delayed last week, as the cornerback was sidelined with a calf injury for the team's Week 1 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles.

It appears as if Fuller won't be in street clothes on game days much longer, however. The 25-year-old was a full participant in practice on Wednesday, a great sign regarding his status for Sunday's clash with the Arizona Cardinals.

Fuller getting healthy comes at a perfect, and much-needed, time for Washington.

If there was a team that requires its opposition to have as many cornerbacks as possible, it would be the Cardinals. Since taking over last season, Arizona head coach Kliff Kingsbury has employed an 'Air Raid' offensive scheme that has been unlike anything in the NFL before.

The 'Air Raid,' simply put, means that Arizona will have a lot of wide receivers on the field at once.

Last season, Arizona operated out of the '10 personnel' (1 running back, 0 tight ends) 31% of the time, which was by far the highest mark in the league. The next closest was Seattle, which used that formation just 8% of the time.

In the 10 personnel, four wide receivers are on the field, along with one running back. That requires the defense to have at least five, if not six, defensive backs on the field in order to best matchup against the offense.

 

The Cardinals have played just one game in 2020 thus far, but their usage of the 10 personnel has dipped drastically. Arizona operated from that formation just 14% of the time during Sunday's win over San Francisco, compared to 42% of snaps from 11 personnel and 32% from 12 personnel.

Stepping away from the analytics, Arizona has plenty of talent. The Cardinals boast three really talented wide receivers in DeAndre Hopkins, Larry Fitzgerald and Christian Kirk, all while having a rising star at running back in Kenyan Drake. 

The Cardinals acquired Hopkins, an annual All-Pro, in a blockbuster trade with Houston this offseason. It took no time for him to fit right into Kingsbury's scheme, as he amassed a career-best 14 catches this past Sunday.

Washington has a big challenge on its hands when it comes to slowing this Arizona attack. Despite a large amount of talent on the outside, Arizona's most important piece on the offense is QB Kyler Murray, who looks like a rising star.

Murray, the reigning Offensive Rookie of the Year, has proven to be a threat both with his arm and his legs. Perhaps only Baltimore passer Lamar Jackson, the league's 2019 MVP, is a bigger threat on the ground as a QB than Murray. The second-year QB finished with 91 rushing yards and a touchdown on Sunday in Arizona's upset win over San Francisco.

So, when it comes to slowing down the Cardinals offense come Sunday, Washington will need its best defensive players on the field. 

After a tough first quarter, the Washington secondary played well against Philadelphia last week. Both Fabian Moreau and Jimmy Moreland -- who started in place of Fuller -- hauled in interceptions, and the Washington offense turned both turnovers into touchdowns.

With Fuller back in the mix, it allows Washington to get even more creative with its coverages.

Fuller and Moreland can play both in the slot, which allows Moreau to line up on the outside where he's most comfortable. Washington also has Ronald Darby, who had a solid camp but gave up a deep ball to Eagles rookie Jalen Reagor in Week 1.

Entering Sunday, it's known that Arizona will be creative on offense. That's what Kingsbury has thrived on since taking over as head coach.

But, Fuller's return should also allow defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio to get creative for Washington on the back end. Combine that with the Burgundy and Gold's stellar defensive front -- one Kingsbury admitted gives him anxiety when he watched film -- and Sunday should be an excellent matchup between the two squads.

All personnel stats courtesy of SharpFootballStats.com