Cardinals plan to blitz Austin Davis early, often

TEMPE, Ariz. -- The scouting report on St. Louis quarterback Austin Davis is fairly easy to digest.

He’s mobile, quick on his feet, but doesn’t handle the blitz very well. He even said so himself.

“Honestly, I see at times there’s good where I hang in and there’s color and there’s a little pressure, but I slide and move, and then there are other times when I (escape) too quick,” Davis said. “I’ve seen both, and I haven’t really seen a progression over the games. I’ve seen more of just hit or miss. I’m looking to become more consistent in that.”

That might not happen Sunday.

It’s no secret that the Arizona Cardinals’ blitz has been a disruption for opposing quarterbacks. They’re completing 59.7 percent of their passes when the Cardinals bring five or more rushers, compared to 65.1 when Arizona doesn’t blitz, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

Davis knows what it’s like to be rattled by a blitz. He’s completing 59.4 percent of his passes facing it and 66.7 percent against a normal rush. Sunday at University of Phoenix Stadium won’t get much easier for the first-year starter.

The Cardinals are blitzing on 41.5 percent of quarterback drop backs, the fifth-highest rate in the league. They’ve been effective when blitzing on third down, intercepting four passes while allowing just one touchdown. This is one area where Davis has shined against blitzes, however, throwing for three touchdowns against one interception on third down.

Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said on SiriusXM NFL Radio this week that he’s watched Davis improve throughout the season. He’s learning how to pick up different blitzes and pick up different pointers on third down and in the two-minute drill, Arians said.

“There’s a balance between saving sacks and avoiding pressure and flooding the pocket too quick,” Davis said. “That’s all something I’m trying to get better at and trying to do a better job of. Hopefully, I can continue to do that.”

It’s unlikely to happen against the Cardinals on Sunday. On tape, they’ve seen have seen how erratic Davis can be against the blitz. And Rams coach Jeff Fisher said the Cardinals' defense is a challenge to prepare for because of its “diversity.” Arizona is known for bringing blitzes in all shapes and forms, leaving Davis to figure them out as he goes.

“I think he’s a guy that can extend plays,” safety Tyrann Mathieu said. “I think the blitz gets to him. He’ll just throw the ball up. We’ll have a chance to make a play. I think at the end of the day, though, teams are going to try to come and run the football on us, so I think that’s what the Rams are going to do.

“I don’t think they’re going to put the game in Austin Davis’ hands.”