St. Louis switched to a 4-3 defense and played a rookie cornerback against Minnesota Sunday. The Cardinals upset the Vikings, 30-17, and Coach Jim Hanifan said yesterday he will stay with that defense when his team faces the Redskins Sunday at RFK Stadium.
Hanifan likes to call his new defense the 40-30. The primary reasons for using it are tackles Curtis Green and Rush Brown. "Personnel always dictate what defense you use, but it still comes down to execution," Hanifan said. "Our defensive linemen are just more suited to the 40-30."
Against the Vikings, the Cardinals also started rookie Jeff Griffin at right cornerback. The third player to man that spot this season, the 6-foot, 185-pound third-round draft choice from Utah made an impressive debut against the Vikings, getting eight tackles and breaking up seven passes.
All-pro Roger Wehrli began the season at the right corner, but lost his job to Tim Collier, who, in turn, lost it to Griffin. All of them still see plenty of action, though: The Cardinals often play six or seven defensive backs when they expect an opponent to pass. For the rest of the secondary, Carl Allen remains at the left corner and Ken Green and Lee Nelson are the safeties.
The 4-3 alignment also allowed the Cardinals to put more pressure on Minnesota quarterback Tommy Kramer, who completed only 25 of 55 passes. He was sacked three times and called for intentional grounding twice.
Offensively, the Cardinals still are struggling. Running back Ottis Anderson, who had six 100-yard games last season and gained 1,605 yards, hasn't had a 100-yard day yet this season. He has gained 556 yards.
Quarterback Jim Hart completed 13 of 26 passes for 191 yards and two touchdowns Sunday, with three of the receptions by Roy Green. Green also is one of the extra defensive backs and intercepted a pass against the Redskins in the Cardinals' 40-30 victory in September. As a backup wide receiver he has 18 catches for 422 yards and two touchdowns. He also plays on special teams.
St. Louis tight end Doug Marsh will be unable to play indefinitely after dislocating his hip Sunday. He will be replaced by Doug LeFleur. Marsh is the better blocker, LeFleur the superior pass receiver.