Editor's note: Each week, CardinalsSource looks at a particular play or a particular skill demonstrated by a Cardinals' player from the 2016 season in great detail. This week's CardinalsSource is examining the run-stopping capabilities of nose tackle Corey Peters by looking at a week 16 play against Seattle.
After missing the 2015 season with a serious Achilles' injury, nose tackle Corey Peters returned to the Arizona Cardinals in 2016 to play out the second year of a three-year contract.
Peters played the first five seasons of his career with the Atlanta Falcons before signing with Arizona to bolster the team's run-stopping capabilities in the interior of its defense.
During his first healthy season with Arizona, Peters proved to be a valuable asset, racking up 21 tackles and commanding enough attention on the line to allow players like Chandler Jones, Markus Golden and Calais Campbell to work in more favorable one-on-one situations.
Peters performed well against the run throughout the season, thanks in large part to a quick first step and a great initial burst that made him a challenging blocking assignment on zone run plays. To put that in perspective, CardinalsSource is looking at a week 16 run play the Seattle Seahawks ran against the Cardinals that Peters stopped in its tracks.
Prior to the snap, Arizona lined up with a 4-2-5 defensive front, allowing Jones to put his hand in the dirt and defensive end Josh Mauro to anchor the opposite side of the line of scrimmage.
In this alignment, Peters is set up in a four-shade on the outside shoulder of the right guard. If Seattle plans on running right, Peters knows he's responsible for shutting down the B-gap and pushing the offensive guard back off the line of scrimmage. if the Seahawks run left, Peters is responsible for tracking down the play from the back side of the line and beating the block of the right tackle.
At the snap, Seattle's linemen immediately rush left with zone blocking footwork that pits Peters against the Seattle right tackle. With the right guard attempting to reach the linebacker level and the right tackle responsible for Peters, the Seahawks leave Mauro unaccounted for and expect quarterback Russell Wilson to hold him with a play-action fake. By holding Mauro in his spot and reaching Peters with the right tackle, Seattle's goal is to set up a cutback lane for its running back if the play side becomes muddled.
Peters, however, foils the Seahawks plans almost immediately after the snap. Once he realizes the guard lined up in front of him wants to get to the linebacker level, he slides through the B-gap and begins scraping his way down the line of scrimmage, preventing the right tackle from securing a clean angle to block him from.
As a result, the cutback lane can't develop for the Seahawks' back, who must either follow his fullback into the hole, or attempt to bounce the play to the outside, where Jones has clearly established contain. Essentially, the back is out of options, and Peters makes his decision far more challenging because he's racing down the line of scrimmage to make a tackle in the backfield.
Eventually, when Seattle's fullback cuts up the field, so too does its running back, but Peters is already there to make the play. Peters secures a tackle and brings the back down for a two-yard loss, all because he started the play off with an excellent first step and reaction at the line of scrimmage that prevented the Seahawks' right tackle from having a clean angle to block from.
If Peters gets reached, perhaps a back side cutback lane develops and the Seahawks are able to make something out of nothing. However, because it does not, a simple zone play goes for a two-yard loss, and Peters forces Seattle to rethink the way it's going to block this play moving forward.