The Number One run defense in the NFL in the year 2013. That’s really all I should have to say. And if I wasn’t such a blow hard and in love with my own words that would be the only statement under this headline. But, seeing as how I like to go on and on using as many overblown descriptives as possible, let’s start by calling this particular group of players what I affectionately refer to them as. Ladies and gentleman, I bring you THE GREAT WALL OF GLENDALE.
Defensive Ends are responsible for keeping the offense they are facing on their toes. Their meant first and foremost to contain the run, push the pile and allow other players, like Linebackers for instance, to get into the backfield and blow up plays. Defensive Tackles are meant to contain anything that comes running in between the Defensive Ends. Whether it’s a Running Back or a Running Quarterback it’s their job to wrap up, drive them back and make them eat turf. The Defensive Ends and the Defensive Tackles of the Arizona Cardinals do these jobs and do them well. And what makes them different than the average unit is that they are not content with JUST doing their job “well”.
Calais Campbell DE - This man has no business being as fast as he is. And yet there were times in 2013 it seemed that he simply appeared next to the Quarterback. As if he teleported like some X-Men mutant out of thin air. BAMF! “Hi, I’m Calais. Prepare to die.” When it comes to rushing the quarterback he’s one of the best in the league. What makes him even more deadly is how he can traverse the field in the run game. I’ve stood next to him. He’s as tall as an NBA player and as wide and imposing as a Mack Truck. He’s all arms and when a speedy carrier comes his way his pythons wrap up faster than Eminem at a Speed Reading Contest.
What makes him so special however, isn’t just how he handles himself on the field. He’s a leader off as well. He’s been in the league 6 seasons now and has seen the highest highs (his rookie year the Cardinals went to the Super Bowl) and the lowest lows (last year he watched his team go 4-0 to start and not win another game until week 16). On the sidelines if things are getting out of hand Calais’ voice can be heard calling for calm and patience. In the locker room he’ll pull players aside and offer advice on any number of subjects.
Luckily Calais signed a huge contract last year and will continue to be a force of nature for the Cardinals for years to come. Even more luckily, that huge contract hasn’t slowed his passion for the game. He wants to be a champion. He needs to be a champion. And this writer believes that if he continues to fight they way he’s been, he’s going to be.
Darnell Dockett DT - What is this man? Is he a man at all? Whether he’s buying a pet alligator, taking nude pictures of himself and posting them on Twitter or just plain laughing in the face of expectation, Darnell Dockett is simply undefinable. As a captain his voice is louder than most. He talks to his men as if they were soldiers in battle. He demands they give their all, leaving their blood on the field. And he leads by example. Time and time again in 2013 Darnell could be seen blowing up big plays, stuffing Running Backs in the back field and chasing down frightened Quarterbacks. When it was time for “Beast Mode” Marshawn Lynch to face off against Darnell in the second divisional matchup between the Seattle Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals, Darnell made sure to show Lynch who was the true “beast”.
2012 was a strange season for Dockett. He was convinced that come 2013 he would no longer be a Cardinal. Like Safety Adrian Wilson Dockett thought he would be shipped off to another team or cut in the offseason. But when Steve Keim and Bruce Arians came onboard after the Cardinals made their first moves, they made it clear to Dockett that they wanted him to stay with the team. And that must have meant something to Darnell because in 2013 he had 46 Tackles, 36 of which were Solo and 4.5 Sacks. And these STATS don’t even mention the number of times he pressured a QB into making an errant pass.
Dan Williams DT - Big Dan Williams. If Darnell Dockett is the Warrior’s Heart of the Team Big Dan is the Laughing Buddha. He’s always got a smile on his face. Especially when he’s playing a brick in THE GREAT WALL OF GLENDALE. But what’s this about number 92 being a Defensive Tackle? It says here, that he has a Pick 6 under his belt for 2013. Shouldn’t that make him a Linebacker or better yet a Cornerback? Don’t let his size and designation fool ya, folks. This man has hands and he’s not afraid to show ‘em. Keeping his weight down may be his only issue but it seems that in the past two years he’s been able to keep the padlock on the fridge.
Alameda Ta’amu DT – The word “versatile” comes to mind when thinking about this big totem of a man. I say that because Alameda not only makes his bones on the defense but he gets down and dirty on the offense as well. That’s right, he goes both ways. When the Cardinals needed a big piece to open up a big hole they looked to Ta’amu to saddle up as a Full Back. And since he started running in that package the rush game of the Dirty Birds started to take off. But it’s still in the defense where he causes the most havoc. He’s a big man and when he came charging toward offenses in 2013 it was a sight to see. Seeing Alameda go down in the last game against the San Francisco 49ers was no pleasure though. Let’s pray the big man is up and at ‘em soon.
Frostee Rucker DE - Under the radar, but no less effective. Frostee came to Arizona from Ohio in 2013. And even though he didn’t have nearly as noticeable a season as he put up for the Cleveland Browns last year and the Cincinnati Bengals the year before you’d have to be deaf to not hear his named called during the season. He was there, often running offensive players into the open arms of his other teammates. Like Ronald Talley he may not be here next year, but look for him to make an impact wherever he lands.
Ronald Talley DE – See above for Frostee Rucker. Pretty much the same guy.
Well, that’s it. Next I’ll be looking at the mastermind himself Todd Bowles. Until then, stay ornery Arizona.