Defensive Showdown in DC


The Arizona Cardinals face off against their former division foe, the Washington Redskins, this Sunday. Both ballclubs are coming off of tough losses and have been slammed by injuries to key personnel. At 3-3, the Cards are in first place in the NFC West only inches ahead of Seattle. At 3-2, the Skins are currently in third place in the always-tough NFC East and cannot afford to lose anymore ground as they try to grab their second division title in 3 years. There is a lot of talent on both of these ballclubs, but what this one is going to boil down to is the play of their defensive units.


The resurgent Washington defense has seemed to have found the fire again and is playing great football. They are in the top 15 once again and rank 7th in the league in pass defense. Their secondary, anchored by SS Sean Taylor and the impressive play of rookie FS La’Ron Landry has been shutting teams down and creating turnovers all over the field. LBs Rocky McIntosh, London Fletcher and Marcus Washington have been equally impressive, playing very well against the run. Wash Def. Coordinator Greg Davis is known for creating gameplans that confuse opposing QBs by giving them multiple looks and bringing pressure from all angles, and I’m sure he will want to do the same given the Cards current QB situation.


Meanwhile, the surprising play of the Cardinals defense and their quick transition to the 3-4 has turned a few heads in the league. The Cards defense is also in the top 15 in the league, and DT Darnell Dockett is tied for second in the NFC with six sacks and having a monster year. His counterpart, DT Antonio Smith, is also having a great year and has already garnered 8 tackles for loss through the first six games. Both OLB/DEs Calvin Pace and Bertrand Berry have been solid on the outside along with the play of ILB Gerald Hayes. Disregarding one mental lapse against the Panthers, this team has only allowed one 100 yard rusher in its past 11 games. Its lack of strength is in the secondary, especially if pro bowl SS Adrian Wilson is going to be sidelined. The secondary has the skills to do the job well, they have just been inconsistent at times this season and given up too many big plays. Pendergast will have to bring the pressure and try to force Campbell into some bad reads and hopefully create some turnovers.

Washington may seem to have the better D on paper, but this Cardinals defense should not be taken lightly. If the Skins do take them lightly, then they’ll end up just like Pittsburgh and Seattle.

Mike Duggan