Arizona Cardinals’ history loaded with sack artists


Chandler Jones and Markus Golden are candidates vying to smash the Arizona Cardinals quarterback sack records

One of the NFL’s most successful offseason moves belongs to the Arizona Cardinals. When a franchise is able to acquire a stud pass rusher via a trade, there’s reason to celebrate. Big-time sack artists, like shutdown cornerbacks, aren’t easy to obtain.

General manager Steve Keim handed the Cardinal defense a gift when he went out and got outside linebacker Chandler Jones. So far, the results have been favorable. He’s amassed seven sacks through nine games to lead the club.

This season, besides Jones, Markus Golden has shown a strong ability to get to quarterbacks. He’s right behind Jones with six sacks. Without a doubt, Golden has benefitted from the attention Jones garners.

Perhaps the most prolific sack meister in Cards’ history was Simeon Rice. He racked up 51.5 quarterback takedowns during his five-year stay in the desert. He was blessed with exceptional speed, and used his tall, lanky build to his advantage.

An unheralded defensive end/outside linebacker named Freddie Joe Nunn accumulated 66.5 sacks in nine seasons with the Cardinals. Nunn was the 18th overall pick in the 1985 draft out of Mississippi.

Nunn formed a dynamic pass-rushing duo with another first-round draft pick, the University of California’s Ken Harvey. He delivered 47.5 sacks in six seasons before departing Arizona in 1994. Harvey was an impressive combination of speed and strength, and terrorized opposing offenses off the edge.

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Curtis Greer played seven years with the St.Louis Cardinals during the 1980’s. He’s credited with 50.5 quarterback takedowns, but most likely had more than that. The NFL didn’t start keeping sack stats until his third year in the league.

Defensive tackle Eric Swann didn’t get his sacks off the edge. Instead he used a combination of brute strength and abnormal speed to make life miserable for centers and guards. He registered 45.5 sacks predominantly from the inside.

Defensive end Bertrand Berry chipped in 40.0 sacks during his time in Arizona. He spent six years in the desert, mostly as a situational rusher.

Other sack kings made cameos with the Cardinals. Buddy Ryan protégé Clyde Simmons came up with 17.0 sacks in only two seasons. One of the all-time rushers, John Abraham, had 11.5 in 2013 and represented the squad in the Pro Bowl.

The Cardinals organization has had excellent pass-rushers over the years. The trick is to keep finding more. One thing’s for certain, you can never have enough.