Ranked #1 in the NFL entering week 15 the Arizona Cardinals defense was completely exposed by quarterback Drew Brees
It’s true that the Arizona Cardinals defense was ranked first in the NFL after 13 games. But in reality, the unit was unworthy of it’s top ranking.
Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints proved that by dismantling defensive coordinator James Bettcher’s group this past Sunday. Drive after drive ended up in a Saints’ score, proving that the NFL’s ranking system is flawed.
The ranking is based on yards given up by the unit, while it should be based on points allowed. Even head coach Bruce Arians scoffed at the notion that his team had the “best” defense in the league.
The main problem remains the secondary. Arizona is in desperate need of defensive backs that can cover. Not one of them performed well on Sunday, not even perennial Pro Bowler Patrick Peterson.
New Orleans wide receiver Brandin Cooks proved to be a huge problem. He badly beat safety D.J. Swearinger on a 65-yard touchdown in the second quarter. It would seem Bettcher’s scheme would be at least partly to blame, because Swearinger covering Cooks was a bad idea.
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Cooks added another score about four minutes later, this time victimizing slot cornerback Tyrann Mathieu. Mathieu’s coverage on the 45-yarder was laughable. He was trailing the speedy receiver by a good three or four yards on the play.
Management doled out a load of cash this offseason to the “Honey Badger “. In an injury-plagued year, the fourth-year pro has been frighteningly mediocre. The front office better hope the injuries haven’t zapped Mathieu of his skills, and that his All-Pro form returns next season.
Staying on the poor coverage subject, Kevin Minter showed how much of a coverage liability he is at times on Sunday. Draft bust Brandon Williams was once again burnt for a touchdown. Fellow rookie Michael Thomas beat him for a go-ahead score in the fourth quarter.
But the defensive drubbing can’t all be blamed on the pass defense. Mark Ingram, former Cardinal Tim Hightower and Travaris Cadet combined for 131 yards on the ground and two scores.
What we saw this past weekend was one of the worst defensive performances in recent Cardinals’ history. The good news is that general manager Steve Keim is going to have the whole upcoming offseason to fix what’s wrong. Let’s hope he can.