Getting Defensive: Arizona Cardinals, Week 1
The regular season is upon us, and James Bettcher’s unit is ready to stake their claim as one of the NFL’s best defenses
The 2016 campaign for the Cardinals’ defense was one to remember, and it’s hard to imagine how much better it can be in 2017. Expectations are high in the desert, as once again “putting a ring” on their fingers will be the ultimate goal.
With key losses via free agency, doubt filled the desert air as the start of the new NFL year came crashing in. Steve Keim had his hands full as he tried to replace those that departed. The draft brought us two players — Hasson Reddick and Budda Baker — that have had a great off-season getting acclimated to the team.
The rookies join a squad that had some eye-popping numbers in 2016. The Cardinals led the NFL in sacks, with 48. They generated 28 takeaways, allowed 210.3 yards passing (4th) and 94.9 yards rushing (9th). Those numbers allowed them to finish 2nd overall in total defense (305.2 YPG).
One area that does need improvement, however, is points allowed. The Cardinals allowed 22.6 points per game (14th) — leaving them in the middle of the pack. Much too high for a team looking to bounce back from a losing season.
Bucannon out with a sprained ankle
Deone Bucannon was on schedule to fully return from off-season surgery; however, on Monday, he sprained his ankle during practice and has “no chance” at playing this Sunday against the Lions. A major setback for a position that missed him severely during the preseason.
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Rookie Haason Reddick will have his hands full in his first real game as a professional. A baptism-by-fire, if you will. A great opportunity for a player with high upside and tremendous talent.
As far as Bucannon’s return, head coach Bruce Arians was on record saying, “it could be tomorrow, it could be three weeks.” With no definitive answer for his return, this defense will need to move on for now. The Lions will look to take advantage and see what the run defense will allow during his absence.
Let’s just hope, there aren’t any additional setbacks as the regular season (finally!) gets underway.