The loss of defensive end Calais Campbell this past offseason has been a huge blow to the Arizona Cardinals’ organization
The Arizona Cardinals must’ve thought their defense would be okay. It’s not known what kind of efforts were made this past March to retain a star free agent of their’s, Calais Campbell. What is known is that defensive coordinator James Bettcher’s unit hasn’t been the same without the 6’8″, 300 pounder.
This Sunday’s opponent, the Jacksonville Jaguars, were only too happy to bring the giant defensive end aboard. Campbell, one of the Cards’ all-time greats, is excelling under the Florida sunshine. With six games yet to play, Arizona’s second-round draft pick in 2008 has already set a career-high for quarterback sacks (11.5), leading the Jaguars.
The Cardinals’ remaining defensive linemen have not fared nearly as well getting to signal-callers. Olsen Pierre’s two and a half sacks leads the club’s linemen, while Frostee Rucker has tallied one and a half. Corey Peters, Josh Mauro, and Rodney Gunter have contributed one apiece, with Xavier Williams registering one half of a QB takedown.
Campbell, meanwhile, has been a major cog on an All-star defense in Jacksonville. Defensive coordinator Todd Wash’s unit has explosive performers on each level. The Cards’ offense could be in for a long day on Sunday.
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Defensive end Yannick Ngakoue’s nine sacks rank him second on the Jaguars, behind only Campbell. Their 2015 first-round draft pick Dante Fowler has six and a half, while five have been credited to former Denver Bronco Malik Jackson. Linebackers Myles Jack and Telvin Smith are the group’s leading tacklers.
Jacksonville’s secondary has been especially impressive. Another free agent pickup, cornerback A.J. Bouye, has been worth every penny he received to leave the Houston Texans. Tashaun Gipson, Barry Church and Aaron Colvin have also made plays.
The star of the defensive backfield is second-year corner Jalen Ramsey. The Cards may have caught a break since its been reported that the 6’2″, 211 pounder jammed a hand during practice. When asked if he’d be facing Arizona, Ramsey answered “no”, but Jags’ observers feel the stud will be playing this weekend nevertheless.
It seems that the four-year, $60 million contract that Jacksonville forked over to Campbell was too rich for the Cardinals. After giving Chandler Jones $83 million over five years, there was the salary cap to consider. The outside linebacker has also been worth the money, but it’s a shame that the Cards couldn’t keep both.
However you slice it, losing Campbell has hurt Arizona both on and off the field. Besides his considerable talent, the product out of the University of Miami was also extremely charitable. Campbell has obviously found a new home, but will always be remembered fondly for the time he spent in the desert.