Arizona Cardinals: Don’t forget the defense
The Arizona Cardinals talk has centered on the coach and quarterback over the past week but don’t forget the defense
Many of you who follow the Arizona Cardinals already know, but if you didn’t, did you know linebacker Chandler Jones lead the NFL in sacks in 2017? Yes, playing in his first season of his new contract, he had 17.5 sacks.
He is the first player in Cardinals history to lead the NFL in that category. Who was second? That would be Jacksonville Jaguars and former Cardinals defensive end Calais Campbell.
There were a lot of complaints that the Cardinals chose Jones over Campbell in the money grab last offseason. Could they have gone wrong with either guy? As it turns out, no.
The point is, the Cardinals defense, lead by Jones, was the heart of this team over the last five weeks of the season. Even in loss, the defense was decent for the most part.
There will be changes. They have to decide what to do with safety Tyrann Mathieu. He can’t be paid what he’s due to be paid. He’ll need to take a pay cut at his $14.1 million salary cap hit or the Cardinals may have to ship him elsewhere.
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The Cardinals were missing linebacker Markus Golden for three quarters of the season. His absence probably allowed Jones’ number to spike a little. Having them both on the field though would certainly be optimal.
The second starting cornerback could be solved, for now, if the Cardinals decide to keep Tramon Williams. He’s 34 but he didn’t play like an old guy.
Same can be said about safety Antoine Bethea. He lead the Cardinals in interceptions with five.
There will be a lot of talk of the Cardinals offense over the coming weeks but it may be the defense we need to pay attention to the most. That will be especially true if defensive coordinator James Bettcher doesn’t get the head coaching job and he is not retained as the DC next season.