The defensive backfield of the Arizona Cardinals could pay huge dividends for the club when the 2019 campaign rolls around
Truth be told, the defense of the Arizona Cardinals was not very good this past season. Former head coach Steve Wilks insisted on implementing a scheme that was destined to fail. A 4-3 alignment was never going to work with the personnel that they possessed, a point that was consistently proven throughout the year.
But despite the unit’s struggles, there was one area of the defense that more than held their own during the campaign. While the Cardinals’ were getting gashed repeatedly by opposing team’s rushing attacks, the squad’s secondary competed impressively. And the group has the potential to be even better in 2019.
The star of the defensive backfield is eight-time Pro Bowler Patrick Peterson. The 28-year old, who has tallied 23 interceptions and 76 passes defensed during his eight-year career, is arguably the best cornerback in the NFL. Peterson, who is routinely assigned to shadow the opponent’s best wide receiver each week, is showing no signs of slowing down.
While Peterson has already achieved stardom, Budda Baker may one day reach that status as well. The second-year safety finished with 102 tackles in 2018, good for second-best on the Cards. General manager Steve Keim moved up in the 2017 draft to select Baker, a maneuver that is paying off handsomely.
Arizona’s front office pulled off another savvy move on Christmas Day, when they plucked D.J. Swearinger off of the waiver wire. The 27-year old safety, who had played with the organization previously (2015-16), was released by the Washington Redskins after criticizing their coaching staff. Swearinger racked up 132 tackles, eight picks and 20 pass breakups during his two campaigns in the nation’s capital.
David Amerson, who was another in-season pickup, may have solved the Cardinals’ long-standing, number-two cornerback dilemma. The 27-year old, who was cut by the Kansas City Chiefs just prior to the league’s opening weekend, played admirably since being acquired in November. Amerson has a good chance of retaining the starting job he seized towards the end of this season in 2019.
Whoever the Cards end up hiring as their defensive coordinator will be inheriting a darn good secondary. In fact, it may very well be the strength of the team in ’19. Those who have said that Arizona’s roster is devoid of talent obviously forgot that Peterson and company are a part of it.