A new coordinator’s defensive scheme will present the Arizona Cardinals’ front office with some interesting decisions at linebacker
The Arizona Cardinals’ defense will look much different in 2019. New coordinator Vance Joseph is bringing back the 3-4 alignment that the squad abandoned last season. The transition will bring about change, specifically to the team’s linebacker position.
Chandler Jones, who lined up at defensive end last year, will be returning to an outside linebacker post this fall. The pass-rush specialist was sensational at that spot in 2017, registering an NFL-leading 17 quarterback sacks. Markus Golden, who’s scheduled to hit the free agent market in March, would also be moving back to outside linebacker if he re-signs with the Cards.
The general consensus is that Arizona, who owns the first-overall pick in this April’s draft, will select pass-rusher Nick Bosa. The 21-year old played defensive end for the Ohio State Buckeyes, but would be an outside linebacker with the Cardinals. The organization would most likely permit Golden to walk if they decide to add Bosa to the roster.
The two inside linebacker jobs currently belong to Josh Bynes and Haason Reddick. Bynes tallied an impressive 75 tackles and two sacks in 2018, despite the fact that the 29-year old missed five games because of an injured thumb. Reddick racked up 80 tackles, four sacks and five pass breakups during an outstanding sophomore campaign.
The wildcard of the bunch is former first-round pick Deone Bucannon. The free agent-to-be, like quite a few others, was misused terribly last season by the previous coaching staff. There’s a rumor circulating that former Cards’ coaches Bruce Arians and Todd Bowles would like “Buc” to join them with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Arizona’s linebacking corps has the potential to be a pretty formidable group in ’19. A lineup consisting of Jones, Reddick, Bynes and Bosa certainly looks good on paper. A foursome like that could go a long way in helping improve a defense that struggled so mightily last fall.