Arizona Cardinals first-team defense has unimpressive debut

The performance of the Arizona Cardinals first-string defense left a lot to be desired during their preseason opener on Thursday

Fans of the Arizona Cardinals must have felt like they were experiencing a severe case of deja vu on Thursday night. The club’s defense, a unit that struggled mightily a year ago, was hoping to get off to a fast start during the opening drive of the preseason opener. Unfortunately, the group’s performance against the Los Angeles Chargers offense was eerily similar to what we witnessed for most of last season.

The Chargers scoring attack, led by second-team players Tyrod Taylor and Austin Ekeler, sliced and diced through Arizona’s defenders with surprising ease. New coordinator Vance Joseph‘s crew seemed to be out of position on just about every play. The Cards poor tackling, which was a major issue for the squad in 2018, was horrendous against Los Angeles as well.

Taylor and company marched 73 yards on seven plays, setting themselves up with a first-and-goal at the Cardinals two-yard line. Only a face-saving strip of Ekeler by newcomer Jordan Hicks prevented points from the Chargers. Arizona’s new starting inside linebacker also recovered the fumble, enabling the squad to take over on offense.

The Cards defense did very little right during their opponent’s march down the field. Taylor completed just two passes during the drive, but managed to add a 23-yard scamper that placed the football at the Cardinals 13-yard line. Ekeler got around the right end for 13 yards on one play, while Justin Jackson contributed an eight-yard gain around the left end on another call.

Perhaps Joseph was revealing a watered-down version of the 3-4 system that he’s implementing for the upcoming campaign. That hardly excuses the poor tackling that occurred versus Los Angeles, however. It’s obviously too early to panic, but it certainly appears that Arizona’s new defensive boss has a fair amount of work to do before the regular season gets underway.