The Arizona Cardinals first-team defense has been sliced and diced by both of the offenses they’ve faced thus far in the preseason
When they set out to find a new defensive coordinator this offseason, the Arizona Cardinals knew exactly what they wanted. The squad’s experiment with a 4-3 alignment in 2018 had gone incredibly wrong. Arizona general manager Steve Keim let it be known that whoever they hired would have to favor a 3-4 defense, an system that the organization had utilized for years.
With that in mind, the Cards seemed genuinely excited when Vance Joseph was brought in to do the job. After all, the 46-year old was a proponent of the 3-4, and had found success with various units he was associated with during his time in the NFL. The Cardinals were more than confident that Joseph would bring that experience to the desert, and make the team’s defense a force to be reckoned with once again.
While it would be way too early to panic, the performance of Joseph’s starting group against the Los Angeles Chargers and Oakland Raiders was downright ugly. Opposing running backs have had their way with Arizona’s defenders during the two exhibition contests, slicing through would-be tacklers with relative ease. The opposition’s quarterbacks have consistently found open pass-catchers in Joseph’s secondary during the last two games as well.
It’s not as if the Cards are devoid of talent on the defensive side of the ball. Patrick Peterson, Chandler Jones, Budda Baker, Terrell Suggs and D.J. Swearinger have all been on the field this summer when the poor play has occurred. That’s a talented batch of defenders who should be performing much better than they have in August.
Is it possible that Joseph is overrated as a defensive architect? Perhaps the Cardinals are only showing the league a watered-down version of what will take the field this fall. Head coach Kliff Kingsbury has promised that the offense he’s calling right now is “vanilla”, so maybe Joseph is also saving his best for the regular-season.
A solid showing by the defense this Saturday would make Arizona’s followers rest a little easier. Being able to hold Kirk Cousins and the rest of the talented Minnesota Vikings offense in check would certainly settle some nerves. Joseph needs to start showing the franchise and it’s fans that he has what it takes to turn around a Cards defense that lost it’s way last season.