Arizona Cardinals defense shows improvement in third outing
It was by no means a perfect performance, but the defense of the Arizona Cardinals did play better against the Minnesota Vikings
When the Arizona Cardinals flew to Minnesota to play the Vikings on Saturday, their defense had something to prove. While the performance of coordinator Vance Joseph‘s group was far from perfect against Kirk Cousins and company, there was certainly improvement in the air. After two weeks of uninspired play during the current preseason, a step in the right direction for the Arizona defenders was sorely needed.
Things started off on the right foot for the Cards defense on Minnesota’s opening drive. The matchup could’ve actually gotten off to a disaster had Cousins connected with wide receiver Stefon Diggs on a fly pattern, but the pass was overthrown. Instead, the Cardinals benefited from the quarterback’s inaccuracy, forcing a badly-needed three and out on the Vikings’ offense to begin the day.
Arizona seemed to be reverting back to the previous two exhibition games on Minnesota’s second possession of the afternoon. Running back Dalvin Cook took a handoff from Cousins and raced 85 yards to paydirt, leaving would-be tacklers far behind. Joseph’s unit looked vulnerable once again, but there was still enough time left in the contest to recover from the huge mistake.
The Cards managed to rebound from Cook’s dagger, and they did so in impressive fashion. The Vikings were forced to punt three straight times after the explosive touchdown scamper. The Cardinals could’ve curled up in the fetal position after giving up that long score, but the defensive crew battled back instead.
Cousins’ final passing statistics were downright ugly. The 31-year old signal-caller completed just 3 of 13 passes for 35 yards and no touchdowns. Cousins hit Diggs for 29 of those yards late in the second quarter, when Arizona’s first-team starters had already been pulled from the action.
Minnesota’s starting passer was also pressured consistently on his dropbacks. Cards rookie defensive end Michael Dogbe flattened Cousins on one play for a sack which cost the Vikes eight yards. First-year lineman Zach Allen combined with linebacker Pete Robertson for another takedown of the quarterback on the Vikings next drive.
The play of a couple of the Cardinals second-team performers is also worth mentioning. Rookie safety Deionte Thompson registered a game-high nine tackles. Linebacker Brooks Reed recorded five stops (one for a loss) and also tallied a sack.
All in all, Arizona’s defense passed the dress rehearsal test. The ability to stop the opponent’s running attack remains an issue, but there’s still two weeks until the season-opener. Perhaps Joseph will learn from the film, and devise a scheme that will make the unit a formidable contingent once again.