Arizona Cardinals could feature improved pass rush this fall
The Arizona Cardinals have added several players this offseason who are more than capable of putting pressure on quarterbacks
Entering the 2020 offseason, the Arizona Cardinals had several areas of need to address. The club’s pass rush, in particular, garnered the attention of the front office over the past few months. The Cards defense registered 40 quarterback sacks last season, a mediocre amount that ranked them somewhere in the middle of the pack among NFL teams.
Realizing that improvement in that department was vital, Arizona general manager Steve Keim went searching for individuals who may be able to help. Pro bowl outside linebacker Chandler Jones recorded an outstanding 19 of the squad’s sacks, but no one else on the Cardinals roster applied any kind of consistent pressure . Acquiring some assistance for Jones became a necessity, so Keim went out and found three defenders who have shown a proclivity for getting to the passer.
Devon Kennard, a free agent pickup from the Detroit Lions, could turn out to be a fine compliment to Jones. The outside linebacker, who was signed to a three-year, $20 million contract back in March, has racked up seven sacks in each of the past two campaigns. Kennard, a fifth-round draft pick of the New York Giants back in 2014, has amassed 23.5 sacks during his six years in the league.
Arizona’s defensive line wreaked very little havoc on signal-callers last fall, so Keim set his sights on another free agent who could help the organization with that issue. Jordan Phillips, a defensive tackle from the Buffalo Bills, tallied a career-best 9.5 sacks in 2019. The 27-year old, a former second-round selection of the Miami Dolphins, was inked to a three-year, $30 million deal by the Cards.
Isaiah Simmons, the Cardinals first-round choice from this past April’s draft, also has the tools to be an effective pass-rusher. The Clemson University star registered eight sacks in 15 games for the Tigers last season. Simmons will line up at inside linebacker in coordinator Vance Joseph‘s 3-4 alignment, so he’ll be applying pressure from right up the gut.
On paper, it appears that Keim and company have provided Jones with some badly-needed support. If everything goes according to plan, opposing quarterbacks will be terrorized by a revamped Arizona pass rush this coming fall.