Arizona Cardinals: Brentson Buckner is a difference maker

The hiring of defensive line coach Brentson Buckner in January 2020 could be the single best move for Arizona’s defense this season.

It’s an unfortunate truth that assistant coaches are usually not very familiar to fanbases. It is a rare type of fan that can tell you the running backs coach of their team. But regardless of how much or little fame that comes with being as assistant coach in the NFl, they are integral to their teams success.

One assistant coach that many Arizona Cardinals fans do remember is Brentson Buckner. As the defensive line coach for the Cardinals from 2013-2017, Buckner was an important part of an era of Arizona football that was defined by good defense. Also, anyone who watched the All or Nothing series that documented the 2015 season remembers the boisterous Buckner shouting advice to his players from the sideline.

Affectionately referred to simply as “Buck”, Buckner played 12 seasons in the NFL as a defensive lineman for Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, San Francisco, and Carolina. After his playing career came to an end in 2006, he has been an assistant coach for 7 years with stints in Arizona, Tampa Bay, and Oakland.

The defensive line coached by Buck in Arizona was undoubtedly elite against the run, averaging the seventh best rushing defense in the league over 5 years. The Cards defense also averaged 12th in rushing touchdowns allowed over the same period.

With the Oakland Raiders in 2019, the D-line made a significant jump under Buckner’s tutelage. Going from a league-worst 13 sacks in 2018 to 32 in 2019 and the eighth overall rushing defense shows the kind of production Buck is able to get out of his players.

One face on the Cardinals defensive line that has a history with Buckner is the stalwart Corey Peters. Speaking to Paul Calvisi and Ron Wolfley Peters had this to say about the returning coach:

I love his brutal honesty. I think as a player the one thing you can hope for is for a coach who can hold you to a standard, somebody who sets a standard that’s high but reachable. And then finds a way for you to reach it. Arizona Sports 98.7 FM

It is no secret that the Cardinals defense suffered in 2019. Being 31st against the pass and 24th against the run tells you all you need to know about last seasons struggles on this side of the ball. After giving up almost 2,000 yards to opposing run games, it is clear that there needs to be a change in Arizona.

Next: Cardinals: Coaches and players showing unity

Offseason additions to the defense give hope that the Cardinals will be able to significantly improve their defensive performance. Fans and players alike are hoping at least part of that change will come with the arrival of Coach Brentson Buckner, and given his excellent track record in the NFL, it seems perfectly reasonable to have that hope.


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