The Arizona Cardinals defense will have a bright spotlight on them in 2020. The defense must become the anchor and not dead weight.
Heading into the 2020 NFL season, the Kliff Kingsbury and his Arizona Cardinals offense is geared for a monumental leap after upgrading the offensive line and trading for star wide-out De’Andre Hopkins. The Cardinals made some quality additions on defense.
The Cardinals signed former Atlanta Falcons linebacker De’Vondre Campbell during free agency. Campbell is coming off his best season to date with 129 tackles, two sacks, three forced fumbles, and two interceptions. Campbell will bring aggressiveness, toughness, and athleticism to this defense.
The draft brought defensive coordinator Vance Joseph more defensive toys to utilize. Rashard Lawrence and Leki Fotu were selected to bolster the defensive line. Arizona was the 9th worst run defense in the league last season, allowing 120 yards per game. Fotu has a massive and thick frame at 6-5 and 337 pounds. He is a physical run stuffer that will increase the effectiveness against the run.
Adding bulk and physicality to the defensive line was imperative this off-season. The pick with the most impact potential is linebacker/safety hybrid Isaiah Simmons. Simmons is a twitchy and freakish athlete with a versatile skill set.
In the tweet below, Simmons showcases that versatility by playing deep safety. His range and ability to cover ground is a sight to see.
Simmons’ biggest area of contribution would come against tight ends. Stating the Cardinals struggled against opposing tight ends is the understatement of the year. Arizona finished as the worst defense against those big pass catchers. In 16 games last season, this defense allowed 98 receptions on 130 targets for 1,173 yards and 16 touchdowns. Tight ends were practically walking through Arizona like established homeowners.
Simmons should be tasked early and often to defend the opposing tight ends. He will face names like Zach Ertz, George Kittle (twice), T.J. Hockenson, Mike Gesicki to name a few. Isaiah Simmons’ development, positional deployment, and adjustment to the NFL game will be pivotal for the Cardinals defensive success.
If the offense lives up to the off-season hype, they will be competitive every week. The defense will be the deciding factor on the level of success the Arizona Cardinals will have in 2020. They will be needed to be the anchor for this team instead of becoming dead weight and holding them back.