Arizona Cardinals defense steps up big in win

The Arizona Cardinals defense stepped up big defensively in their win Sunday over the New York Jets.

If you watched or listened to the Arizona Cardinals win against the New York Jets, the clear upside was that the defense returned to form upon the return of safety Budda Baker. The clear downside, however, is the Chandler Jones injury.

With the Cards down their top two pass rushers in Jones and Devon Kennard, the old dark cloud hovering over this hard-luck franchise reared its ugly head once more. At least until linebacker Dennis Gardeck redefined the phrase ‘next-man-up.’

Gardeck recorded two sacks on the day and could solidify himself as a viable replacement for Jones if the latter misses an extended period of time with a presumed biceps injury. But Gardeck wasn’t the only Cardinal that stood out.

Welcome back, Budda Baker. In his first game back from a UCL injury that sidelined him in last week’s blowout against the Carolina Panthers, Baker recorded 8 tackles, 2 assists, 1 sack, and 1 tackle for a loss. The Cardinals defense looked like the improved unit the Red Sea thought they had in weeks one through three with Baker’s return.

That said, the defensive unit once again looked like the league’s best third-down defense, holding the Jets offense to just 30 percent in third-down conversions. Including three stops on third and two or less. The Cardinals also stopped the Jets on a major fourth and one stand.

Overall, the Jets put together just one solid drive all afternoon, bringing the score to 17-10 in the third quarter before the Kyler Murray and the Cardinals offense pulled away from the Jets. And yes, we can scoff at this stellar defensive performance and say it’s the Jets. A team starting its backup quarterback while its featured running back saw his first full game of action in the 2020 season.

But in the NFL, a win is a win. And a solid defensive performance is a solid defensive performance. Every player in that New York Jets locker room is in the NFL because they’re among the best in the world at what they do. And for that, commend the Cardinals defense for putting on a clinic against the Jets. Statement made. Now it’s on to Dallas.