Under the bright lights in Arlington, safety Budda Baker shows the rest of the world he’s a force to be reckoned with.
Prior to Monday night’s game against the Dallas Cowboys, if you asked who the best safeties are in the NFL are you probably wouldn’t have heard the name “Budda Baker” that often. Aside from Cardinal fans and the non-casual fan, it’s not hard to figure out as to why. The Cardinals don’t play many primetime games.
That changed Monday, as Baker exploded onto the national scene with a performance all too familiar for Cardinal fans. The newly named captain ended his night with 7 tackles, 1 sack, a forced fumble and his first career interception. The latter, the icing on the cake for his performance and a dagger for a depleted Cowboys team looking to score late. The efforts earned him NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors.
So far this season, Baker has cooked up quite the stat line in 2020, despite missing one game due to a thumb injury. He’s racked up 45 total tackles, 3 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, 3 QB hits, 3 passes defended and one interception. He was also named a team captain with Chandler Jones going on injured reserve. And it’s well deserved, as the team seems to play much better with him on the field.
Budda and Co. have certainly made significant strides under second year defensive coordinator Vance Joseph. Through six games, they currently rank 13th overall in total defense, giving up 346.2 yards per game. The best news, however, they rank 2nd overall in scoring defense, going up only 18.7 points per game. They’ve also accumulated 17 sacks and 7 turnovers.
The defensive group has gelled, despite losing one of its best players in edge rusher Chandler Jones. But so far, Budda Baker is the heart, soul and strength of this team. By season’s end, he’ll not only be up for Defensive Player of the Year, but possibly MVP of the league. Something that has not been achieved by a defensive player since Lawrence Taylor in 1986.