The retirement of Malcolm Butler may not have the catastrophic effect on the Arizona Cardinals that many believed it would.
Just over a couple of weeks ago, many NFL observers were predicting doom for the Arizona Cardinals secondary.
The surprising retirement of number-one cover guy Malcolm Butler put a damper on some of the optimism that was surrounding the Cards. After all, the 31-year old free agent was brought in to help offset the loss of eight-time Pro Bowler Patrick Peterson. How could Arizona’s cornerback group expect to excel without the presence of the talented and experienced Butler?
That question was answered quite nicely on opening day during the Cardinals’ 38-13 blowout of the Tennessee Titans. The squad’s threesome at corner, Byron Murphy, Robert Alford and rookie Marco Wilson, more than held their own against a vaunted pair of wide receivers . Many felt that the Redbirds’ coverage unit would struggle mightily versus the Titans’ A.J. Brown and Julio Jones, but that simply wasn’t the case.
Arizona Cardinals put clamps on opponent’s vaunted wideouts in week one
Brown, a second-round draft pick back in 2019, has posted two consecutive 1000-yard plus campaigns for Tennessee. The 6’0, 226 pounder hauled in just four passes for 49 yards in the matchup with the Cards, a stat line that fell short of what many were predicting for the 24-year old. Brown did register a third-quarter touchdown during the clash, but the score did little to affect the outcome of the contest.
Jones, a seven-time Pro Bowler who was acquired from the Atlanta Falcons back in June, was pretty much a non-factor in his first appearance with Tennessee. The 32-year old totaled three receptions for a measly 29 yards, and was handed a costly 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty in the first quarter.
Murphy was absolutely fantastic against Tennessee. The 23-year old batted away three of quarterback Ryan Tannehill’s pass attempts, and was credited with four solo tackles as well. Alford and Wilson chipped in three solo tackles apiece.
Will that type of success continue for Arizona’s cover guys in the coming weeks and months? The Cardinals and “The Red Sea” can only hope that it will.