Defensive shortcomings could crush Arizona Cardinals playoff chances

(Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images)
(Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images) /

Weaknesses on defense could have a devastating effect on the Arizona Cardinals’ playoff aspirations for the upcoming season.

For the better part of the offseason, the Arizona Cardinals front office refused to address the squad’s weaknesses on the defensive side of the ball.

From the looks of things, the Cards offense will need to score a ton of points for the team to have any chance of making the playoffs. General manager Steve Keim is basically forcing the Arizona coaching staff to roll with a number of his draft choices which may never pan out.

Defensive coordinator Vance Joseph will preside over a unit that has a weakness at every level. Reinforcements could’ve been acquired, but Keim sat on his hands while a number of talented free-agent defenders found homes with other clubs.

Arizona Cardinals have holes on defense that the front office ignored.

Any successful defense has talent on the front line, and veterans like J.J. Watt and Zach Allen are great to have around. However, on the negative side, the combination of Leki Fotu and Rashard Lawrence at the Cardinals nose tackle position leaves a lot to be desired.

At linebacker, the Redbirds can brag about having Markus Golden and Isaiah Simmons in the starting lineup. However, 23-year-old Zaven Collins has done very little to justify the first-round selection that Keim used on him during the 2021 draft.

The edge-rushing post across from Golden, the spot that the great Chandler Jones used to occupy, could also be a huge problem for the Cards.

The biggest potential issue could be at cornerback, where Arizona currently has Byron Murphy Jr. and a whole lot of question marks. Second-year pro Marco Wilson, a starter in 2021, has resembled a cover guy who should be nothing more than a backup this coming fall.

Despite the fact that the regular season is just three weeks away, there are still free agents on the open market who could help the Cardinals defense. At this point of the offseason, the $17 million-plus that the organization has in salary-cap space could come in quite handy.

Either Ndamukong Suh or Linval Joseph would be an upgrade over the Fotu-Lawrence duo that the Cards are preparing to go with. Experienced corners such as Joe Haden, Chris Harris Jr., Janoris Jenkins, Kevin King or Xavier Rhodes would all be a much better option than the struggling Wilson at the current time.

Over the past couple of years, Arizona has fielded a defense that could hold up against the league’s most explosive scoring attacks. It would be wrong for the “Red Sea” to expect more of the same in 2022.

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