Will The Arizona Cardinals Defense Improve in 2022?
Will the Arizona Cardinals defense improve after ranking among the NFL’s worst units and can they ride the momentum of their exciting win in Week 2?
Yes, the Arizona Cardinals overcame a 23-7 deficit in the 4th quarter to secure their 1st win of the season. Yes, Kyler Murray did show up in the end as he lead his team to victory. And yes, the defense finally took a stand and held their ground in the key moments of that game leading up to the win.
But even though the Cardinals were able to pull off the upset on the road, there are still many concerns that needs to be addressed, especially on the defensive side of the ball. After their Week 1 matchup against the Chiefs, the Cardinals defense gave up 10 catches, 132 yards and 2 TD’s to the Chiefs TE’s which was the most any team allowed to TE’s on Week 1.
The Cardinals fared a little better in their Week 2 battle against the Raiders as they held TE’s Darren Waller and Foster Moreau to a combined 9 catches, 80 yards and 1 TD but they will have to do a better job of covering tight ends. Budda Baker, who is a seek and destroy type of safety, has to help Isaiah Simmons and Zaven Collins in coverage and allow his physical presence to be felt.
That is just one area of concern for Vance Joseph and the Cardinals defense as they are allowing the most points per game in the league at 33.5. The Cardinals defense have also allowed 812 total yards of offense which puts them at 28th in the NFL.
Despite the strong stand, the Arizona Cardinals defense must improve
They are also 28th in red zone success rate as opponents are having success against them at a rate of 80% inside the 20-yard line. The Cardinals defense has also allowed the most TD’s inside the red zone with a total of eight.
The Cardinals will have to be stout upfront when they face off against the Rams in Week 3 as JJ Watt will have to generate pressure from the interior against their physical offensive line. The secondary must get better as well as they are one of the worst units by the numbers in the NFL.
The Cardinals are 31st in passing yards allowed per game allowing 302 per contest, rank 29th in yards per play and have surrendered the most TD’s in the NFL. This unit has to be prepared to try and neutralize red hot WR Cooper Kupp.
Cardinals must stop Cooper Kupp in Week 3
The reigning Super Bowl MVP and last season’s triple crown winner leading the league in receptions, yards and TD’s and is currently leading the NFL in catches, targets, is 4th in yards as he already has 3 TD’s on the year. One bright spot for the Cardinals defense was Byron Murphy Jr. who scored the game winning touchdown last week after a scoop and score in overtime against the Raiders.
The 4th year defensive back coming off a breakout season in which he had a career high 4 interceptions, is one of the most underrated in the NFL. Murphy Jr. has good recovery speed and is technically sound as he did an excellent job matching up against All-Pro WR Davante Adams. He played solid and was good in coverage despite giving up a touchdown as Murphy Jr. held him to just two catches with 12 yards.
Sacks and pass rush still a concern…
Another concern that Joseph has to address is the lack of interceptions and sacks. In their 1st two games the Cardinals couldn’t generate any pressure on the quarterbacks only recording 1 sack and no interceptions.
Joseph must find a way for his pass rushers to disrupt opposing QB’s in order to give the struggling secondary a chance. They will face off against elite QB’s who will torch them if they allow them to sit in the pocket so Vance will have to find a solution and maybe adjust and mix things up in order to get the results they desire.
What we will find out in the next couple of weeks is if Vance can adjust his scheme in order for the defense to be successful and improve (especially against the pass) and also develop some type of identity. Also, we should look out for one of the second and third-year players emerge as a leader both on and off the field as well as in the locker room as the opportunity exists for one of the younger players to stand out.
Hopefully, Joseph’s defense can ride the momentum of the win against the Raiders and carry that into Week 3 and beyond because they will need all of the energy they can muster as the Arizona Cardinals prepare to face a potent LA Rams offense.