Arizona Cardinals must give rookie pass-rushers more playing time
By Jim Koch
Cameron Thomas and Myjai Sanders must have their playing time increased to receive a true evaluation from the Arizona Cardinals.
For all intents and purposes, the current NFL campaign has come to an end for the Arizona Cardinals. Making the postseason is not impossible, but this year’s version of the Redbirds hardly resembles a playoff team.
What the Cards should be doing over the final five weeks is evaluating talent. The young players, in particular, should be receiving a long, hard look from head coach Kliff Kingsbury and his band of assistants.
Arizona entered the 2022 offseason in desperate need of some pass-rushing help. When last April’s draft rolled around, general manager Steve Keim addressed that issue with a pair of third-round picks. Cameron Thomas and Myjai Sanders came aboard, but the youngsters’ rookie status has likely limited their playing time.
Things need to change over the final month of the season. The Cardinals need to find out what they have with Thomas and Sanders. Unfortunately, it would have to be at the expense of a couple of the franchise’s veterans.
Arizona Cardinals got little out of Markus Golden and Dennis Gardeck
It’s obvious that outside linebacker Markus Golden has entered the twilight of his career. The Cards were probably encouraged by the 11 quarterback sacks Golden registered in 2021, but the dropoff in production has been startling. The 31-year-old has played in all 12 games this fall, but has just 1.5 sacks to show for it.
Dennis Gardeck is another Arizona edge-rusher that has struggled in ’22. The 28-year-old’s playing time diminished significantly when it became apparent that the organization had placed way too much on the special-team demon’s plate. In nine appearances this year, Gardeck has tallied just 20 tackles and one measly sack for the “Big Red” defense.
Despite a miniscule amount of defensive snaps this season, both Thomas and Sanders have added two sacks apiece to their professional resumes. With more opportunities, it’s a given that the young bucks would run circles around Golden and Gardeck in the pass-rushing department.
A chance for Thomas and Sanders to show what they can do in a more significant role could now be upon us. The coaching staff needs to realize that the Cards are going nowhere. Golden and Gardeck need to head to the bench and allow the squad’s up and coming edge-rushers to give the organization a look into the future.
(Statistics provided by Pro Football Reference)
Want your voice heard? Join the Raising Zona team!