Arizona Cardinals need to focus on building a run defense this offseason

The run defense for the Arizona Cardinals needs to vastly improve this offseason.

New York Jets v Miami Dolphins
New York Jets v Miami Dolphins / Brandon Sloter/GettyImages
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Going into the 2023 season, the Arizona Cardinals were expected to be arguably the worst team in the NFL by the time the regular season would end. Rookie head coach Jonathan Gannon was a questionable hire to take over for Kliff Kingsbury and quarterback Kyler Murray was out of the first half of the season after tearing his ACL in 2022. On paper, the Cardinals had no fire power in their division, let alone the NFC. Even though the Cardinals finished their season with 4-13, 3 of their wins were against teams that made the playoffs (Dallas Cowboys, Pittsburgh Steelers, and Philadelphia Eagles). 

While the Arizona offense improved with Murray’s return (averaging 22 points a game), it was the Cardinals’ defense that was liable for a majority of their losses, specifically their run defense. Giving up 143 yards per game on the ground is not going to make life easier for teams.

The Cardinals have a good amount of work to do this offseason through free agency and the draft. However, the run defense needs to be near the top of their list to address. In their 17 games last season, the Cardinals had just three games where they did not give up 110+ rushing yards. In 2 of their last 6 games, the Cardinals gave up over 200 rushing yards to both the Los Angeles Rams and Chicago Bears, in which they lost both games at a combined score of 64-30.

Some of the pending free agents that are set to hit the free agent market include Christian Wilkins, Jaguars' Josh Allen, Leonard Williams and D.J. Reader. As a defensive coach, Gannon will need to work with the front office in bringing in defensive help and getting the run-stopping ability. While they could look towards the draft, which they should anyways, the Cardinals may want to prioritize bringing in veteran help to build the defensive line.