The Arizona Cardinals pass rush will be the top unit to watch vs. the Cowboys

The Arizona Cardinals, for all their shortcomings, have an excellent pass rush that has shown up throughout the first two weeks of the season.
New York Giants v Arizona Cardinals
New York Giants v Arizona Cardinals / Norm Hall/GettyImages

The Arizona Cardinals are tied with the Pittsburgh Steelers for third in the NFL in sacks, behind only the Dallas Cowboys and the Washington Commanders. Unlike Pittsburgh, Dallas, and Washington, however, the Cards blitz fewer than 20% of the time per dropback, so it’s quite amazing to see what the EDGE rushers have done in head coach Jonathan Gannon’s system.

This week, the Cards play those Cowboys and given how stout the latter’s defense has been, it’s no secret that Arizona must keep Dallas’ offense in check. To do this, they must play to their strengths and get to Prescott early and often, before he can make the Redbirds depleted secondary pay. 

Arizona Cardinals EDGE rushers must keep playing their game

The Cardinals EDGE rushers have been magnificent so far in 2023, combining for five sacks while others on the team have gotten the other four. However, they must get more consistent in the grand scheme of things. 

PFF, for example, only has the Cardinals pass rush graded at 65.4, which ranks 21st in the NFL. This implies that, for all the big plays the unit has made, they also don’t get to the quarterback consistently enough. 

Some of this undoubtedly has to do with the defensive scheme Jonathan Gannon and coordinator Nick Rallis have implemented. Therefore, it would be refreshing if the Cardinals blitzed more per dropback, as they rank 28th percentage-wise per Pro-Football-Reference. 

If the Cards can increase that number to a degree, there’s a chance they can get to Prescott more and force him into making mistakes with the ball. That’s if they can get past a pair of talented tackles who have more than held their own, but a higher rate of trying to wreak havoc in the backfield will show us that this team is “playing to win” as opposed to playing “not to lose.” 


(Statistics provided by Pro-Football-Reference, grades provided by PFF [subscription])