When you give up 35 points to your opponent, it means your defense did not have a good outing. This was especially true thanks to the fact San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy compiled 283 passing yards and a 134.6 quarterback rating, and running back Christian McCaffrey logged 106 rushing yards and 5.3 yards per carry. But if there was a bright spot on the Arizona Cardinals defense, it belonged to Dennis Gardeck.
The sixth-year EDGE rusher entered the game with a PFF Grade of 87.1, which ranked eighth out of 107 qualified players. He also had seven combined tackles, (six solo), one forced fumble, eight stops, three sacks, and five total pressures through the season’s first three weeks.
Gardeck added to those totals in today’s loss to the 49ers, compiling four total tackles, a sack, a tackle behind the line, and a quarterback hit. With four sacks now in four weeks, Gardeck is on pace to snag 17 on the year if he keeps up with this consistency.
Arizona Cardinals EDGE rusher has risen from adversity
Over the previous two seasons, Gardeck put up pedestrian numbers, at best. He logged just 54 combined tackles, one sack, three tackles for loss, and nine quarterback hits. Most of his snaps also came on special teams, so Gardeck was nonexistent on the Cardinals struggling defenses in 2021 and 2022.
So far, 2023 has been a career renaissance for Gardeck, and with an underachieving Cincinnati Bengals team on the agenda next week, the Arizona Cardinals EDGE rusher may get a few more opportunities to wreak havoc in the backfield.
Even if Kyzir White is the defense’s centerpiece, don’t underestimate the value Gardeck has to this football team. He has been pristine playing for a unit that many fans thought didn’t have an impact player lining up at EDGE.
(Statistics and grade provided by Pro-Football-Reference, PFF [subscription], and ESPN.com)