When Nick Rallis was hired to run the Arizona Cardinals defense back in February, the up and coming assistant was well aware that there would be some growing pains. First-year general manager Monti Ossenfort was basically gutting the team, and the defensive side of the ball would be greatly affected. To his credit, Rallis has extracted all that he can out of the one of the NFL's most undermanned units.
Thankfully, there's a light at the end of the tunnel. The Cardinals will have a ton of salary-cap space to work in 2024, meaning reinforcements will be added. It will be exciting to see what Rallis can do with the infusion of talent that will surely be coming his way when the offseason arrives.
The 2023 campaign, for all intents and purposes, has been a season-long audition for a high percentage of the roster. Not everyone has proven to Ossenfort and head coach Jonathan Gannon that they're worth holding onto. The following are four members of the Redbirds defense who could be playing elsewhere next season.
Zaven Collins - Outside Linebacker
Just last year, former first-round draft pick Zaven Collins took a promising step. Following an extremely disappointing rookie campaign in 2021, the inside linebacker totaled 100 tackles, six passes defensed, two sacks and a pick-six during his 16 starts in 2022. The Arizona franchise was thrilled with the youngster's progress, and Collins was totally expected to take an even bigger jump under Rallis' guidance.
Unfortunately, Collins has taken a huge leap backwards. Granted, the 6 foot 4, 260 pounder has been forced to learn a brand-new position under the first-year coaching staff. Collins has been transformed into an edge rusher, and the results have been less than impressive.
In 14 starts, Collins has been credited with 35 tackles, 3.5 sacks, and six quarterback hits. It would be safe to say that the Cards were expecting more. Collins is looking more and more like a product of the Steve Keim era who has failed to fit in with what the new regime wants to accomplish in the desert.