Arizona Cardinals secondary has become a juggernaut
By Jim Koch/FanSided via Raising Zona
Arizona Cardinals general manager Steve Keim has put together an exciting group of talented defensive backs
The cornerback position was a glaring weakness for the Arizona Cardinals heading into the 2016 offseason. The previous season’s playoffs exposed Justin Bethel as an unworthy starter. Veteran Jerraud Powers’ play wasn’t up to par either, and he was allowed to depart for the Baltimore Ravens.
General manager Steve Keim needed to find another corner to pair with Patrick Peterson. The search would not prove to be easy.
The team tried to sell 3rd-round draft pick Brandon Williams as a solution to the problem. He wasn’t. Williams was benched after a rough preseason and then a beat-down on opening night.
Little-known Marcus Cooper was traded for right before the season began. The move has been brilliant. He leads the squad with three picks (including a pick-six) and has tallied 21 tackles.
Keim made another under-the-radar acquisition in mid-September. 6’2″ cornerback Tharold Simon arrived from the division-rival Seattle Seahawks. Simon got his first extended action of the season against the New York Jets and could assume a big role going forward.
Safety D.J.Swearinger is another excellent find. He’s been a solid contributor and is one of the NFL’s fiercest hitters. He played well against the Jets, intercepting a Ryan Fitzpatrick pass and laying a debilitating hit on Charone Peake.
The success in acquiring defensive backs stretches back to May of 2013. That’s when undrafted safety Tony Jefferson was signed. He currently leads the club in tackles and has transformed into a fiery leader.
Tyrann Mathieu is one of the organization’s all-time best 3rd-round draft picks. He has been slow to recover from last season’s ACL injury though. The Arizona secondary will reach an even higher level if Mathieu can get back to being the “Honey Badger “.
Free agent safety Tyvon Branch was playing well until he landed on injured reserve. He was certainly gonna be a huge part of the team for the remainder of the season.
The secondary has been a dominating force the last two games, although the competition hasn’t been great. Nevertheless, the sky’s the limit for the group that Keim has built.