The Arizona Cardinals defense was one of the league’s best last season but 2016’s version has been mediocre at best thus far
On paper at least, the defense of the Arizona Cardinals appears to be a talented bunch. On the field, the unit is not playing up to par.
They’ve brought back most of the group that ranked 5th in the NFL last season. Problem is, players that played very well last year have yet to show up for the three games played so far.
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Safety turned linebacker Deone Bucannon has 15 tackles, a decent number it would seem. It’s a hollow number though, not any game-changing plays. It’s possible he may not be big enough to play the position effectively going forward.
Safety Tyrann Mathieu has made a miraculous recovery from ACL surgery. Like Bucannon, he also has made an adequate number of stops, 13 solos to be exact.
He had a chance to possibly turn last weekend’s loss to the Buffalo Bills around. He knocked a ball out of quarterback Tyrod Taylor’s hand but proceeded to boot the fumble out of bounds. Buffalo retained possession and any hope of a Cards rally pretty much ended.
There were many questions surrounding cornerback Justin Bethel this past offseason. Recovering from foot surgery, Bethel has made little impact. The emergence of Marcus Cooper will most likely keep Bethel’s contributions to a minimum.
Defensive tackle Corey Peters is another Cardinal recovering from surgery. Nonetheless, he’s gonna have to do better than the four tackles he has amassed in the three games. 2nd-year backup Rodney Gunter played well in Peters’ absence last season and is waiting in the wings.
Outside linebacker Alex Okafor is playing through a biceps iniury and has made just two tackles in a backup role. His playing time has been affected big-time by the Chandler Jones acquisition.
There’s alot of football yet to be played so there’s plenty of time for improvement. Arizona has a much better defense then the one they’ve shown so far. Underachievers need to step up before losses start to stack and the season spirals downward.