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Blogs

About the pass rush

Posted by Darren Urban on February 4, 2010 – 11:30 am

When you talk about the Cards’ pass rush, you can’t get away from the fact the Cards were very successful this season piling up sacks. They finished with 43, sixth in the NFL and easily the most the team has had since moving to Arizona. In fact, it was the third-most in franchise history, behind the 1984 (55) and 1983 (59) defenses.

The Cards had another five sacks in the Wild Card win over Green Bay as well. But that game was a microcosm of the way the pass rush operated. All five sacks — two by Bertrand Berry and one each by Chike Okeafor, Darnell Dockett and Michael Adams — came because Aaron Rodgers couldn’t make the throw on his initial read. Adams’ sack, which led to the fumble that ended overtime, came after Karlos Dansby got his hands in Rodgers’ passing lane, forcing Rodgers to wait. The other four all came after Rodgers was flushed from the pocket. There is a bit of irony that they could be considered “coverage” sacks, given the way the Packers were able to pass on the secondary.

But flashing forward, that’s what the Cards are searching to improve — they’d love to find an edge rusher who can get a sack because he quickly whips his man and the quarterback simply doesn’t have time to react. That’s what Berry was in 2004 when he went to the Pro Bowl, and that’s why the Cards are giving a shot to CFL star Stevie Baggs. The DeMarcus Wares and Elvis Dumervils don’t grow on trees of course, so it isn’t as simple as “just go get one.”

Dockett obviously can get to the QB from inside, and I think Calais Campbell should evolve into a double-digit sack guy. But in the 3-4 alignment, the Cards need speed and youth outside. Will Davis looked decent as a rookie before getting hurt. We’ll see on Cody Brown; he’s going to go through a rookie year all over again after getting injured in the preseason. The Cards think Mark Washington looks the part and could be a find after getting him on their practice squad. Baggs isn’t young (he’s 28) but maybe he has turned the corner in the CFL.

If one of those guys — plus whomever the Cards draft at the spot, and they will take a pass rusher, I’d think — pans out, the Cards’ pass rush could be formidable, given what they already showed they can do.


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Posted in Blog | 64 Comments »


64 Responses to “About the pass rush”

  1. By Logan Cooper on Feb 4, 2010 | Reply

    Please give me some love!! I wrote a comment a couple weeks ago that mirrored this exact post!!!!
    Love the post darren and I couldn’t agree more.

  2. By darrenurban on Feb 4, 2010 | Reply

    Logan –

    Consider yourself loved. :)

    Logan said on this post that “I honestly don’t think our secondary is that bad. Most of our sacks came from great coverage more than quick pass rushers. it wasn’t until matt ware got hurt that things started breaking down and coverage wasn’t as good. We need two good outside linebacker pass rushers and a big upgrade at nose tackle this offseason and I think we will be perfectly fine.”

  3. By darrenurban on Feb 4, 2010 | Reply

    But don’t everyone start thinking I’m gonna re-post all your comments … ;)

  4. By Matt on Feb 4, 2010 | Reply

    Another way to help the pass rush would be to either get Ware back or to get another backup safety so we can blitz Wilson more.

  5. By Dave on Feb 4, 2010 | Reply

    I still have high hopes for Rashad Johnson. Safety is a hard position to learn in the NFL….look how long it took for Rolle to catch on, and he’d been playing CB already before he went to safety.

    I look for Rashad to at least begin to break out in 2010 and make some good plays…hopefully getting some int’s….

  6. By Dave on Feb 4, 2010 | Reply

    Logan?
    Maybe our secondary isn’t that bad, but I still think for the $$$ McFadden should have got a handful of int’s. ZERO? pffffft! **waves goodbye**

  7. By Eric on Feb 4, 2010 | Reply

    Darren-

    I’ve been told that players who haven’t already had NFL contracts don’t count towards the goofy 2010 free agent rules. The main idea of the rules as they pertain to us is that we can only sign one FA if he’s at or above $5 million per season (more or less) and then we can only sign free agents after than if we lose free agents. Even then, it’s a one-for-one deal and the player we sign has to have a similar contract to the one we lose.

    So, Baggs doesn’t count toward this limit since he’s never had an NFL deal? And, if so, do practice squad players count as having an NFL contract? Specifically, Tyler Palko, because I think he’d be a good #3 behind Leinart and whoever we end up with at #2 (hopefully a veteran whose better than BSP). Also, are there any loopholes that open up due to retirements?

  8. By John on Feb 4, 2010 | Reply

    Interesting that everyone likes our secondary since 3 of the 4 starters were picked for the probowl ( Rolle added because of sharper in SB). Where we struggle is bringing in our nickel and dime packages. Of course I’ll keep preaching a “real” passrusher (not sold on a 28yr old Canadian player with 0 sacks in the NFL) is the number one priority. But we must add at both corner and safety in this draft.
    Mcfadden signed a 2 year deal if I’m not mistaken. This makes corner priority number 2.
    Darren, does anyone in the cards building have faith Toler could take over at CB ? Surely no one believes in Adams or Brown (hopefully both will be upgraded).

  9. By Kenny on Feb 4, 2010 | Reply

    Dave,

    I tend to give McFadden more credit than most on these posts. I like his physicality and I think he’s a decent cover guy. But jeez, you’re right. At least one pick would have been nice. There’s gotta be something better out there.

  10. By Mike on Feb 4, 2010 | Reply

    Hey Darren,
    Bit off subject but not at the same time…. I know Wilson hit the 20-20 club which not many players are in. How high does that go? Did those other players hit a 25-25 or a 30-30? Is there another record he can go for now? Not that anything more would be overlooked anyway.
    Thanks

  11. By Joe-B on Feb 4, 2010 | Reply

    I noticed that too, it seemed like the defense got worse after Ware went down. I hope he can stay for next season.

  12. By Ottis Anderson Fan on Feb 4, 2010 | Reply

    Very nice summary Darren.

    With Dockett and Campbell set as starters, and the NT position not really a pass rushing position, is it fair to say that the Cardinals are more in need of a pass rushing LB than a natural pass rushing DE working on the edge? I’m aware that many college DEs are converted to LBs, but I’m more curious about where another full-time pass rushing DE (lineman), playing in the 3-point stance, would fit into the 3-4 scheme given the personnel we already have on the line.

  13. By darrenurban on Feb 4, 2010 | Reply

    Eric –

    No, Baggs won’t count. I believe it is only players who had a contract in 2009 and then just had them expire, not if they were cut or were on the street. I’m not sure about Palko; I thought he ended the season on the Steelers’ active roster. As for loopholes for retirements, no, those guys retiring don’t suddenly open up an FA spot the Cards can fill, at least not in the “rule of 8″ scenario.

  14. By darrenurban on Feb 4, 2010 | Reply

    John –

    I believe Toler will have a chance to supplant McFadden as a starter next season.

  15. By Ottis Anderson Fan on Feb 4, 2010 | Reply

    Darren,

    From a pure economics standpoint (i.e. salary cap hit), how much would it cost the Cards if they cut McFadden to free up a roster space for someone they believe is better, or has more of an upside? I don’t think that’s going to happen, especially if McFadden is due $5 million in 2010 (but I may be mistaken on that assumption).

    You reported in 2009 (March 8) that, “So Sunday, a few days after the team re-signed the most important free agent from its own roster in quarterback Kurt Warner, the team landed McFadden when the former Steeler agreed to a two-year contract worth $10 million. McFadden will receive $5 million in the first year of the deal, including a $3.75 million salary.”

  16. By darrenurban on Feb 4, 2010 | Reply

    Mike –

    Here is the list (sacks-INT)

    DB Ronde Barber 25-37
    S LeRoy Butler 20.5-38
    S Brian Dawkins 21-36
    LB Donnie Edwards 23.5-28
    S Rodney Harrison 30.5-34
    LB Seth Joyner 52-24
    LB Ray Lewis 36.5-28
    LB Wilber Marshall 45-23
    LB William Thomas 37-27

  17. By darrenurban on Feb 4, 2010 | Reply

    Ottis –

    I guess I should’ve been specific. Yes, it’d be a pass-rushing OLB for the 3-4. Not a down lineman.

  18. By darrenurban on Feb 4, 2010 | Reply

    Ottis –

    If there is no cap, there will be no cap hit. And it wouldn’t have mattered anyway, because McFadden didn’t get an SB. According to NFLPA records, he got a $3.75 M salary, a $250,000 workout bonus and a $1M roster bonus. This year, he gets a $250,000 workout bonus and a $4.75M salary. If they release him, he’d get none of that and there’d be no aftereffect.

  19. By nor cal cards fan on Feb 4, 2010 | Reply

    “I believe Toler will have a chance to supplant McFadden as a starter next season.” You just made my day, thanks.

  20. By Patrick on Feb 4, 2010 | Reply

    Logan: you need to work a deal wih DU.

  21. By Ottis Anderson Fan on Feb 4, 2010 | Reply

    Thanks Darren and thanks to Rod Graves for not giving McFadden a signing bonus! Hopefully Toler can take the job. Can’t see the Cards paying $5 million to McFadden to be a backup though. B-Mac better get his head on a swivel come training camp.

  22. By Jesse Robles on Feb 4, 2010 | Reply

    Don’t cry Logan, happens all the time in this world. Just keep posting.

  23. By Cameron on Feb 4, 2010 | Reply

    I am from Canada and have seen him play he is excellent on the line. That being said he also had help from John Chick (now with the colts) on the other side. It will also be interesting to see him play as a linebacker I think the cards need to upgrade on their secondary backups. Adams and Brown aren’t gonna cut it. Ware has been good when he has played. They also need a new NT as Robinson is getting old. Darren do you think they will keep Watson or Branch could step in or do you think they would have to get someone else.

  24. By darrenurban on Feb 4, 2010 | Reply

    Cameron –

    I think the Cards wouldn’t mind upgrading at NT but that doesn’t mean there will be someone available to fit the bill.

  25. By Kent on Feb 4, 2010 | Reply

    I am skeptical on this. He had one season of production in 4 CFL seasons. He had 11 sacks. Cam Wake on the other hand piled up 16 and 23 sacks in consecutive seasons before Miami signed him.

    On pass rushers. My sleeper favorite for this draft is a guy out of Stillman college. Junior Galette. Athletic with moves.

    Showcase his abilities quite well I think.

  26. By Ross on Feb 4, 2010 | Reply

    Darren,

    I noticed Kurt is gone from the banner and replaced with Beanie. No love for Timmy??? Put the two headed monster up there!

  27. By cardinalconvert on Feb 4, 2010 | Reply

    If our defense was ok last year, why did we do so bad in the playoffs? Darren, don’t you think we have a big problem somewhere and it is not pass rush?

  28. By Chuck Anderson on Feb 4, 2010 | Reply

    MORE DEPTH IN THE SECONDARY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Base coverage does well.DRC,A-Rolle,Wilson do well.Its when we go to a Nickel,Dime,Quarter package or 2 minute defence we get in trouble with mismatches!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  29. By Don on Feb 4, 2010 | Reply

    Darren,

    Have you heard about any interest in Porter from the Dolphins? I heard on ESPN that he wants out of Miami. I realize he is 32 which means he isn’t a long term solution but he can still play. And if we lose Okeafor and Dansby, along with Berry, maybe a veteran LB wouldn’t be such a bad thing. Not to mention players with chips on their shoulders from previous teams always seem to perform better.

  30. By Logan Cooper on Feb 4, 2010 | Reply

    Patrick-
    Where do you think Darren gets all of his insider information :)

    Darren is gonna let me write an article pretty soon….right Darren:)

    I will even do it pro bono.

  31. By Dan on Feb 5, 2010 | Reply

    Draft Greg Hardy.

  32. By Dan on Feb 5, 2010 | Reply

    Again, just draft Greg Hardy and solve the problem, it really is that simple.

  33. By Bryce McGuffin on Feb 5, 2010 | Reply

    THE CARDINALS NEED TO GET SOME NEW LINEBACKERS FOR THE 2010 SEASON
    (THEY ARE TOO OLD AND SLOW) PLEASE DO SOMETHING ABOUT THIS CARDINALS… YOU REALLY NEED TO!

  34. By Wampag on Feb 5, 2010 | Reply

    Hey D

    what about Thomas from the Pats

  35. By darrenurban on Feb 5, 2010 | Reply

    cardinalconvert –

    I think it was a combination of things: poor play, injuries, and a pass rush that started slipping.

  36. By darrenurban on Feb 5, 2010 | Reply

    Don –

    Right now, Porter is on a roster so the Cards aren’t going to talk about if there is interest or not. They won’t trade for him. He’d have to be released and then we’d have to see what kind of money he wants.

  37. By darrenurban on Feb 5, 2010 | Reply

    Wampag –

    Always a possibility if released, but, like Porter, he seems to be having issues as he gets older with coaches. I’m not sure he’d be great in the locker room.

  38. By thereisonly1 on Feb 5, 2010 | Reply

    rashad johnson is going to be a star in this league. mark my words.
    and what the hell were we thinking with mcfadden? i understand he gets picked on a lot because DRC is on the other end of the field, but sometimes he looks like a little kid out there.

  39. By Jerry on Feb 5, 2010 | Reply

    I love this! Bring in some youth at an area where we have quite a bit of skill at! Can’t wait to see how this benefits us.

    Darren, just wanted to clear up from my post on Leinart, I did not meran he does not have the passion for a championship, I was not trying to deny Matt on that, I was just trying to show what type of QB I feel the Cards need. I’m sorry if that was taken out of context. Do the Cards have any interest in picking up LaDanian Tomlinson after today’s announcement of him about to be released by SD? Not that I think we NEED him but it could create a good trade with maybe Timmy Hightower. Just wondering since LT does have a great conversion rate for rushing TD’s. He could also bring that veteran status to really help Chris “Beanie” Wells develop into the elite back we all know he should become.

  40. By darrenurban on Feb 5, 2010 | Reply

    Jerry –

    LT has been a great player. But he is on the downside and there is no way the Cards would swap Hightower for LT. Hightower’s a better football player right now, especially on a cost-benefit analysis.

  41. By John on Feb 5, 2010 | Reply

    Dan, Greg Hardy could be the steal of the draft, (as I believe he may fall all the way to the third round) The talent is there but alot of issues and inconsistant play. I like Jerry Hughes (TCU) or Brandon Graham (mich) as our pick.

    But Darren, could our passrush problems be under our nose ? Dansby played only one year at OLB in a hybrid 3-4. He put up 8 sacks. But because he is so good in coverage, he was moved inside. Contracts aside, could Dansby be one of the answers on the outside ? With several good pass defending ILB’s available in draft, could or would they look at that ? (assuming he is signed)

  42. By darrenurban on Feb 5, 2010 | Reply

    John –

    The coaching staff has been pretty adamant since coming in that Dansby, in the 3-4, is an inside guy. I don’t see him as a pure pass rusher anyway.

  43. By ben on Feb 5, 2010 | Reply

    Darren,

    This may be off-topic but I was wondering if you have seen Cody Brown this season or part of the off-season? Has he been working out? How is his injury? It would be nice to hear from our second round pick from last year. With all the talk about needing pass rushers and OLB’s it sure would be nice if this kid can come into camp hungry. From what I saw from pre-season last year he looked a little lost. Has he been studying film? Partying? Working hard? Any update on his progress?

    P.S. You have the best job in the world, I am jealous, lol.

  44. By darrenurban on Feb 5, 2010 | Reply

    Ben –

    I have barely seen any players since the end of the season. This is some of their true down time. I expect players to start filtering back on their own later this month.

  45. By ben on Feb 5, 2010 | Reply

    Darren,

    I guess my question was more:

    When was the last time you saw Cody Brown? Has he been with the team over the course of the year? Was he working with a personal trainer the entire season? What has he been up to?

  46. By darrenurban on Feb 5, 2010 | Reply

    Ben –

    Cody was showing up periodically during the season, and I’d see him in the locker room talking with Will Davis. I talked to him at one point. I assume he is rehabbing still.

  47. By ben on Feb 5, 2010 | Reply

    Exactly what I wanted, not sure how I missed that, thank Urban you are the man!!!

  48. By darrenurban on Feb 5, 2010 | Reply

    Ben –

    I am the man, aren’t I. ;)

  49. By chris on Feb 5, 2010 | Reply

    peppers get peppers :D idd love to julius pepers here inless the panthers resign him

  50. By TucsonTim on Feb 5, 2010 | Reply

    First, let’s get a defensive coordinator. We’ve got 11 people playing as individuals. They went to the 3-4 because Whiz wanted them to. Maybe it was a good idea, but then I saw 4 down in New Orleans, huh?

    You couldn’t coach a corner to turn around when you had Toler, but then Toler wasn’t a former Steeler.

    Firing Penderagast for losing the Super Bowl was justified, but now what? Do you really think our offense next year can score more points? How many times do you want to give up more than 40 points. How many 99 yard drives.

    I’m still angry about the fact that you could have heard a pin drop in the nasty super dome after Hightower’s run and we couldn’t get a stop.

    Some times you have to regonize the moment and respond. We didn’t and we’re going to watch the game this Sunday.

  51. By Dan on Feb 6, 2010 | Reply

    We need to draft Greg Hardy in the 1st rd, he will be gone in the 2nd by the time we pick. I know a great DE when I see one. He didn’t have a great year but he’s going to be an upgrade and a guy who can finally get to the QB when we need it.

  52. By Dan on Feb 6, 2010 | Reply

    Julius Peppers? Are u kidding me? The guy would suck too much money, he’s getting older and he is inconsistent. Sure hes a great player but his best days are behind him, too much money.

  53. By Dan on Feb 6, 2010 | Reply

    Hey John, I’d LOVE to get Brandon Graham, Hughes will be gone as well. The real question is draft Greg Hardy or go with the best player available on the board? My gut says Greg Hardy because I’m sick and tired of no pass rush. Having no pass rush makes our secondary look like crap, that’s why we are so bad on 3rd and long and 4th down conversions………..NO PASS RUSH. Game is won and lost in the trenches plain and simple. Why do u think McFadden looked like a bum this year? He didn’t have a great pass rush like he had in Pittsburgh. I don’t care if your the best CB on the planet, you can’t cover a High School WR when a QB has all day to throw the ball. Our largest gaping need is to solve the problem at the lack of pressure around the outside ends. If I was running the team I’d draft all DE’s and LBs and may the best guys win.

  54. By Tucsonaaron on Feb 6, 2010 | Reply

    Darren,

    I know we need a good pass rusher in the draft but if Rob Gronkowski is sitting there you think Whiz would look at him maybe? We need a better TE and that would be a good upgrade. Maybe its the UofA bias but this guy may be great.

  55. By darrenurban on Feb 6, 2010 | Reply

    Tucsonaaron –

    We’ll see. I don’t know how important TE is to this offense. If he isn’t a good blocker, probably not. Otherwise, it’s possible.

  56. By Dan on Feb 6, 2010 | Reply

    Brandon Graham, Derrick Morgan or Greg Hardy should be our first pick in the draft, anybody other than 1 of those 3 and I’ll be bummed. Hardy is my 3rd choice but he’s probably the last one to go out of the 3 but I’d love to have him.

  57. By John on Feb 6, 2010 | Reply

    Dan,
    The problem with Hardy is he is more of a 4-3 end. At 6’4″ and 280, I dont think he fits into the 3-4. Although he is explosive, he is not quick off the snap. Scouts compare him to Julius Peppers but he struggled at East-West game.
    On the other hand, Jerry Hughes is perfect fit for the 3-4. he is very quick off the snap. He posted double didget sacks the last 2 years. Most draft boards give him a high second round grade, meaning he will be there at the 26th pick.
    Personally, I like Witherspoon with our 26th pick to take Dansby’s place and trade Boldin to someone like the chiefs for their 2nd round pick and grab Hughes there.
    Hey Darren, Would Haley want Boldin again to help out Cassel ?

  58. By darrenurban on Feb 6, 2010 | Reply

    John –

    The Chiefs are young. I don’t know if they’d give up an early second-rounder for a soon-to-be 30-year-old receiver.

  59. By k. on Feb 6, 2010 | Reply

    wow! so much to comment on and where to begin? let’s start with the l.t. , a. thomas and julius talk – not happening and thank god for that! as to the defense i must say i agree to a degree. i think in the last two years the late game defense is too damn passive. it seems as though the coaches say we’ll bide their time and then when the opposing offense gets within the redzone then we have more of an aggressive mindset. i can understand this approach to a certain degree but there has to be a time when you play to win and not play to lose which is my feeling on these vanilla defenses at these moments in the game. i would like to see greg toler get a shot at starter but i do think mcfadden is worth every penny. ware was definitely miss’d after his injury and hopefully he’ll come back strong this year. i like mike adams and i hope we hang onto him but i do think he is only a situational player not a true backup. so far my opinion on 1st round draft pick is clearly brandon graham he looks like another dwight freeney in the making. k.

  60. By Dan on Feb 6, 2010 | Reply

    Not a fan of Hughes, as far as Greg Hardy not being a 3-4 guy, I’m sure he’ll be just fine. Not quick enough? Have him lose 10-15lbs. I think he’s quick enough and I see him turning the corner in more ways than one.

  61. By Gary on Feb 7, 2010 | Reply

    Darren, first let me say I’m glad you work for the Cards because you do a great job.
    I know most everybody including myself wants us to draft a passrusher or two, but my biggest worry for this team is the left offensive tackle spot. Do you think the Cards are going to bring in a free agent to start there or do you see us using our first round pick on a tackle? I really don’t see anyone on our roster that could play left tackle at a high level. I don’t think Wayne Gandy will be re-signed, that is why I am leaving him out of the picture.

    If we draft defense in the first round, what do you think of us drafting Brandon Graham? I think he will be a very good passrusher and should be there when we draft.

  62. By darrenurban on Feb 7, 2010 | Reply

    Gary –

    I think the Cards will try and use a combination of Brandon Keith and Levi Brown at tackle, although they will try and have a veteran for depth. I don’t think they will bring back Mike Gandy. I don’t know about Graham; it’s too early for me to know much about the rookies-to-be.

  63. By Scott Hornberger on Feb 8, 2010 | Reply

    Darren – forgive me if you’ve answered this somewhere else and I didn’t catch it. But as we talk about the defense, the first two guys I think of are Dansby and Dockett. Straight up, do you think they will both be here next year? Can they get a deal done with one and keep the other one here with the franchise tag?

  64. By darrenurban on Feb 8, 2010 | Reply

    Scott –

    Dockett is under contract through 2011. He’s not going anywhere.

    As for Dansby, the franchise tag, IMO, is prohibitive at this point to use it a third straight season. I am guessing some team will throw insane money at Karlos and he will leave, but we will see.

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