Off the edge

Posted by Darren Urban on January 31, 2011 – 3:25 pm

By the time I arrived to cover the Cardinals full-time, Simeon Rice’s best Cardinals’ season was behind him, with 16½ sacks in 1999. I was in place just in time for a contract dispute and “Don’t-tell-Mike-Jurecki-come-talk-to-me!” from then-GM Bob Ferguson. Rice had only 7½ sacks in 2000 and then left as a free agent.

Since then, finding a difference-making pass rusher hasn’t been easy for the Cardinals.

They signed one as a free agent in 2004, when they got Bertrand Berry and he collected 14½ that season (including four on Giants quarterback Kurt Warner, if you recall) but then injuries and eventually age shredded Berry’s chances to reach double digits again. That year was the only one where a Cardinal had at least 10 sacks since Rice’s big 1999 season; amazingly, Berry’s five sacks led the Cards in their Super Bowl season. Defensive end Calais Campbell led the Cards this season with six.

The Cards did get pressure-by-committee more in 2009. Campbell and Darnell Dockett tied for the team lead with seven, although the Cards had 43 as a team (sixth in the NFL), the most they had ever posted since moving to Arizona in 1988. That number dropped to 33 this season, and the current problems on offense – last season, the Cards had the lead much more often, providing more chances to rush the passer – certainly had something to do with it. In any case, that one guy the other team has to fear all by himself, he remains absent.

So that brings us to where the Cards stand now. Let’s, for a moment, assume the labor issues are resolved relatively quickly. Can they get that guy now? Could they, perhaps, pry someone like LaMarr Woodley away as a free agent (although reports are that Woodley expects to remain in Pittsburgh)? Then there is the idea of someone like Von Miller of Texas A&M would be a good draft pick, because of the pressure he could provide. (There is also the idea of someone like O’Brien Schofield developing into that dynamic guy, which he was in college). For a moment, forget about specifics. To get such a player, whomever he might be, improves your secondary/pass defense, because the more pressure you can deliver without blitzing means the more defenders you have in pass coverage.

And besides, it’d be one more guy who – as coaches and players alike like to say – “makes plays.” Those are the guys who tilt the game in your favor.

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57 Responses to “Off the edge”

  1. By CZarr on Jan 31, 2011 | Reply

    Man… Its weird to see Warner in a Giants uniform.

  2. By harlanlee1 on Jan 31, 2011 | Reply

    Okay. So we need a big time pass rusher. But first — and foremost — we need a DC who will bring out the best in the entire Defense. But we are all now well aware that a decision on the DC will not come until after the Super Bowl. With all their feet dragging, the Cards will be extremely fortunate to sign a real difference-maker at DC. My thought is that before any changes are made, including new acquisitions for the Defense, a solid take-charge DC must be on board. Are we too late to get Mike Nolan — or even entice Jim Mora to come in?

  3. By Darren Urban on Jan 31, 2011 | Reply

    Harlanlee —

    RE: Nolan/Mora

    Nolan is already a DC in Miami. Mora has already said he doesn’t want to coach this year.

  4. By Scott H on Jan 31, 2011 | Reply

    Wow…looking at picture…I remember that game so well. Warner played so bad, I thought for sure his career was pretty much over. He was awful. Taking too many sacks and he was a turnover machine. The Cards feasted on him that day. And I was beside myself when I heard after the season that the Cardinals were trying to sign Warner. I thought it was about the dumbest thing they could possibly do! And for a couple of seasons, Warner did little to prove me wrong. And then…well, let’s just say I was happy to eat my words. His late-career resurrection was the perfect ending to one of the greatest stories in NFL history.

  5. By harlanlee1 on Jan 31, 2011 | Reply

    Duh. We all know Nolan already has a job. And we all know that Mora has publicly denied any interest in coaching this year. So? Whatever happened to creative, aggressive management, go-out-and-get-the-best-guy-available mentality? Ooops! That requires opening up the purse strings. My bad.

  6. By Drinking Burboun on Jan 31, 2011 | Reply

    Hey Urb,

    Would that sack pictured be considered a personal foul in today’s princess NFL?

    Seriously though, we need Robert Quinn!!!

  7. By D on Jan 31, 2011 | Reply

    Woodley will be franchised. I say, a combination of V. Miller or R. Quinn on one end from the draft and say a FA of Kamerion Wimbley with Schofield and Davis improving….I think they need to bring a interior LB too, like N. Barnett or Stewart Bradly…I believe when they signed Lennon he was suppose to be a backup and special teamer…not sure if he can duplicate what he did last year…also should look to bring in a FA NT to push Williams, doubt it Robinson or Watson will return…Cullen Jenkins???

  8. By Darrel on Jan 31, 2011 | Reply

    Hey d I think we go qb in the first round I think. O brien will be our much needed pass rusher he played @ about 237 last year he’ll come back close to 250. Hell be a beast . But. I really like nick barnett. And bradely for our mlb. Great opitons

  9. By georgiebird on Jan 31, 2011 | Reply

    One important thing on Simeon Rice- while was a great edge pass rusher, Rice was terrible against the run. Good teams would easily push Rice to the outside and run right up the tackle hole.
    Now a player like Rice is fine if you have run stuffers on the line and big linebackers on his side.(which the Cards don’t have) I don’t think the Cardinals can afford a one dimensional defensive end since the rest of the defense is so weak. A great place for a Rice-type player-NY Jets.
    So if the Cardinals are stubbornly holding to the 3-4 scheme, a Simeon Rice type should be avoided at all costs. Also, if the edge rusher is that good, the offense will double team him on pass plays since no one else on the defense requires a double team.
    If Calais was producing big time, the edge rusher would not be the priority it is. Time to get someone in here to get the six DLs we have to produce or get rid of them.

  10. By Mark on Jan 31, 2011 | Reply

    Darren, you don’t see Washington or Schofield stepping up and improving into that type of player? Because if Patrick Peterson was there when the Cards are in the clock, I’d hate to pass on that type of player. I really like Von Miller though. I just never predicted him THAT high of a pick.

  11. By Darren Urban on Jan 31, 2011 | Reply

    Mark —

    RE: Improvement

    I don’t know. Washington is going to be an ILB so he won’t be the guy. And I’m not saying they will spend the first pick only on a pass rusher. I was merely highlighting the need.

  12. By Joe-B on Jan 31, 2011 | Reply

    I like the idea of drafting Miller.

  13. By Mark on Jan 31, 2011 | Reply

    Also- do the Cards have a 2nd round pick in the draft or was it traded away last year? If we do- any CHANCE Gabbert falls that far?? I sense not.

  14. By Darren Urban on Jan 31, 2011 | Reply

    Mark —

    RE: Second round

    The Cards do have a second round pick. No, I don’t think Gabbert falls that far. Some don’t think he’ll last to No. 5.

  15. By Ben on Jan 31, 2011 | Reply

    Robert Quinn

  16. By Phoenixraven1 on Jan 31, 2011 | Reply

    Schofield will be for sure! The dude is a beast! Wearing a brace he finished the final two games strong. Think Porter taught him a few tricks for sure. Love the guys work ethic too! Darren you can insert the link to the great article you wrote befor he got off the PUP! Lol!

  17. By stevedco on Jan 31, 2011 | Reply

    harlanlee1 – You do realize Coach Whiz is one of the higher paid coaches in the NFL so the idea of opening purse strings is shot. Two years ago they were top 10 in payroll. Two years ago NE, GB, Indy and Balt were all bottom 5 payroll. Teams have to rebuild.

    Coach Whiz is waiting to talk to the big names, which is why no one has been hired yet.

    LeBeau and Capers are both zone blitz guys and helped create the system, literally. Getting someone like a Butler off that staff would be what we need.

    Von Miller or Quinn will be the 1st pick and either an OL or CB going in the 2nd.

    I’m excited about this team. O’brien and a draft pick on the edges and Skelton and a veteran fighting with Skelton for the starting job.

    And for anyone who says this team is cheap, please provide a case when they should have done something, since being in UoP. Dansby was way over paid. Rhodes is better than Rolle so great move there.

    Extended, Fitz, Wilson, Dockett (btw all 3 pro-bowlers) signed Faneca, Porter, Haggens, James, Lenon

  18. By Chuck 1 on Jan 31, 2011 | Reply

    Surely, there must be an Over-the-Hill (OTH) ex-Steeler FA pass rusher available.
    OH, that’s right!!! We tried that in 2010.

  19. By AZCardsFan602 on Jan 31, 2011 | Reply

    My ideal draft (dont we all love to speculate and create our own mock drafts?)

    1) Von Miller OLB
    2) Derek Sherrod OT or Gabe Carimi OT or Marcus Cannon OT
    3) Jimmy Smith CB or Aaron WIlliams CB or Curtis Brown CB
    4) John Moffitt C/G or Will Rackley G

    I really liked what I saw from WR Leonard Hankerson. sure, we dont NEED a WR, but i’m not sold on Doucet/WIlliams/Komar as a legit #3. Hankerson, if we got him, would be a PERFECT #2, moving Breaston back to the slot where he’s more suited.

  20. By Scott H on Jan 31, 2011 | Reply

    Wait a minute…I thought Dockett was a guy that teams had to fear all by himself! Wasn’t he??? Wasn’t that why we all thought he was so deserving of the extension he got??? Unfortunately, the guy who wore #90 this past season bore little resemblance to the guy who wore it BEFORE he got his extension. DD, I love ya, man…but I sure hope you find the guy who was missing in action this year and get him back before September! I kinda miss that guy…

  21. By Darren Urban on Jan 31, 2011 | Reply

    Scott H —

    RE: Dockett

    But he doesn’t come off the edge. And there is a difference.

  22. By Mark in Chandler on Jan 31, 2011 | Reply

    Von Miller is the best pure pass rusher and could have Elvis Dummerville type of ability. My concern with Miller is that at just under 240 will he be a liability against the power run. (Picture D. Washington against the Falcons or the Raiders or…you get the point.)

    Robert Quinn could be a Peppers-type of player. At around 265 he has the potential of being special but it is just hard to be confident because all film on him is over a year old. He could be a good edge force while still holding the edge against the run.

    If you think Schofiled could become an 8-10 sack guy then I think either Quinn or Kerrigan would be a good option. Kerrigan is more of a LOLB (i.e. Woodley-Hali). He is a beast. Wait until the combine and he will blow away the competition in the bench press.

    Unless the Cardinals feel like they have to have Quinn then I would work hard to trade down. There are many teams in the early teens that might want a 5th pick and might be willing to give up a 2nd round for it. (i.e. Vikings, Oakland,…) If they trade down the Cards would still get one of those 3 OLB and also pick up a valauable additional pick.

    (I sure hope there is movement on the CBA soon. I am not sure I can analyze the draft any further without suffering a brain hemarage. I need Free agency for sanity sake if nothing else.)

  23. By Steve Lee on Jan 31, 2011 | Reply

    QB…QB…QB…QB When do we get one? Someone who can train Skelton?

  24. By blake on Jan 31, 2011 | Reply

    Darren if you came in 1999 then you must remember Andre Wadsworth , as he was suppose to be a “LOCK” (just goes to show that there are no SURE things ) what a waste of a #3 over all pick. I am just keeping my figers crossed ,as lets be honest , coach’s picks since he has been here have not been all that great. not saying he hasnt drafted some good players , BUT
    maybe they should hire Denny just to help with the draft 🙂 Always a Cards fan

  25. By Lionel on Jan 31, 2011 | Reply

    We sure need a quarterback. We need kurt Warner to come out of retirement.

  26. By tyman on Jan 31, 2011 | Reply

    good job darren on this article. Bert Berry was a huge loss this year for sure. I think from what I’ve seen this year that we dont really need to go get a guy in FA or early in a draft. Guess it depends on who we hire as our def coach. If you watch the film from this year we were way to perdictible and the players where way to tired. I think Joey will rebound this year, and along with clark and some of the younger guys like will davis and Schofield. I think we have the guys to get there. Maybe if we can get our middle lb’s to gain some size that might also help. Dansbe was a tall middle LB and I think that, thats somthing we are missing. Not to take away from washington and Paris. We will see what happens in the off-season though. I dont think Woodly would be the greatest pick up though, depends on the contract for sure. Good article though Darren, Its good to have some intelligent cards fans. P.S. front office, draft a shut down corner/db in the first round if there is one. Just look at the patriots last few drafts. It works.

  27. By jzoully on Jan 31, 2011 | Reply


    Why does no one talk about the amazing skill of Aldon Smith, he might be a bit of a nah not what we need but he is the VERY best at speed rush. With much discipline he will be a tremendous athlete. And not to mention the great instinct that Da’Quan Bowers has, bring in one of those guys and I swear fear will strike the hearts of many. Is Da’Quan Bowers or Aldon Smith a “fit” for the Cardinals?

  28. By Darren Urban on Jan 31, 2011 | Reply

    jzoully —

    RE: Bowers/Smith

    I had never heard of Smith until the other day, so I can’t speak to him. I don’t know much about Bowers either.

    That’s what the combine is for.

  29. By brad oneill on Jan 31, 2011 | Reply

    i could see a de/olb conversion being our first pick. and 240 is fine for a rookie de. just look at teddy bruschi. he ended up working out pretty good as a linebacker.

    honestly i suspect we will trade down unless there is an absolutely must have need available at the 5 spot. and i don’t think there are any rookie qbs that meet that requirement. I would hate to see us end up like jacksonville last year and wasting a high pick on a mid round or even second round guy.

  30. By neil on Jan 31, 2011 | Reply

    Is this you saying that we aren’t going to resign Fitz and we are going to spend years looking for another like him? Lol :p

  31. By John the draft guy on Jan 31, 2011 | Reply

    The answer is both! Sign Woodley and draft Miller. Bulger will be the QB. Then draft a tackle in the second and sign Marcellious Lewis at TE. See how easy it is 🙂 . If we are dreaming, How about Ngata? He is a free agent and could team up with dockett and williams as a pretty tough dline.


    How was Wadsworth a bad pick? As a rookie, he had 5 sacks and made an impact after holding out. He added 2 sacks in the playoffs against Eric Williams, dominating him and helped Aeneas Williams pick Aikman twice to help lead us to a win. Then, he got injured and ended his career. You can’t predict injuries. Wadsworth had a ton of talent and was the right pick. His injury, not talent, ended his playing days.

    Denny Green?
    1 good draft in 2004- thats it. Antrel Rolle over Aaron Rodgers when your starter was Josh McCown? Matt Leinart in 06? 2005 and 2006 were waste of the draft. Look it up.

  32. By Ottis Anderson Fan on Jan 31, 2011 | Reply

    For what it’s worth, Simeon Rice was acquired via the draft and not as an aging FA. Starting a rookie pass rusher (think Brian Orakpo) who’s number one job is to pin his ears back and get to the QB isn’t as complicated as stArting a rookie Safety or MLB to QB your defense.

    Unfortunately I don’t see any pure LBs in the 2011 draft worthy of a first-round pick, and to take a college DE and convert him to a LB is a lengthy process with no guarantee of success. The top DEs in this draft look too big (270+) to be converted to LB.

    Unless the Cards go to a 4-3, taking the best player available at #6 may be the best choice if no pass-rushing LB is deemed worth a #6 overall pick.

  33. By AndyStandsUp on Jan 31, 2011 | Reply

    Prefer Quinn over Miller for the reason stated before; Miller is fairly small to blow past the TE/OL.
    I throw my OLB hat into the ring with Green Bay’s AJ Hawk. He’s played ILB and OLB and 30 front and 40 front. He’s owed 10 mil in 2011 and with Nick Barnett coming back, a draft choice GB is high on and Clay Matthews suggests that the front office will either re-sign at a discounted price or trade him.

  34. By jzoully on Jan 31, 2011 | Reply

    John the draft guy,

    You don’t hear this enough, your a genius. I will plead to the draft gods that Da’Quan Bowers is available. You heard of him? He had 63 tackles, 24 for a loss which resulted in 150 negative yards, that is the most negative yards in NCAA. Also 15.5 sacks is just too good to pass. Tell me we don’t deserve something like that.

  35. By Walter L on Feb 1, 2011 | Reply

    A young, home grown LB corps consisting of O’Scho, D-Wash, and Von Miller, sprinkled with vets like Lenon, Haggans, and (To Be Announced), paired with the Defensive line of Nine-0, Dumpster Dan, and Calais Campbell (he needs a nickname, all I got is Chunky Soup. Any takers? lol) sounds like a pretty formidable front seven to me. Add the current secondary into the mix (draft another CB for depth), add a quality coordinator and folks, we have a defense.

  36. By Daniel Christensen on Feb 1, 2011 | Reply


    Do you know why cardinals wants to keep their budget as low as they do? and isn’t bad when they really need to get the play going, they wouldn’t be the best in the their Division if they dont want to pay for it?

  37. By Darren Urban on Feb 1, 2011 | Reply

    Daniel —

    RE: Payroll

    Get back to me after the CBA is resolved and let’s see where we are. If it remains way low then, then it’s a problem. But if this is a CBA concern, well, they aren’t the only team in that boat right now.

  38. By Jesse Robles on Feb 1, 2011 | Reply

    We need Von Miller!! Miller, Schofield, and Washington!!! So young and talented, our front 7 would start to look amazing!! LETS GO DEFENSE!!! If we want to be like the Steelers, which we basically are trying to be, we need a Defense, get a vet as a QB, good to go. Darnell Dockett said it best, ” this season, we were seeing what kind of talent we had away from the QB position” Our D is going to be good, very good, very soon!

  39. By James on Feb 1, 2011 | Reply


    If you had to pick do you think the cardinals would address defensive needs in the draft or offensive?

    Thanks Darren!

  40. By Darren Urban on Feb 1, 2011 | Reply

    James —

    RE: Draft

    I’m pretty sure they will be addressing both.

  41. By Chuck 1 on Feb 1, 2011 | Reply

    Many posters cite the need for a CB.
    We had a good one in Bryant McFadden and traded him back to the Steelers.
    I think that we should send our 1st round draft pick to the Steelers to get McFadden back.
    After all, he is a former (and current) Steeler. That should enhance the deal.


  42. By D on Feb 1, 2011 | Reply

    Funny, I think the only people who like media day is the media..I know the players and fans dont care

  43. By Jesse Robles on Feb 1, 2011 | Reply

    Chuck 1,
    Mcfadden is not good, hints why Troy won DPOY, picking up his slack. He is horrible.

  44. By AZCardsFan602 on Feb 1, 2011 | Reply

    You know, if Miller is gone by our pick, and Bowers is avail, i say we take him. Then… in the 2012 draft, draft the home grown STUD LB, Vontaze Burfict out of ASU. Lol, if:

    Campbell, Dan Williams & Dockett (with Bowers altnerating between DE & LB)
    then Lenon, Burfict, D-Wash & Ob-Scho (assuming we’re a 3-4)..

    if that doesnt scare you, i dont know what will.

    especially if we magically land a LB/Secondary coach from Pitt/GB.. as i’m sure they’ve learned a TON from the DC’s there.

  45. By Scott H on Feb 1, 2011 | Reply

    Jesse –

    I think Chuck 1 was being sarcastic…

  46. By cardinalchris on Feb 1, 2011 | Reply

    Aldon Smith is a beast! Von Miller is my second choice. The film on Quinn is not nearly as impressive as Aldon Smith!

  47. By Scott H on Feb 1, 2011 | Reply


    RE : Dockett, your response

    Yeah, I hear you and I agree. But who did we have coming off the edge during previous years when DD was much more dominant than he was this year? Whatever success this team has had getting to the QB in recent memory, it wasn’t coming from individual players. It came from disguised blitz packages that gave everybody a chance to come after the QB at some point. Maybe it’s wrong of me to put too much blame on DD for dropping off too much as an individual player when, really, the entire defense as a unit dropped off considerably. But,,,I can’t help feeling disappointed with DD, nevertheless. Would an interior d-lineman like DD benefit greatly from a dominant DE? Sure, he would. I guess my point is that DD managed to be a dominant force for years WITHOUT a stud pass rusher off the edge. Until last season.

  48. By D on Feb 1, 2011 | Reply

    FA/ Draft/ Lineup in 2011:
    Let’s assume a deal is done in March and these players are available/wont resign with current teams:
    Dockett/D. Williams/Campbell
    backups-Branch (resign), FA- C. Jenkins or M. Spears (lose Robinson & Watson)
    V. Miller or R. Quinn (draft) Stewart Bradley FA, D. Washington, K. Wimbley FA
    backups: Lennon, Schonfield, W. Davis (lose Haagans, Porter, Hayes)
    Wilson, Rhodes, R. Johnson
    DRC, Toler, Nickel-draft pick
    M. Bulger or K. Orten FA/trade
    Backup: Skelton and draft pick
    TE: K. Boss FA
    backup: B. Patrick (resign)
    RB: B. Wells, Hightower, Hyphen
    WR: Fitz, Breaston (resign) Docuet (resign)
    L. Brown, Hadnot, Sendlein (resign), Lutui (resign) M. Yanda FA
    backup: Bridges and D Baas FA, Draft pick (lose Faneca)
    Kicker Feeley, Punter Graham (resign)

  49. By Chuck 1 on Feb 1, 2011 | Reply

    Scott H, you’re absolutely correct.
    That’s why I wrote LMAO.
    I was referring to Whiz’s penchant for signing and playing former Steelers regardless of whether they have anything left in the tank e,g, Faneca and Porter. Although McFadden was young enough to have something left in the tank, he didn’t play like it for the Cards.

  50. By John the draft guy on Feb 1, 2011 | Reply

    Bowers most likely wont be there at 5. He could go 1.
    smith is shooting up draft boards and could climb after the combine.
    But for me, miller comes off the corner like no one else. He has experience as an olb and could boost this pass rush right away.

    Being from texas, and having a wife who went to A&M, maybe I’m partial.

  51. By WarnerFan#13 on Feb 2, 2011 | Reply

    Darren, Will Edgerrin James be available to the Cards in they are interested in signing him again?

  52. By Josh on Feb 3, 2011 | Reply

    To the guy that had his mock draft up there. Do U have a Brain?
    The Cards NEED a QB and none of the ones on the roster are EVER gonna be any good, if they ever R I will eat my own feces. A QB in the first Round needs to be there number 1 concern, letting go of Leinart for Anderson was the biggest mistake Whis has ever made, and I said so at the beginning when he let leinart go that D.A was gonna stink it up, and it did not take long for him to prove me right. Max hall an Skelton both are a couple of 3rd stringers at best. I would rather have Jamarcus Russell than Derek Anderson, although neither will ever take the team any where but the bottom of the standings.

  53. By Josh on Feb 3, 2011 | Reply

    The Cardinals need to make a strong push for Kevin Kolb or Mcnabb if the skins release him, untill they do it won’t matter who we draft at linebacker or O-line or whatever, without a QB we will stay at the bottom of the standings, year after year.

  54. By Josh on Feb 3, 2011 | Reply

    One more thing, The Cards are NOT the Steelers, we won’t ever get better if Whiz keeps trying to pluck there old washed up players.

  55. By Josh on Feb 3, 2011 | Reply

    Campbell deserved to be in the Pro Bowl this year way more than Dockett did.

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