Everyone could see how the Cards’ defense improved the second half of the season, especially since it was the defense that was the backbone of the final 7-2 record down the stretch. But I’ve been asked about actually statistical proof, and there was that too.
Breaking down the defense into their NFL rankings from Weeks 1-8 (when the Cards played seven games and were 1-6) and then from Weeks 9-17 (the aforementioned 7-2 finish) shows a stark contrast:
|Statistic||1-8 (Rank)||9-17 (Rank)|
|TDs Allowed||20 (T26th)||12 (3rd)|
|Rush TD Allowed||11 (T31st)||4 (T4th)|
|Pass TD Allowed||9 (7th)||8 (5th)|
|3rd Down Efficiency||37.8 (17th)||27.2 (1st)|
|Avg. 1st Downs Allowed||24.2 (31st)||18.1 (T10th)|
|Avg. Yards Allowed||390.7 (24th)||327.4 (13th)|
|Sacks||16 (T16th)||26 (T3rd)|
|Yards Per Pass Att.||7.9 (24th)||6.1 (2nd)|
|Red Zone TD Pct.||51.7 (14th)||27.6 (1st)|
Over the final nine games, 64 percent of the drives by Cards’ opponents (76 of 118) were five plays or less and 59 percent (70) covered 25 yards or less. Of the 12 touchdowns the Cards allowed, four came on drives that began on the Cards’ side of the 50-yard line.
Obviously, the Cardinals need to stay that stout over the course of the season, although their consistency over a more-than-two-month period (the Cards didn’t score more than 23 points in a game in any of those last nine games) was not only remarkable, but crucial for the team’s win-loss mark. Carrying that consistency into 2012 — and, in theory, adding pieces and more layers of the scheme — is what coach Ken Whisenhunt and defensive coordinator Ray Horton are aiming for over the offseason.
Tags: defense, Ray Horton
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