Defense looks a lot like last year

Posted by Darren Urban on October 30, 2013 – 10:50 am

It was Thursday before the Detroit game — probably not coincidentally, a few days after the Cardinals played their first game that counted — when defensive coordinator Todd Bowles said “we kind of figured out as coaches who were are and what we are and who we have.”

What was it in particular, Bowles was asked. “Nothing. It just kind of clicked. You walk to practice every day and work on things and you step back and think, you know who we are? And it kind of hits you. We started working toward that.”

So, even after the fear of switching to Bowles from Ray Horton and then losing starting linebackers Lorenzo Alexander and Sam Acho for the season in the third game of the year, the Cardinals’ defense has reached the midway point in pretty good shape — and looking, statistically, a lot like the unit that was solid for the Cardinals last year.

At this point, the Cardinals are 15th in overall defense (which is yards per game), 13th in scoring defense, tied for 10th in sacks, tied for first in fumble recoveries (7) and tied for third in interceptions (12). There are some holes with which to deal — big, athletic tight ends, for instance — but there has been very good play from the guys who were supposed to be good (Campbell, Dockett, Washington, Peterson), veteran help (Karlos Dansby has been better than anticipated) and rookie upgrades (Tyrann Mathieu has been immediately impressive.)

What is interesting to note is that over the next six games, the Cards face just one big-time quarterback — Andrew Luck of Indianapolis. Otherwise, it is (right now), Case Keenum, Chad Henne, Nick Foles, Kellen Clemens and Jake Locker. Not exactly murderer’s row. That will help in pushing for the postseason.

— The Cardinals are holding their final practice of the bye week today. There will be no injury report, of course, but coach Bruce Arians has the team in full pads. Running back Rashard Mendenhall (toe) and wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (hamstring) were the Cards sitting out.

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10 Responses to “Defense looks a lot like last year”

  1. By Roland B on Oct 30, 2013 | Reply

    Great article. I think Bowles has been very under-appreciated; there was a lot of fears about Ray Horton leaving, and then bringing Bowles in, who had struggled in a bad situation in Philly. A lot of people thought the D would fall apart without Horton.

  2. By Kevin S Mesa on Oct 30, 2013 | Reply

    When you look at that list of QB’s, it is not out of the question to think we could win 5 of those 6 and be 9-5… probably won’t beat Seattle on the road, but imagine playing at home the last weekend vs. SF with a chance to end at 10-6 and nudge out Detroit (or Carolina?) based on beating them.

    All speculative of course, but our next 2 games are against the 2 teams with the worst point differential in the AFC… then after the Indy game, we’re at Philly (struggling a lot, and for what it’s worth they’ve shown no home field advantage this year — 0-4 at home), home vs. St. Louis, a team we should have beaten on the road and who is without their #1 QB, and at Tennessee who’s lost 3 straight. Every one of these teams besides Indy is struggling. Now, we aren’t the Saints or 49ers, but we should either be favorites or, at worst, maybe a 3 point dog in each of these games.

    And even if one of those teams manages to beat us, I’m not writing off the Indy game at home. We’ll be a dog in that game too, but UofP will be rocking if we’re 6-4 riding a 3-game winning streak. And Bruce Arians knows Andrew Luck and that offense.

  3. By Big Ken on Oct 30, 2013 | Reply

    I think this defense is better than last years. I agree coach Bowles is under-appreciated. When are we going to bury Ray Horton and move on? The guy was a head case. No way head coach material even thou he ‘thought’ he was. Good luck Ray- in Cleveland.

  4. By Ottis Anderson Fan on Oct 30, 2013 | Reply

    Hopefully the offense will start upholding it’s end of the bargain, otherwise this great defense, much like last year, will start to wear-down and burn-out mentally and physically as the offense continues week after week to put the defense in bad spots (not getting them off the field, poor field position after turnovers, etc,.)

    This season is so much different than last year, but again so similar. Let’s hope the offense turns things around after the bye week and that the last half of this 2013 season won’t resemble anything close to the last half of the 2012 season.

  5. By joe67 on Oct 31, 2013 | Reply

    When you look at and consider the key injuries we have had, both season ending and some short term injuries to very key players, I think this is a better D without a doubt.

  6. By clssylssy on Oct 31, 2013 | Reply

    CONGRATULATIONS TO TYRANN MATHIEU, The Honey Badger, who, according to PFT was October’s Defensive Player of the Month (20 tackles, a sack, and an interception)! Still wondering why he doesn’t appear on the ProBowl ballot? Good job and boo on the nay sayers out their who didn’t believe he was a good pick and continue to wait for him to mess up…you know who you are! NUFF SAID!

  7. By Lifetime Fan on Oct 31, 2013 | Reply

    Has anyone been talking about that ridiculous PI call on Tyrann in the end zone? That was pretty egregious in my opinion, especially after the D had played so well to keep them out of the end zone all game.

    Especially funny when John Lynch the color man said that was a legit call because there was “contact” as Tyrann is in perfect position playing the ball and the TE has him in a head lock…

    Would be interested to hear if the league upheld the call, ie. graded the officials well for it.

  8. By ored on Oct 31, 2013 | Reply

    2nd that cngratulations to back to business,texans won’t be a rollover,they almost won last time,but they still have issues,namely qb ones,and that we well know are hard to overcome,and with the bye,we should be up for it.indy has beaten 3 top teams,should be a nice measuring stick of where we’re at,and then we have 2 knock down dragouts with heavyweights in division,not to mention another go around against the rams,who we should’ve beaten last time,but they in turn should’ve beaten the seahawks,they won that game everywhere but the scoreboard.will be a very interesting series of games,if we surprise to the upside,we could be scary in the playoffs,if not we still have much to build on and a better notion of whats’s needed and where.

    we’ve had glimpses of how a speed reciever can open up the offense and how a running game complements that,we;ve also seen to our chagrin what a stud TE can do also,do those,fix the o-line,and get a franchise qb for the future and we should be BOWLING.

  9. By VaCardsFan on Nov 1, 2013 | Reply

    I would be inclined to agree with you about the Texans had we struggled against the Falcons, who are a way better team than Houston this season. But if the cards come together like they did against Atlanta, I can definately see them blowing out Texas. (Hopefully they won’t make me eat those words) Here’s to going to a very possible 10-6 season and post season wild card spot!

  10. By tyman on Oct 31, 2013 | Reply

    It seems unfair how loaded the D is at some positions.

    If only the O can turn it around we could have a real chance.

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