Time for the defense to recalibrate

Posted by Darren Urban on August 20, 2014 – 9:52 am

Perhaps the day off Tuesday came at the right time for the Cardinals. The defense can digest the season-ending injury to Darnell Dockett, and defensive coordinator Todd Bowles can start to sort out how exactly he will run his defense with the pieces he has left. You can sit and mull what the Cardinals don’t have now compared to 2013, but it’s a moot point.

Along the defensive line, the Cardinals are expected to add a vet to the roster (Brett Keisel went back to Pittsburgh) but veteran Frostee Rucker should end up as the starter alongside Calais Campbell and Dan Williams. There should be plenty of mixing and matching, though, with rookies Ed Stinson and Kareem Martin and now, Alameda Ta’amu, who comes back to practice today. There would have been mixing and matching even if Dockett was healthy. Getting a steady rotation on the defensive line has been one of the main themes GM Steve Keim wanted to accomplish while re-tooling the roster. The key here could be Ta’amu, because if he can return to form relatively quickly, it will impact the middle of that line.

At linebacker, there have long been concerns and whenever Kevin Minter returns to the field, that probably doesn’t go away. I thought Larry Foote played pretty well in Minnesota and it was encouraging to see newcomer Desmond Bishop do what he did in a handful of plays, but the question marks don’t go away and now you don’t have a guy like Dockett in front of them. The plus is that outside linebacker John Abraham is back (his return to practice, pictured below, was seriously overshadowed Monday by the Dockett news) but again, until he plays his way into shape, it’s tough to know what he’ll bring.

In the secondary, the Cardinals not only have all their guys still but now Tyrann Mathieu is back in the mix too. That group remains the strongest, although playing out on an island at times means they need the front seven to come through. That was a bit troubling to hear Bruce Arians talk about how many times the Cardinals did not run their blitzes correctly in Minnesota — Bowles was magical last year the way he schemed players to often get to the quarterback untouched — and that will be a key to this whole thing.

The Cardinals’ offense will be better this season and they will need to be. Regardless, the Cardinals aren’t going to get where they want to go unless the defense plays at a high level. They will have to do it differently than they once planned.


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Posted in Blog | 16 Comments »

16 Responses to “Time for the defense to recalibrate”

  1. By Coach K on Aug 20, 2014 | Reply


    Do you think we have the talent at wide receiver to jump out to early leads and outscore opponents despite the defensive losses we have suffered?

  2. By Darren Urban on Aug 20, 2014 | Reply

    Coach K —

    RE: Offense

    I think this offense has some nice scoring potential.

  3. By D on Aug 20, 2014 | Reply

    There are some concerns with many of the key players that have been missing and the many new players to learn to communicate with each other. I think Frostee will do a fine job in the rotation. Todd Bowles will need to do a very good job this year coaching his staff and players.(not that he has done poorly last year)

    This is the year Calais has to be the leader on defense, which I have no doubt he will do fine. I am a little worried about Tyrann coming back too soon with how bad his injury was, hopefully he doesn’t have any setbacks. Acho, Okafor and Benard will need to provide Abraham some help with the pass rush. No to mention the big concern that until our defense can show they can cover TE’s, our opponents will keep going to that option.

    On a side note, got to love Coach Ditka, he is similar to BA where they both pull no punches.

  4. By Cheese on Aug 20, 2014 | Reply


    Do you have information on Abraham’s DWI? Was he arrested and are the Cardinals expecting some sort of suspension for him this season?


  5. By Darren Urban on Aug 20, 2014 | Reply

    Cheese —

    RE: Abraham

    He was arrested in Georgia in late June. It has not yet been adjudicated. If it is addressed by the NFL in terms of punishment, I would not expect anything until after the season.

  6. By kiedis98 on Aug 20, 2014 | Reply


    Do you think there is a possibility of LB Shaunisy (probably spelled wrong) who used to play DE for the Raiders might move into a rotation on the D Line. Acho is having a good camp and it would be nice to get both those players on the field at the same time

  7. By Darren Urban on Aug 20, 2014 | Reply

    kiedis —

    RE: Shaughnessy

    He is a linebacker. Sometimes he will play DE in sub-packages, but he will not be in the DLine rotation.

  8. By ryan on Aug 20, 2014 | Reply


    I’m sure it’s just a matter of time before you get nominated for the ice water challenge. will you be nice enough to put it on the wesite for us?

    get well Dockett!!

  9. By krehbieo14 on Aug 20, 2014 | Reply

    I don’t think Arians is anything like Ditka. Coach Arians has a brain.

  10. By Patrick Hoog aka Don't Take Losses on Aug 20, 2014 | Reply

    Well said. DL and DB were deepest positions coming in, so losing DD hurts but perhaps manageable. Bowles has lots of pieces to work with still…and a lot of guys with guts.

  11. By jakeplummersghost on Aug 20, 2014 | Reply

    Darren, I’ve heard that Minter might require surgery for his pec and could miss time in the regular season. Any truth to this/thoughts on this? it never ends…

  12. By Darren Urban on Aug 20, 2014 | Reply

    Jakeplummerghost —

    RE: Minter

    Arians continues to say Minter is day to day. There hasn’t been any other info offered up. In my experience, it’s not uncommon to have a pec injury meaning some degree of tearing. I don’t know if you can be just bruised there, especially sitting out this long thus far. But if he definitely needed surgery to be fixed, you’d think that would have been decided by now.

  13. By Dr. G. on Aug 20, 2014 | Reply

    Please correct if I am wrong on this- – – – Bowles is the versatile coach who can utilize the players according to their strengths, ((ala Dockett last year)), not just trying to jam them into a scheme to live or die….. I look to Bowles to really show his skill in the organization of the defensive schemes and personnel this season… He may have to adjust things some to get it done… He is very capable…. Be well Cards Fans…

  14. By clssylssy on Aug 21, 2014 | Reply

    I was skeptical of our defense before Doc’s injury, was somewhat amused at BA’s critical comments after the last preseason game however, I still don’t believe that our offense can carry the team to a SB in light of the beefed up defense of about every team during the off season. I am pleased with the changes on offense and would consider us a definite contender with our defense from last season but it seems the field has shifted and we still need to even out. Our secondary is top notch but most good teams build from the line, an area we are weakest. Bowles certainly was not impressive in Philly and had the remnants of Ray Horton’s defense to build on and work with last season plus some very knowledgeable and seasoned consultants and assistants. That being said, I think Calais is a great player, John Abraham and Frostee Rucker have the experience and wisdom, and even after the latest signings we still are in need of our own Ray Lewis type emotional defensive leader which Dockett was. With one spot still open, I’m hoping Keim is paying attention when cuts begin as it looks like their will be major competition for these players. Still keeping my fingers crossed that there are no more players lost to injury and the Cards will be able to START STRONG, PLAY SMART, & STAY HEALTHY!

  15. By Brad on Aug 21, 2014 | Reply


    Any chance we could possible trade Lindley and maybe a draft pick for a DE to fill the void at the position?

  16. By Darren Urban on Aug 21, 2014 | Reply

    Brad —

    RE: Lindley

    I guess it’s possible. I don’t think it’s likely.

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