When A Good Defense Goes Bad

Posted Aug 24, 2017

The Cardinals had one of the best defenses in the NFL last season. Sort of. They finished second in the NFL in both yards per play (4.8) and yards per game (305.2) allowed. Based on those numbers, the scoring defense should have been among the league’s elite, but it wasn’t. The Cardinals gave up 22.6 points per game last season, 14th in the NFL.

The Cardinals had one of the best defenses in the NFL last season. Sort of.

They finished second in the NFL in both yards per play (4.8) and yards per game (305.2) allowed. Based on those numbers, the scoring defense should have been among the league’s elite, but it wasn’t. The Cardinals gave up 22.6 points per game last season, 14th in the NFL.

Some of the discrepancy was out of the defense’s control, as the Cardinals allowed multiple scores on special teams and offense. But coach Bruce Arians did not absolve the group of blame, pointing out struggles in critical situations.

The Cardinals didn’t do well on third down last season. Opposing quarterbacks were 97-of-155 for 1,039 yards with 11 touchdowns and five interceptions for a passer rating of 92.4.

“Ending halves, ending games, getting off the field on third down, those are more important to me than we’re giving up the fewest yards in the league,” Arians said. “‘We’re the No. 1 defense.’ No, you’re not.”

Arians also brought up turnover margin, something the Cardinals have traditionally excelled at during his tenure. The Cardinals created 28 turnovers last year but gave away the same amount.

“Disruptive plays and turnovers is where we kind of made our name,” Arians said.

Arians is looking for productivity in critical situations this season, and is hammering that point home to his players.

“You’ve got defenses that bend-don’t-break type thing, where they give up a ton of yards but don’t get scored on a lot of points,” Arians said. “You’ve got teams that give up a lot of touchdowns but they don’t give up a lot of yards. Those statistics of who is the No. 1 defense in the league sometimes are very skewed. … You can be top-five in this and that, but if you’re not top-five in two-minute and not top-five in takeaways, you’re probably not winning games.”


YearTakeawaysGiveawaysMarginRecord
2016 28 28 0 7-8-1
2015 33 24 +9 13-3
2014 25 17 +8 11-5
2013 30 31 -1 10-6
 


Latest By The Numbers

  • Budda Baker Aces The Test

    Posted Nov 20, 2017

    The analytics site Pro Football Focus has a grading system akin to a classic school teacher. A rating above 90 is viewed as elite, a mark in the 80s is good, a grade in the 70s is average and so forth. On Sunday, Budda Baker was the valedictorian.

  • Larry Fitzgerald Is Not Slowing Down

    Posted Nov 13, 2017

    Larry Fitzgerald is the oldest wide receiver in the NFL, and yet, he continues to perform like a star in his prime. The Cardinals’ wide receiver is putting together yet another phenomenal season at the age of 34. Fitzgerald has 60 catches through nine games – tied with Antonio Brown for most in the NFL – for 677 yards and three touchdowns.

  • Jared Veldheer Back On Track

    Posted Nov 9, 2017

    Jared Veldheer was searching for answers during the first five games of the season, and it seems he has found them. The Cardinals’ dependable left tackle went through some growing pains as he moved to the right side but has corrected course over the past three games.

  • Jimmy Garoppolo Wasn't Right Fit For Cardinals

    Posted Nov 1, 2017

    The 49ers took a home run swing before Tuesday’s trading deadline, acquiring promising quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo from the Patriots for a second-round pick. The bold move by the 49ers and the Cardinals’ lack of aggressiveness at the deadline exasperated fans, but that type of trade wouldn’t have made as much sense for the Cardinals.

  • Cardinals Fumbling Their Chance

    Posted Oct 30, 2017

    In 2015, the Cardinals recovered 14 opponent fumbles, which was third in the NFL. Last season, they also recovered 14, which was second in the NFL. Through seven games of 2017, they don’t have any. That is tied with Broncos and Bengals for the worst in the league, as all three teams threaten to set an NFL record in fumble recovery futility.

Add Your Comment:

Guidelines: Please keep your comments relevant to the topic and appropriate. Abusive or combatant comments towards other fans will not be tolerated and will be removed from display on this site. Use the "Report Abuse" link to help keep the Cardinals community at its best.