The Cardinals had 17 takeaways in the preseason, and that type of production was never going to be sustainable.
Even so, the defense was hoping for a quicker start than this to the regular season. The Cardinals have only forced four turnovers on the season, which is tied for 21st in the NFL.
Steve Wilks began his NFL coaching career with the turnover-minded Bears in 2006 and has placed a heavy emphasis on takeaways ever since. Ripping the ball out has been a regular drill at practice and Wilks said it’s important to carry that mindset into the games.
“It’s being in traffic, securing the tackle and the next guy trying to get the ball out,” Wilks said.
In a press conference earlier in the season, defensive coordinator Al Holcomb talked about football being a game of inches. It might be a cliché, but Holcomb pointed to proof in Sunday’s loss to the Seahawks.
Late in the second quarter, safety Antoine Bethea almost had an interception but the ball was ruled to have touched the ground on replay review. In the third quarter, cornerback Bené Benwikere nearly saved a fumble from going out of bounds but had a foot out.
“You can look at those things, and literally that’s how close we are to game-changing plays,” Holcomb said.
Turnovers can be finicky, and Holcomb believes the tide will turn.
“I’ve been in the NFL for a while now,” Holcomb said. “I’ve been a part of seasons where things weren’t going right. Philosophically, just staying true to the course, we’ve come out on the other side much better in those situations. We’re going to continue to preach and drill the things that we believe in, and when we come out on the other side, we’re going to be a much better football team for it.”