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Cardinals Need More Pressure

The Cardinals made a great leap forward with their pass-rush last season, finishing first in the NFL with 48 sacks. Markus Golden had 12½, Chandler Jones had 11 and Calais Campbell added eight. This year, they have only 13 through seven games, which is tied for 22nd in the NFL, and it’s easy to figure out why.

The Cardinals made a great leap forward with their pass-rush last season, finishing first in the NFL with 48 sacks.

Markus Golden had 12½, Chandler Jones had 11 and Calais Campbell added eight.

This year, they have only 13 through seven games, which is tied for 22nd in the NFL, and it's easy to figure out why. While Jones has eight sacks and is playing at a high level, Golden tore his ACL in Week 4 and is done for the season, while Campbell is now with the Jaguars.

Campbell leads the NFL in sacks with 10, which is seven more than the Cardinals' entire defensive line. The Cardinals are struggling on third downs, and the lack of pressure on quarterbacks is a main contributor.

According to Pro Football Focus, the Cardinals had a 38 percent pressure rate last season, which was the third-highest in the NFL. This season, they have registered a 32 percent pressure rate, which is 26th in the NFL.

In the past, the team has been able to make up for the lack of four-man rush with devastating blitzes. However, the Cardinals are only getting pressure 39 percent of the time on blitzes, per PFF, which is the 10th-lowest rate in the NFL.

Jones is the only player consistently around the quarterback, and if that continues, the Cardinals' defense will continue to operate at less-than-optimal capacity. Second-year lineman Robert Nkemdiche finally showed some impressive flashes against the Rams, and he may be the best hope for improvement moving forward.

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