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Patrick Peterson's Presence Could Return Vance Joseph To His Roots

Cardinals defensive coordinator relies on good cornerbacks to play man coverage

Defensive coordinator Vance Joseph is pleased to get CB Patrick Peterson back this week.
Defensive coordinator Vance Joseph is pleased to get CB Patrick Peterson back this week.

After Vance Joseph was hired to be the Cardinals' defensive coordinator in January, he laid out his ideal schematic philosophy, which centered on press-man coverage and regular blitzing.

For it to work optimally, he needed two talented edge-rushers and two shutdown cornerbacks.

While outside linebackers Chandler Jones and Terrell Suggs have combined for 8.5 sacks and six forced fumbles, the Cardinals have been missing the coverage portion without Patrick Peterson and Robert Alford.

That could change on Sunday with the return of Peterson from his six-game suspension. Alford remains out with a broken leg, but Joseph believes rookie Byron Murphy has progressed enough to satisfy the personnel needs of the scheme.

"I think we do have two corners," Joseph said. "We can allow those guys to lock up their guys and bring more pressure."

The Cardinals' pass defense has been poor this season, allowing 8.5 yards per attempt and 16 touchdowns without an interception. Opposing quarterbacks have a combined passer rating of 121.8 against them.

Joseph did not believe the cornerback shortage hampered his play-calling through six games – "I had great trust in (Tramaine) Brock and (Kevin Peterson) and all those guys who played," he said – but the addition of Peterson is an unquestioned boost.

According to Pro Football Focus, the Cardinals have played primarily zone coverages -- Cover 2, Cover 3, Cover 4 and Cover 6 -- about 53 percent of the time this season.

Joseph's hallmark is aggressiveness, and an improved secondary could allow him to push the envelope.

"We're going to call the game to win every week, and the guys like that," Joseph said. "They don't want to be a dormant defense. They want to be an attacking style. That's my personality, that's our defensive personality, so that's how we're going to call it."