While coach Kliff Kingsbury has kept his offensive vision under wraps, defensive coordinator Vance Joseph has not been shy about his plan on the other side of the ball.
Joseph has expressed multiple times his intent to play an attacking 3-4 base defense in 2019, anchored by an array of blitzes up front and man-to-man press coverage in the secondary.
That plan came together, though, with the idea that All-Pro Patrick Peterson would be locking down one of the cornerback spots. After news of Peterson’s six-game suspension last week, Joseph was asked on the Coaches’ Chronicle Podcast if his absence would force a schematic adjustment.
“We’re going to stick with our plan,” Joseph said. “We have a plan to dictate on first down, and that’s obviously rushing five guys and playing man coverage. We have guys who are capable. We have great rushers. We have great cover corners. The plan won’t change. Obviously every game plan you have is different, but our mindset won’t change.”
Robert Alford, who was signed to a lucrative three-year contract in the offseason, will be the de facto No. 1 cornerback until Peterson returns. The competition is on for the No. 2 cornerback and nickelback roles.
Tramaine Brock, David Amerson and rookie Byron Murphy are the three main candidates. Brock and Amerson have experience as starters, while the Cardinals have high hopes for Murphy, who they chose with the first pick of the second round.
Joseph believes his defensive philosophy is best executed when the lineup includes two upper-tier pass-rushers and a pair of effective cover corners. Chandler Jones and Terrell Suggs are expected to consistently get after the quarterback, but the absence of Peterson leaves a question mark on the back end.
“Obviously not having your best players, that’s going to affect you in some way,” Joseph said. “He’s a top-5 or top-10 corner in this league. He’s been a Pro Bowler for the last seven, eight years. So that makes a difference, but we have to move on. We’re going to support Pat P, but we have three or four guys that are ready to play.”