Arizona Cardinals: Keys to Having a Top-10 Defense in 2012
In 2011, the Arizona Cardinals and their fans experienced something that they have not seen in a while...a good defense.
Arizona had players like Karlos Dansby and Antrel Rolle on their roster back in the Warner era, which made some people believe that the Cardinals' defense was actually decent.
Even with them, that defense was terrible, and they relied on the offense to put up 30 points a game.
With players like Kurt Warner and Anquan Boldin now gone, the tides have completely turned. Arizona has a fairly new defensive coordinator and a young defense.
After finishing in the top 10 in nearly every major defensive category in the second half of the 2011 season, the Cardinals' defense gave fans something to look forward to.
Several players have been added to the defense and the current players are only getting better. Featured over the next few slides are four things that Arizona will have to do if they want to have a top-10 defense in 2012.
Re-Sign Calais Campbell
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Defensive End Calais Campbell was a big part of the Cardinals' success on the defensive side of the ball last season.
While starting in all 16 games, Campbell recorded 72 tackles, eight sacks, an interception and two forced fumbles. He now has 21 sacks over the past three years.
Arizona used their franchise tag on him and have since been trying to work out a new contract. Signing Calais Campbell to a long-term deal should be their top priority, as they should not want to make it an issue going into the season.
Get to the Quarterback
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With the blitz-happy scheme that defensive coordinator Ray Horton likes to run, getting to the quarterback is something that Arizona did quite well in 2011.
With players like Sam Acho and Daryl Washington only getting better, this total should go up in 2012.
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The Cardinals' front office has done a great job over the past two years of putting together a solid defense (on paper). Now it is up to the players themselves, along with strength and conditioning coach, John Lott.
Corner back Greg Toler, safety Kerry Rhodes and defensive tackle Dan Williams all missed significant time due to injury last season. Pro Bowl safety Adrian Wilson also played despite tearing his bicep.
If Arizona has these three players back and the rest of them can manage to stay healthy, then having a top-10 defense is not out of the question.
Make Use of Depth
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An excuse often used to bail out a defense is the offense. If the offense cannot stay on the field, then stamina becomes an issue for the defenders.
Arizona added several decent players on the defensive side of the ball, specifically at defensive back. It is now Ray Horton’s job to put them all to use.
Players like Nick Eason, David Carter, Jamell Fleming and William Gay should all have significant roles whether they end up starting or not. This will ensure that the defense does not wear down quickly as the game goes on.