The Arizona Cardinals have a very solid defensive rotation heading into the 2022 regular season. Although their offense is much more talented than their defense, they still have an above-average defense. Arizona has a very solid balance of young talent and skilled veterans on the defensive side of the ball. Despite the Cardinals being in their fair share of high-scoring games throughout the season, this is not a slight to their defense, but rather just a result of having a very high-scoring offense.
2021 Defensive Ranks
The Arizona Cardinals‘ defense fell right outside of the top ten last year in many rankings. Despite this, they were not too far out of the top ten and were generally considered to be a top 12 defense last season. They ranked 11th in total yards allowed, 16th in yards allowed per play, 7th in takeaways, 7th in passing yards allowed, 25th in passing touchdowns allowed, 19th in interceptions, 20th in rushing yards allowed, and 3rd in rushing touchdowns allowed. Their defensive rankings were kind of all over the place last year, and as a result of this, it makes it difficult to get an overall gauge of how talented the defense is when compared to the rest of the league. There are many categories in which they rank in front of a good majority of the league, while in others they are near the bottom. Coming into the 2022 season, Sports Naut has the Cardinals defense ranked as the 23rd best in the league. It is clear that there is some work to be done on the defensive side of the ball, however, with a majority of the Cardinals salary cap going to the offense, this may be easier said than done.
The Arizona Cardinals run a 3-4 defense, meaning that they only have three defensive linemen on the field in almost all of their defensive packages. The three starters for the Cardinals’ defensive line heading into the season are J.J. Watt, Rashard Lewis, and Zach Allen. Watt is one of the previously mentioned skilled veterans that is one of the big leaders for the Cardinals’ defense. Despite Watt being a little over the hill compared to his prime with the Houston Texans, he is still an incredible edge rusher along with a perfect leader for a team like the Cardinals.
The Arizona Cardinals‘ linebacking core is led by Isiah Simmons. Simmons is one of the best young defensive players in the league. He is incredible in coverage and has put his mindblowing athleticism on full display already. Along with Simmons, Dennis Gardeck, Zaven Collins, and Markus Golden make up the rest of the linebacking core for the Cardinals.
Corners & Safeties
The final area of the defense to cover are the corners and safeties. Buddha Baker is a player that has turned heads early in his career. It is clear that he and Simmons will be the young stars to lead the defense once Watt retires. Both have extremely bright futures and have proven themselves as leaders up to this point in their careers. Along with Baker in the secondary, he is joined by, Byron Murphey Jr., Jalen Thompson, and Marco Wilson.