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Cardinals’ Pass Rushers Must Step Up Their Game

The Cardinals' defense needs Calais Campbell and others to make more plays, starting this Sunday against the Saints

With Max Hall getting his first NFL start, the defense must get after the opposing quarterback now more than ever to help lighten the rookie’s load.  A number of stand out players must return to form after getting off to a slow start this season.  Here’s a look at some disappointing performances so far.

  • DT, Darnell Dockett16 tackles, 15 solo, 1 sack, 2 tackles for a loss.  While Dockett has a decent number of solo tackles, just one sack is not going to cut it.  Perhaps we can cut him some slack considering he’s getting double teamed a lot, but Darnell has to find a way to get to the quarterback regardless.  Super talents get double teamed and keep their numbers up, so more is expected of him than others.
  • DE, Calais Campbell16 tackles, 14 solo, 1 sack, 1 tackle for a loss.  The Cardinals expected big things from Campbell this season, especially after Campbell’s 7.0 sack performance last season.  Like Dockett, however, Campbell hasn’t been getting to the quarterback enough.  Unlike Dockett, Campbell does not draw nearly as many double teams.  There’s no indication that Campbell is injured, so his regression is a bit of a mystery at this point.
  • OLB, Joey Porter14 tackles, 13 solo, 1 sack, 2 tackles for a loss, 2 forced fumbles.  While Porter’s forced fumbles are nice, one was meaningless in a loss to the Falcons and Matt Ryan dropped the ball more than Porter forced it out.  The veteran is having a lot of trouble even getting close to the quarterback and had just one QB pressure last week, which is unacceptable for an OLB in a 3-4 scheme.  As of now, the move to get Porter, considering the money they paid him, is looking like a dubious transaction.
  • OLB, Clark Haggans20 tackles, 16 solo, 1 sack, 0 tackles for a loss.  Like Porter, Haggans at OLB is such a crucial play making position in a 3-4 defense.  Also like Porter, Haggans isn’t getting the job done and is struggling to make plays.  It seems that age may finally be catching up to Haggans.

A total of 4.0 sacks from the defense’s top pass rushing positions (DE, both OLBs, and DT) is absolutely horrible.  This defense can’t survive in a 3-4 if Haggans and Porter don’t improve their play, especially considering the Cards are without ILB Gerald Hayes as a run stopper.  Although Paris Lenon has been a nice surprise picking up the slack inside, rookie ILB Daryl Washington was benched against San Diego after having a really tough time through 43 snaps.  Hopefully, Washington can bounce back with a nice effort this week.  Unfortunately, things won’t get any easier for the defense against New Orleans, but Porter, Haggans, Dockett, and Campbell have to generate better production than in recent weeks.

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