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Wilson Believes Communication is the Key on Defense

Adrian Wilson celebrates after recording a sack during the 2008 NFC Championship game against the Eagles, which seems like a lifetime ago considering the Cardinals current struggles

The bottom has fallen out on the Cardinals’ defense.  Arizona allows 249 passing yards per game (25th) and 146.5 rushing yards per game (31st).  They’ve allowed 319 points in just 11 games this year after giving up 325 points in 16 games last year.  Yes, the defense lost Antrel Rolle and Karlos Dansby and a number of other parts, but they retained Pro Bowlers such as Darnell Dockett, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, and Adrian Wilson.  Also, they picked up a number of quality veterans such as Joey Porter and Kerry Rhodes.  Such a total collapse is unwarranted.

While participating in a conference call yesterday (12/1) with reporters in St. Louis, Adrian Wilson offered a thought:

We’re not playing together — it’s obvious.  We’re not sure where guys are supposed to be when we’ve been running the same calls for 10 weeks or so.  We have to believe in each other, and we have to believe that that person is going to be in that spot.  We talk about it all the time, and it’s gotten to the point now where it’s late in the season.  November’s done, now it’s December, and we have to get it done.

Perhaps it’s all the moving parts this year that has the defense disjointed.  Including Rhodes and Porter mentioned above, Greg Toler, Daryl Washington, and Paris Lenon were all new starters at linebacker and in the secondary, two units where good communication is particularly important.  While that may seem like a long list, it probably isn’t that unusual in a league with such high turnover year to year.  Look at the Patriots’ defense.  In addition, the defensive line basically had no turnover with the exception of rookie Dan Williams.  So yes, the Cardinals have new starters working together, but that’s no excuse for a defense to completely fall apart.  There has to more to it.

Finding the answer will no doubt be a task for the off-season.  First, it’s really hard to imagine that defensive coordinator Bill Davis will be around next season.  In addition, Arizona may even consider switching from their 3-4 scheme, especially with the linebackers they have.  The Cardinals, as of now, don’t have the play-makers at linebacker necessary to play an effective 3-4.  Finally, the Cardinals will have to take a hard look at a few big-time underachievers such as Calais Campbell.  Campbell took an enormous step backwards this season, even though he’s dealt with some injury troubles.  Also, DRC has taken a tremendous step backwards this season, but it’s highly unlikely he’s going anywhere.


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