Arizona Cardinals 2011 Season Grades: The Defensive Line

We now move to the defensive side of the ball and start to grade it. The offense has been graded very averagely overall. Quarterbacks get a C, running backs get a B, the receivers graded almost perfectly equal at a B, D and F. Tight ends get a C. The offensive line is evenly split between a D and an F.

We would imagine that the defense will get better grades, considering their play the second half of the season. Let us start with the defensive line.

Coming in to the season, the defensive line was expected to be a strength of the team. It was, but it wasn't without some disappointment. But let us start with the good.

The good begins with Calais Campbell, who had a monster season. He had eight sacks and a whopping 72 tackles. That is a very high number for a lineman. He had 13 tackles for losses, an additional 17 hits on QBs and defelcted 10 passes. That's not to mention his blocked field goals on special teams.

Darnell Dockett started out struggling a little with his role in Ray Horton's defense. However, while he was not a Pro Bowler this year, he had an underrated year. With 50 tackles, 3.5 sacks, 10 TFL and 16 QB hits, he was quite disruptive this season.

Tackle Dan Williams started the year out of shape and spent most of the season before his broken arm ended his season on the sideline. With the exception of the game against the 49ers, he did not even see 30 snaps on defense. He did start becoming a force, but it took half to season. The result of his play led to a lot of two DL formations.

The reserves that played were solid contributors. Nick Eason stepped in for Williams and ate space. Rookie David Carter was a surprise. He brought a more athletic style to the tackle position, even when he was drafted projected to play defensive end. He had a sack, a couple of tipped passes and three TFL. Vonnie Holliday did not fill the stat sheet for the season, but made several very good plays in Week 17 after Campbell came out with an ankle injury.

An obvious "A" goes to Campbell. The rest of the group was solid. Only Williams gets a low grade, I would grade him individually at a "D" because of what he was expected to do.

Overall...the line earns an A- in my gradebook. With the early season struggles of the defense on the whole, I struggle to give a solid A, but this is awful close.

Should I have graded the line higher or lower? Let me know what you think.

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