Following the Cardinals' second preseason game against the Dallas Cowboys, fans have been voicing concerns about the net yards Arizona's defense is yielding to opposing quarterbacks, specifically accusing the play of the front seven and their ability to get after the passer. With certain statistics not being tracked, like hurries and hits, it's not always obvious how a defensive line is playing if they're not getting sacks. Thus, it's worth taking a closer look to effectively analyze line play.
Though the team recorded three sacks against Green Bay, not one of them came against Aaron Rodgers or the Packers' first team offense. That's not ideal, but not necessarily condemning, either, especially considering starters on both sides of the ball barely played a full quarter.
Let's find out who, if anyone, has been getting it done.
Calais Campbell, 93, DE/DT
Though he failed to appear on the stat sheet in the game, Campbell's frightening combination of length and strength was on display against the Packers. If anyone is worried about how he's going to look this season, don't be. Green Bay did a good job keeping him out of a few plays with double-team blocks but Campbell held his own and abused single blocks when given the opportunity.
In addition to 3-4 end, Campbell played base end in 3-3-5/4-3 looks and defensive tackle in the 2-4-5 nickel package.
John Abraham, 53, OLB
On his second snap with the team, Abraham hurried the quarterback with an outside speed rush that resulted in a Patrick Peterson interception. Later, he recorded a strip sack on Graham Harrell, again with an outside speed move. Not bad for only playing five snaps. He is who we thought he was, and should provide the pass-rushing spark the team has been lacking.
Ronald Talley, 96, DE/DT
And we're to the back-ups. Talley played a ton in this game, first subbing in on the defense's third snap of the day and staying in almost to the end. He made good on the opportunity, playing both the run and the pass well throughout the game. He was able to fend off double teams, opening the play up for linebackers. Not one dimensional, Talley plays with a good mix of speed and power, occasionally splitting gaps to disrupt plays in the pocket while other times holding his own at the point of attack or driving blockers backwards towards the ballcarrier.
I counted four hurries and a QB hit in addition to a couple run stops. It was an excellent day for Talley. He spent most of the first quarter, against Green Bay's starters, being double-teamed by their left guard and center, but held up very well in run defense. The pass-rushing came later, mostly against back-ups.
Talley played defensive end in the 3-4, both DE and DT in the 4-3 and 3-3-5 packages, and defensive tackle in the 2-4-5. He stood out in the preseason last year as well, and should be in the mix to make the team.
Frostee Rucker, 98, DE/DT
The Cardinals' off-season moves to shore up depth on the defensive line appear to be paying off. Rucker only came up with one pressure in the game but made his presence felt against the run, shedding blocks and fending off double teams at the point of attack. He had an impressive move at the end of the first quarter, blasting through the offensive line with ease only to completely whiff on the runningback. It was a good outing for him otherwise. Though one-dimensional he seems a good fit as a run-stopping down lineman in the Cardinals' scheme.
Rucker played defensive end in the 4-3 and 3-4, as well as defensive tackle in the 2-4-5.
David Carter, 79, NT/DE
After taking the opening snap at nose tackle, Carter was promptly subbed out and didn't reappear until the defense's goal line stand later in the first quarter. He was in for quite a few plays, from the first snap to the final one. Though not a sterling performance, Carter did well for the most part. He typically held his own against the run except for a couple plays where he was blocked out entirely by double teams and at least one where he regrettably lost his feet. He did a good job of disengaging from blocks and getting to the run when he wasn't being double-teamed at the point of attack and added three hurries in the passing game.
Carter needs to be more consistent when run at, but had a good day overall. He opened the game as a 3-4 nose tackle but took most of his snaps at 3-4 and 3-3-5 defensive end as well as 2-4-5 defensive tackle.
Padric Scott, 67, NT
A surprise appearance in the first quarter, albeit with the second team, Scott saw a decent amount of action all through the game. He handled double-teams well and stood his ground at the point of attack. The man is country strong and it translates to the field.
Scott didn't just eat up blocks, either. He was able to disengage and pursue the ballcarrier, including an impressive stop at the beginning of the fourth quarter where he powered through the center to drag the runningback down from behind for a short gain. Though he showed little in the way of a pass-rushing skillset, expected from an undrafted rookie out of Florida A&M, his raw physical traits were too much to handle with single blocks and Scott got some penetration in the pocket to go along with his stout run defense.
Scott played nose tackle in 3-4 looks and defensive tackle in the 2-4-5. He showed enough to earn some time against starters for further evaluation.
Sadly, that sums up the success stories. Due to the limited number of snaps for the starters there wasn't a whole lot to glean from re-watching the game. Look for an article on the players who struggled and those that need to show more before we move on to the Dallas game.
Remember that this analysis is subjective; if you saw something differently, share it in the comments!