Arizona Cardinals pass rush versus Green Bay, pt. 2: Who needs to step up

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

We've covered the stand-outs from the game. Now, let's take a look at who's struggling to get it done.

With our final look at the Cardinals' pass rush in their Packers pre-season match-up, it's time for the call-outs. We know who was ready to play, now let's find out who wasn't.

Darnell Dockett, 90, DT

It's rare that one player manages to play so poorly that he brings down those around him, but that was exactly the case for Darnell Dockett in Green Bay. His lackadaisical approach resulted in single blockers completely sealing him out of almost every play he was involved in, and left additional linemen free to pick up Calais Campbell. He came up with a play or two in the run game but, surrounded by a bunch of guys fighting for their jobs, Dockett looked lazy.

What exactly does this mean? Probably nothing. More than likely, he's just taking it easy because this ain't his first rodeo, so to speak. Still, Dock made it known he was unhappy in a two-gap, block-consuming role. It would be gratifying, as a fan, to see what all the fuss was about this off-season. Beyond that, the Cardinals probably need more consistency out of Dockett than they've gotten in the last couple years (according to ProFootballFocus, he finished the 2012 season with a grade of -16.9). So far, he has yet to show it.

Matt Shaughnessy, 91, DE/OLB

Whether Shaughnessy lined up with his hand in the dirt or as a stand-up rusher had no apparent correlation to where he lined up on the field: either directly over top or out wide of the offensive tackle. He rushed the passer for most of his snaps but dropped into shallow zones with tight ends a few times. If this is the plan for Shaughnessy going into the season, Todd Bowles might need to come up with a new plan.

It's not that he was entirely ineffective. He did a pretty good job getting to the run and sticking with his man in coverage until the receiver transitioned into someone else's zone. As a pass-rusher, he showed solid technique at times, using length and counters to get into the pocket. However, he just doesn't appear to be well-suited to his current role. A sluggish first step retards his effectiveness as a blitzer and is compounded by below-average change of direction and closing speed. This was highlighted by one play around the nine minute mark in the first quarter where he came unblocked after the quarterback and failed to close quickly enough to generate any kind of pressure. His outside speed-rush (see: Abraham, John) is non-existent. Short, five-yard zones are the limit of where you want him to be dropping in coverage, though that is pretty typical for outside linebackers in the 3-4.

If Shaughnessy can be an unflappable run defender he can help the Cardinals this year, but don't expect him to add much to the team's sack totals.

Zach Nash, 59, OLB

Nash got a lot of snaps against Green Bay but struggled to make a positive impact. He added very little as a pass-rusher, struggled to disengage from blocks and got driven out of the play when run at. Limited athletically, Nash lacks quickness and is probably on the wrong side of the bubble, even as a special teamer.

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Lorenzo Alexander flashed some speed on an edge rush in the first quarter but wasn't on the field enough to leave much of an impression. Sam Acho didn't get many snaps, nor did he do anything of significance with his time aside from recovering John Abraham's forced fumble. One of the most up-and-down players from the game, Kenny Rowe showed an adequate first step and speed for an edge rusher, even flashing some technique with spins and inside counter moves. He finished the game with a couple hurries but utterly failed to contain the edge when Vince Young started to scramble, and he needs to show more consistency with his tackling. Finally, Jonathan Mathis obliterated his blocker and came up with a great quarterback hit with his first snap in the game. Mathis hasn't been with the team very long but could be a practice squad candidate if he continues to flash consistently.

Many readers had strong opinions about how the defense looked against Dallas. That analysis should be out by the San Diego game, and should reveal a little more about what to expect from the starters this season as they saw more time on the field.

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