clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Arizona Cardinals Defensive Philosophy To Bend But Not Break

New, comments
Last year the Arizona Cardinals defense held on in the final seconds of the game to beat the San Francisco 49ers on Monday night football.
Last year the Arizona Cardinals defense held on in the final seconds of the game to beat the San Francisco 49ers on Monday night football.

The Arizona Cardinals defense has faced its fair share of comeback attempts this season.  Games against the Texans, Bears, Giants, and Rams rest in recent memory.

That could be due largely to the conservative plays the offense run once they have they've established a lead in the second half of games.  Minus the Tennessee game, the Cardinals defense has done an admirable job at preventing any comebacks and have solidified themselves as a defense that doesn't fold under pressure. They currently stand at 8-4 and five of their wins have been when the Cardinals led at halftime.

The Cardinals may be relinquishing 257 passing yards a game (30th) to opponents, but they are currently ranked 2nd overall in defensive 3rd down efficiency. They're only allowing 33.1% of 3rd down conversions to opponents and have improved their red zone defense as well — they currently rank 10th in the league at keeping teams from scoring when inside the 20. On Sunday the Vikings only scored twice in the red zone and the Cardinals held the Vikings to 5 of 15 (33%) on 3rd down attempts.  Considering the Vikings usually convert 47% of 3rd down attempts (3rd in NFL), the Cardinals' defensive effort becomes even more impressive. 

The Red Birds cannot get too comfortable though, especially against division rival San Francisco 49ers.

In week 1, the 49ers converted 7-18 (38%) of their 3rd down attempts including 4 on their 80-yard game-winning drive and also scored 2 touchdowns in the red zone. The good news is that San Francisco is currently 29th in the league, only converting 30.2% of their 3rd down attempts — however, they're 8th in red zone offense.  Luckily the Cardinals appear to be ready for the divisional opponent, with revenge being the primary ingredient.

"Just because you can do drills real good doesn’t mean you can play football on Sundays," Dockett said. "That’s been our approach. They beat us the first time and we don’t like losing in the division. We’re coming and they know we’ll be ready. I’m not going to give them any (bulletin) board talk or anything. But they know we’re coming."

The Cardinals take their 5-1 road record to San Francisco to take on the 49ers on ESPN's Monday night football. The Cardinals have improved on the national stage (2-1) and a win on Monday would clinch the NFC West for a second consecutive year and add further fuel to the 49ers rivalry.