A recent article in the Arizona Republic about the Cardinals defense in their week 1 matchup with the Rams compared to right now brings up some good points about the Defense. In that week 1 victory, the Defense forced three Interceptions from Sam Bradford, they also got two sacks in on him (along with several hits), and a blocked Field Goal by Adrian Wilson (who was outstanding in that game). Overall, the Rams were held to 325 yards of offense, Bradford was also 32 of 55 passing for only 253 yards (4.6 yards per attempt) and one Touchdown along with the three Picks. Besides his game against the Lions where the Rams were blown out and Bradford threw two Picks it was his worst game of the impressive rookie season he has had so far. But since then, the Defense has a whole has tailed off badly.
Currently, the Cardinals rank 31st in the NFL giving up 29 points per game, and 29th in giving up 395.8 total yards per game. The Run Defense is 31st in the NFL giving up 146.5 yards, and the Pass Defense is ranked 25th in giving up 249.3 yards per game. As a whole, the Defense has been absolutely awful since the game against Brett Favre and the Vikings where the Vikings overcame a 14 point deficit with under five minutes left in the game, and Brett Favre threw for a career high 446 yards (most of those yards also came in the 4th Quarter and Overtime).
The Defense has also been unable to generate a consistent pass rush, players have been out of position, tackles have been missed, coverage has been poor, and veteran leaders like Joey Porter, Adrian Wilson, Darnell Dockett, and Gerald Hayes have underperformed. Some of the young players that were expected to have big years like Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (following a Pro Bowl year) and Calais Campbell have also been a disappointment. The scheme, and coaching by second year Defensive Coordinator Billy Davis has also been criticized, and many fans are calling for him to be fired. Some young players have played well though, Greg Toler has been good for most of the season in his first year as a starter, rookies Daryl Washington and Dan Williams have played well, and Alan Branch has been solid after moving from Nose Tackle to Defensive End.
So, what happened? In the article, Kerry Rhodes (who has been a good pickup this season) said that the Defense as a whole lost its Swagger that it had coming into the season. Maybe Billy Davis has just been outcoached. Maybe the players that the Defense lost (Karlos Dansby, Antrel Rolle, Bertrand Berry, Chike Okeafor, Bryant McFadden, Ralph Brown, etc) had a bigger impact than we expected. Maybe the struggling offense is putting the defense in too many bad positions that they aren't good enough to overcome. Maybe the players as a whole just aren't as good as we thought they were coming into the season (This can also be said about the Cowboys).
One thing I think is that the Defense has mentally been unable to overcome the loss against Minnesota, and they still haven't been able to get it turned around. Before that game, there were some flashes of being a good Defense in the games besides the one against the Rams (Most of the first Seahawks game and the Buccaneers game, along with the game against the Saints.) but since then they have just been unable to stop anything. The Defense has gone from a force field that flickers on and off at times into a giant wall made of tissue paper that is penetrated by any object that slams into it.
So, what do you think is the cause of the defensive struggles this year?