It's not easy to pull a positive note out of a losing season, but for the Arizona Cardinals their secondary has played considerably well. Granite, they haven't been a shutdown defense in all of 2010. There's been both high and low points throughout the year. If you're going to build a good secondary however, you'd want a true strong safety, a play-making free safety, and two fast and athletic cornerbacks. The Cardinals have all the right makings of a dominant NFL secondary. I can't tell you why they haven't smothered the competition, but I do believe defensive coordinator Bill Davis has something to do with it. There's also a lack of a pass rush that makes life in the secondary difficult for any team. Either way, these four men give hope for the 2011 season:
#24 / Safety / Arizona Cardinals
Oct 12, 1979
North Carolina State
|2010 - Adrian Wilson||15||2||6||2||4||0||74||10||84|
Wilson was selected to the fourth Pro Bowl of his career this past Tuesday after the play he put forth this season. Although Wilson admittedly disagreed with the selection, he and the fans hold increasingly high standards for the ten-year pro. Adrian Wilson has done more for the Arizona Caridnals then most players ever will. At 31 years old and three years left in his deal, he's here to stay. This season hasn't showcased his greatest moments. Considering that the Cardinals have been one of the worst teams in the league, it hasn't shown great moments for most of the team. Fortunately for Wilson, he pushes himself to become better and he keeps himself in phenomenal shape. Since his game isn't built around speed, I see no reason to think his production will decrease drastically in the next few years.We all know what we're getting out of the most beloved Cardinals in franchise history.
#25 / Safety / Arizona Cardinals
Aug 02, 1982
|2010 - Kerry Rhodes||15||1||6||4||174||0||76||11||87|
I don't know what more I can say about the play of Kerry Rhodes in 2010. One of the best moves Rod Graves ever made was trading for Rhodes, regardless of the Antrel Rolle fiasco. In the secondary, he's provided solid coverage while allowing little to no big passing plays this season. What's really amazing is the big plays he's recorded himself. This season Rhodes has been a Johnny-on-the-spot with the interceptions and fumble recoveries he's recorded. He also returned two fumbles to the house in back-to-back weeks earlier this season. At 28 years old and a low-priced contract signed through 2013, he gives the Cardinals defense a valuable asset for the future.
#29 / Cornerback / Arizona Cardinals
Apr 07, 1986
|2010 - Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie||15||0||0||3||86||2||39||2||41|
It's easy to come down hard on DRC after the high expectations that were set for the third year pro earlier this offseason. Many fans expected Rodgers-Cromartie to develop into a shutdown cornerback immediately. 2010 has been a roller coaster ride for DRC, and he hasn't always been strapped in. There were moments when it was tempting to scream through the television after a bonehead play. There were also the moments when he reminded me of his true potential he still holds. In spite of everything DRC has experienced this year, it's not hard to argue that he insert himself into the upper echelon of cornerbacks throughout the NFL. His 16 passes defended ranked eighth in the league. At just 24-years old, it isn't difficult to imagine Rodgers-Cromartie owning the Cardinals starting cornerback position for years to come.
#28 / Cornerback / Arizona Cardinals
Jan 01, 1900
|2010 - Greg Toler||12||1||10||2||66||1||80||6||86|
If there's anything we learned from Greg Toler in just his second season, it's that he is a tackling machine. With a whopping 86 tackles, Toler ranks third among the Cardinals defenders. With his speed and physical play, Toler's potential as starting cornerback for the next 4-5 seasons has fans licking their chops. At times however, he's joined DRC on that same roller coaster ride. Becoming a starter in just two seasons is no easy task to accomplish. The mere fact that he's kept his composure through the midst of a disappointing five-win season tells me that Toler is the real deal. He may not be the flashiest corner in the league, but he's a lunch-pale type player that will get the job done more often then not.
Before this season began, many questioned the abilities of Kerry Rhodes and whether or not he'd be the "model" that Jet's fans claimed he was in New York. He stepped up to the plate in a season filled with agony and delivered a home run to us all. Adrian Wilson was picked to a Pro Bowl despite a "down year" on his part. If you want an example of what Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Greg Toler are capable of, re-watch Saturday's victory over the Cowboys.
I won't sit here an preach that the Cardinals secondary is levels above the rest of the league. Nevertheless, they all give hope of a better year in 2011. With three out of the four defensivebacks still in their twenties, they even provide hope of a better future beyond 2011.