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Arizona Cardinals Stat Junkie: Adrian Wilson 2009, 2010...2011?

Adrian Wilson is one of the quiet leaders of the Arizona Cardinals defense. During the 2010 decline of the Cardinals defense Wilson's lack of performance became more in question from the fans and media and when asked to describe his play, he added "Like [expletive]".

Wilson's words echoed fan's thoughts. It was clear that Adrian Wilson was holding the defense to higher standards than the five win season and 4th worst defense in the league, all while keeping a secret from the media until the end of the 2010 season. It's no secret now that Wilson played through the 2010 season with a torn hip abductor, which affects lateral movement (side-to-side and backwards) explaining his lack of presence in pass coverage.

The injury occurred in one of Wilson's greatest performances. Adrian Wilson dominated the St. Louis Rams in the 2010 Cardinals season opener racking up two solo tackles, one sack, one field goal block, two interceptions (2010 1st overall draft pick QB Sam Bradford's 1st and 2nd NFL Interceptions), and two passes deflected. The best game of his 2010 season. It would also be the only game that he caught an interception or blocked a field goal.

2010 Season OPP Result ToT Solo AST SACK FF BLK INT TD PD
Week 1 @STL W 17-13 2 2 0 1 0 1 2 0 2
Weeks 2-17 - W-4/L-11 86 74 12 1 0 0 0 0 7

We'll look into Wilson's performance from 2009 and a glimpse into his potential 2011 season after the jump...

Cardinals fans were constantly skeptical that Wilson had suffered some type of injury during the season, others thought that the 31 year old had lost a step after receiving a large contract to remain a Cardinal for the rest of his playing days. There were no injury reports to provide information to the public that there was anything wrong, and Wilson's own words seemed to only add to the questions regarding what the drop in his performance could be from.

When you compare Wilson's 2010 stats to those of 2009, it is hard to tell that he had a down year. He still made the Pro Bowl, and he was ranked as the T-27th overall Defensive Back with players Richard Marshall (CB, CAR), Quintin Mikell (SS, PHI), and Lawyer Milloy (SS, SEA). Wilson was even listed higher than former Cardinal Antrel Rolle (FS, NYG), who ranked T-31st.

2009 ARI 16 74 61 13 2 1 0 5 0 13
2010 ARI 16 88 76 12 2 0 1 2 0 9

But in the film it becomes apparent that in 2010 Wilson was a liability in pass coverage. Wilson was constantly burned through the air giving up huge chunks of yards. The 2010 numbers do shed some light on that due to his decrease in production with three fewer interceptions and four fewer pass deflections. But the stats do not show the number of 3rd and 4th down conversions that were given up due to poor pass coverage.

What numbers back that up? "It’s helpful to compare his performance to last season [2009] when Wilson held opposing quarterbacks to a remarkable 53.0 passer rating, which ranked 7th among all safeties with at least 700 snaps. He did give up 3 TDs in coverage, but also intercepted 5 passes. (Will Brodsky, 2010)"

So now that we know that Wilson was injured, we can start to look to the future and wonder how the change at Defensive Coordinator to Ray Horton will affect Adrian Wilson's performance? We do know that DC Horton coached Pro Bowl SS Troy Polamalu and has a few Super Bowl rings on his fingers. While Polamalu and Wilson are very different players I think that we'll see a whole new level to Wilson with the arrival of Horton, and further I'm even willing to take a guess at Wilsons 2011 stats:

2011 ARI 16 80 66 14 3 1 0 5 1 11

One last thing, if you're wondering if there's anyone who isn't looking forward to Adrian Wilson getting back up to speed, you won't have to look further than Brian Westbrook from this video.