One of the things that can kill a defense is missing tackles. You think you have a play bottled up and then the offensive player keeps going. Coming into the season, defensive coordinator Ray Horton was determined to improve the fundamentals, including the tackling.
Horton accomplished his goal to some extent. The Cardinals made marked improvements in their tackling.
Hit the jump to see by how much.
Using data compiled at Pro Football Focus, we can see how it has gone.
In 2008, Arizona actually had their worst tackling defense. Luckily they had a potent offense to make up for it. They missed a tackle every 8.3 attempts.
In 2009, that rate improved to every 9.8 attempts.
In 2010, they dropped to one missed every 8.4 attempts. I think the eye test gave that away. There were lots of badly missed tackles, by a lot of different players, including guys like Adrian Wilson, who had previously been sure tacklers.
This brings us to 2011. The improved to 10.2 attempts per missed tackle. And if I could go game by game easily, I have a hunch that if we looked at the second half of the season, it would be much better.
Looking just at the rest of the division, the Cardinals were third. The 49ers led the division (not surprisingly) with a miss every 12.8 attempts. Seattle was next at 10.8. The Rams? A miss every 8.2 attempts.
To put things in perspective, looking at the teams considered to have great defenses, the Niners were tops. The Pittsburgh Steelers were at 11.5, the Baltimore Ravens 11.1 and the Houston Texans 10.8.
Give the Cardinals a full season of knowing what they are doing and they should be even better in 2012.
I'll go over individual players tomorrow.
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