The Arizona Cardinals suffered a big loss to their defense when Tyrann Mathieu was lost for the rest of the season with a torn ACL, but all is not lost. The loss of Mathieu, though it will be felt, should not change the Cardinals' postseason chances.
Sure, he was second in the team in tackles and tied for the team lead in interceptions. Yes, you could say he is the heart and soul of the defense, but the defensive secondary is deep.
How will the defense adjust?
Bruce Arians explained, speaking to the media on Monday.
"Jerraud (Powers) will move into nickel," he said. "We'll see what roster moves we make, if we make any. Tony (Jefferson) played well. D.J. (Swearinger) played well. Hopefully, we'll get Rashad (Johnson) back and just keep on moving."
Powers played all last season in the slot, and he was one of the league's most effective players there. Tony Jefferson thus far has been a part-time player this season, coming in for nickel packages. He will presumably start and play most, if not all snaps once Rashad Johnson is healthy.
Since Powers will now play in the slot, Justin Bethel will now get significant playing time. Powers will play all snaps, playing outside in base sets, but when he slides inside, Bethel will come in.
Arians said Swearinger will have an increased role. He will presumably become the seventh DB in their speed coverage packages. Bethel has had that role for much of the season.
The safety position is in good hands with Johnson and Jefferson. The slot will be handled well by Powers. Bethel was solid in his starts at cornerback in place of Powers. Arians was very pleased with how he played. Bethel is expected to take on a starting role next season and there has been so much talk about his talent and ability at the position. Now he has a chance to play a significant role in the final two regular season games and the postseason.
The big issue now is there is not really anyone left in terms of depth. They still have Corey White on the bench, but no other safeties, save Deone Bucannon, who has been playing all season at linebacker.
The Cardinals defense will be fine without Mathieu, but they cannot suffer anymore injuries.