One of the more underrated losses for the Arizona Cardinals is the injury to Deone Bucannon.
The Cardinals pass defense was very, very good in 2016 and one of the reasons, maybe the biggest reason, was Bucannon’s work in coverage in 2016.
PFF: The numbers that made Deone Bucannon one of the best linebackers in coverage last year. pic.twitter.com/yXfbvukViw— Sports Politicen (@sportspoliticen) June 28, 2017
While Bucannon has struggled against the run according to Pro Football Focus, he's been special in coverage:
The Cardinals have exercised their fifth-year option on Deone Bucannon, who has been one of the NFL's top coverage LBs the last two years. pic.twitter.com/QdbCpMJ2OC— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) April 27, 2017
That coverage ability makes his play indispensable, even with his struggles in the run game.
The improvement in coverage for the Cardinals can be traced to the improvements Bucannon has made in coverage, 28th in 2014, 8th in 2015 to 4th in 2016, to go along with the improved pass rush the Cardinals have had.
The growth, the continued improvements will be hard to replicate, whether it be Karlos Dansby or Haason Reddick.
That's why getting Bucannon back is one of the most important offseason storylines to follow.
How soon he comes back could coincide with the Cardinals pass defense rankings.
Hopefully, it is a speedy recovery for the Cardinals pass defense sake.