Every year Football Outsiders produces one of the must buy analytics and information based books of the year. The 2017 Football Outsiders Almanac is available for purchase now and Football Outsiders was kind enough to provide us some answers on the 2016 Arizona Cardinals and look forward to the 2017.
Over the next couple of days, we will get into all five questions we asked Football Outsiders and how they answered them, starting with a look at the Arizona Cardinals pass rushing duo.
Where does the duo of Chandler Jones and Markus Golden rank in terms of pass rushers in the NFL?
Football Outsiders Bryan Knowles
Jones and Golden combined for 56 hurries last season, which is very solid, if not particularly record-breaking. Of course, that's partially a matter of a lack of opportunities; Calais Campbell led the team with 29 hurries, so there were times when Golden or Jones were simply beaten to the punch! The Cardinals were the only team to have three pass rushers with more than 27 hurries last season and the only team to have three defenders in the top 20 QB knockdowns. That's a testament to both the skill of Jones, Golden and Campbell and the aggressive nature of the Arizona defense in general; they sent extra rushers 38.2% of the time, so it's not at all surprising that they racked up tons of quarterback disruptions.
I think I would have called the pair of Campbell and Jones one of the top three pass-rushing duos in the league, alongside Brandon Graham and Fletcher Cox in Philadelphia and Cameron Wake and Ndamukong Suh in Miami. Golden's 12.5 sacks and 30 QB knockdowns last season were a bit of a coming out party for him, and he was a defeat machine, with 27. Before I place him right up there in the upper tier, like some of our alumni have, I want to see how he performs with Campbell out of the picture, allowing opposing offenses to pay more attention to him and perhaps limiting the space he has to work with. Ranking aside, pairing him with Jones is certainly a hell of a lot of fun to watch on tape.