clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Arizona Cardinals defense should pick up where they left off, despite scheme change

Football Outsiderrs talks about the Cardinals new defensive scheme and likes their chance to continue to be a dominant defense.

NFL: Los Angeles Chargers at Arizona Cardinals Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Every year SB Nation is fortunate enough to do a question and answer session with the fine folks over at Football Outsiders.

They are the original analytics site, that takes a deeper look at the game of football from a number of angles.

Well, this year for the Cardinals much is changing, new head coach, new coaching staff, new quarterback, new offensive and defensive schemes.

That gave us plenty to talk about with FO.

Through this week we have looked at or will look at:

Mike McCoy and Sam Bradford?

David Johnson’s expectations?

Offensive line improvements?

Does the new defensive scheme help or hurt Chandler Jones?

How will the new zone schemes work with the Cardinals?

Today, how will one of the best defenses based on DVOA look with big scheme changes?

ROTB: How do you see the Cardinals’ switch to a 4-3 affecting the defense overall? More specifically, how will it affect Chandler Jones and the pass rush?

Carl Yedor: There is obviously going to be an adjustment period as players take on slightly different responsibilities moving forward. With that in mind, there might be a little bit of a drop off initially, though with the amount of turnover on defense, that was already likely going to happen. That makes it a little more difficult to pin it on the defensive scheme itself, but at the same time, Arizona has had one of the best defenses in the league for years. A lot of key talent (like Jones and Patrick Peterson) is still around, meaning that there’s only so far the defense can fall. Since 2012, the lowest Arizona has finished in defensive DVOA is seventh, which is pretty darn good if you ask me.

Jones will continue to make an impact regardless of whether he is in a 3-4 or a 4-3. He’ll be lining up with his hand on the ground a decent amount, but in clear passing situations, he’s going to be rushing the quarterback. After all, the guy had 17 sacks. He’s only 28, so I wouldn’t worry about any age-related decline yet. He’ll be his normal fearsome self. Robert Nkemdiche should benefit from not being in Bruce Arians’ doghouse anymore and has been showing out in camp (his recent injury notwithstanding). Haason Reddick’s role is changing a bit, but with how much Steve Wilks likes to blitz, the former Temple Owl should have chances to get after the quarterback as well. Carolina settled in right behind Arizona in pass defense DVOA last season, so I wouldn’t worry about the scheme change too much. Losing Josh Mauro, Frostee Rucker, and Karlos Dansby hurts, but that has less to do with a changing scheme than natural personnel turnover.

If Wilks and defensive coordinator can produce like they did in Carolina, then there won’t be much, if any falloff, but with the personnel turnover, there are still some questions for the Cardinals heading into 2018.