Kliff Kingsbury and Kyler Murray seem to be clicking on all cylinders right now but the defense continues to be the biggest concern through the first six weeks of the season.
This is the second week in a row where Vance Joseph’s defense allowed their opponents to get back in the game, after having a two possession lead.
A lot of the blame can go on GM Steve Keim, considering the lack of talent on the defense. At the same time, Vance Joseph’s defensive game plan has not worked at all since his arrival here in Arizona.
Take a look at the Cardinals’ defensive performance in their first preseason game against the Chargers because it is exactly how they are performing in the regular season. In this game, both Patrick Peterson and Robert Alford were the starters. Backup QB Tyrod Taylor and RB Austin Ekeler ran over the defense. Cardinals forced a fumble on the first drive but the Chargers were rolling on the offense before and after that play. Then TE Andrew Vollert went uncovered for a huge 25-yard catch and run.
Are these not the same struggles the Cardinals are dealing with right now?
They are allowing 132.8 rush yards per game, which is seventh-worst in the NFL. Their pass defense is currently the third-worst in the NFL, allowing an average 281.2 passing yards. The Cardinals are the worst at covering tight ends, allowing a combined 46 catches for 599 yards and seven touchdown to them.
The Cardinals have given up 599 yards to tight ends -- 102 more than the second-highest team, the Tampa Bay Bucs.— Josh Weinfuss (@joshweinfuss) October 14, 2019
We have seen a lot bad things with the Cardinals defense that goes beyond the horrific stats. At some points during games, Jordan Hicks was tasked to cover a wide receiver. No matter who the Cardinals assign to cover tight ends, they are either left wide open or poorly covered. Communication issues seems to be a constant on the defense every week.
Their cornerbacks are also lining up farther away from the receivers than normal, playing more zone than man coverage. This is why opposing teams are gashing their secondary, getting easy yards and moving down the field with ease.
The defensive front is not generating consistent pass rush either, despite having future hall of famers in Chandler Jones and Terrell Suggs. Joseph needs to figure out a way to better utilize his players to their strengths because I don’t ever want to see Jones in coverage again like we saw a few weeks ago.
It is hard to not put blame on their defensive coordinator considering the lack of production from the defense. Just looking at the Broncos (Joseph’s former team), defensive ends Derek Wolfe and DeMarcus Walker are more productive now than they ever were with him.
All I can say for that is coaching does matter and Joseph has not done a really good job in preparing for opponents every week.
Byron Murphy was one of the top man-coverage cornerbacks in college last season. With Patrick Peterson returning from suspension today, hopefully Joseph feels more confident in his defense now to go in man coverage.
We know this defense needs an infusion of talent but that will not happen until next offseason. Corrections needs to be made but every week the problems remain. For now, the Cardinals need to hope that the return of Peterson will be the spark this defense needs.