Alright folks you probably know the deal by now but just in case let’s do this one last time....
I wanted to try a new exercise where the fans could assemble the all-time team for the Arizona Cardinals in the days leading up to a much anticipated training camp.
Today’s focus: D-Line, D-Line, D-Line...
Here’s how it works...for those who haven’t been following.
You take ONE game on a neutral field, pick the best player and go position by position, with Cards fans voting to assemble the greatest game-day roster of Arizona Cardinals in franchise history, period.
Again: Here’s a few of the rules and guidelines
-All players must have played for the Arizona Cardinals and players must be remembered as Cardinals foremost, or for a majority of their career (aka saying “Boomer Esiason is the greatest Cardinal quarterback ever” because he was a great QB doesn’t count)
-No impossible offensive alignments (ex. putting four tight ends on the field or finding 6 wide receivers)
-Talent wins over longevity (the goal is to find the team you’d take to win in a game) but that doesn’t mean players who played for the Cardinals forever shouldn’t be counted...
-St. Louis Cardinals do count, and if there’s an argument to be made for a Chicago Cardinal they can be included, too.
For today’s list, there’s a few options.
Do you run a 3-4 or a 4-3 system? The Cardinals for the bulk of their history ran a 4-3, but in recent times have excelled in a 3-4. However, I think that the easy way around this is to look at players who were on the INTERIOR of the defensive line and then those who worked on the EXTERIOR or edge rather than trying to figure out defensive tackles/defensive ends/outside linebackers and in any case, almost all defenses will have only 4 down linemen. That will allow for 3 linebackers knowing that one of the edge rushers can be an edge DE/Outside linebacker no matter the scheme.
With that, let’s begin:
Defensive Lineman (4) 2 Edge Rushers, 2 Defensive Tackles
Simeon Rice (1996-2000)
There are some who might argue Rice is more of a Buccaneer than a Cardinal, but I’d disagree given that he holds multiple records for his time in Arizona and while he was one of today’s modern players in an age where the run was needed to be stopped to be on the field, he produced.
79 games, 177 solo tackles, 51.5 sacks (122 for his career) he played for only 5 seasons for Arizona but ended up 2nd on the team in sacks.
Wow. Rice sadly never made All-Pro until he went to Tampa and might become another “maybe” player for many similar to Anquan Boldin if he had stayed his whole career but I honestly think that shouldn’t matter. He needs to be treated as an all-time Cardinals great.
Freddie Joe Nunn (1985-1993)
What list would be complete without the all-time Cardinals sack leader?
Freddie Joe Nunn acquired 66.5 sacks and a crazy 439 tackles during his time as a Cardinal, and while he’s hardly mentioned amongst Cardinals greats, much less an NFL great like Simeon Rice, that record still stands today and he deserves his due.
Bertrand Berry (2004-2009)
That’s one heck of a career in the desert, and it’s part of what defensive end Bertrand Berry brought with him off the edge in helping that 2008 team get to the big dance. A still popular voice on the radio, Berry took his career to a whole new level in the desert.
Calais Campbell (2008-2016)
Calais is a case of a player who plays so long that while not being at maybe a “dominant” level they certainly surpassed “very good” to be a consistent and reliably “great” player. In his 8 years in the desert, Campbell racked up a total of 496 tackles and 56.5 sacks, tremendous numbers up there with the best of them. He might be in Jacksonville now but his legacy and larger than life personality lives on.
Chandler Jones (2016-Present)
Some might not be ready to crown Jones yet, but I think there’s two reasons that it’s not too soon to put him on this list.
First of all, in just 3 years with the team, he already has a whopping 41 sacks, a faster pace than any of the other players on this list. And secondly, given that pace and his elite level of play to put on the field for ONE game, you’d kinda almost take him over almost anyone for the Cardinals past and present right now, wouldn’t you?
I know I would, and if Jones keeps his historic pace up, he’ll break that all-time sack record pretty easily over the next 3 years he’s locked up for.
Defensive Tackle (2):
Alright, let’s take a look at the finalists here....
Bob Rowe (1967-1975)
While sack & tackle numbers weren’t tracked in this era for defenders, Rowe was a Pro-Bowl player in 1968 and was a long-tenured Cardinal.
Chuck Walker (1964-1972)
Like Rowe, Walker was a long-time Cardinal who didn’t see tackles or sacks registered but making a Pro Bowl and an All-Pro award is one of the most impressive accomplishments for a Cardinals defender given how the team’s struggled over the years in finding pass rushers, especially on the interior.
Now, with those out of the way in my opinion this is one of the easiest categories to vote for in the entire team. Let’s talk about...
Eric Swann (1991-1999)
46+ sacks, 453 tackles, 6 forced fumbles, a two-time Pro Bowler and two-time All Pro, Swann’s definitely one of the all-time Cardinal greats who could blow up the run and rush the passer. An incredible player during the team’s dark times in the 90’s.
Darnell Dockett (2004-2014)
Can’t forget one of the most unique, fun and tenacious Arizona Cardinals of all time now, can we? Dockett was his own man and was a 3-time pro bowler who’s still got 3 sacks in the freaking Super Bowl to his name.
With 459 total tackles, 40.5 sacks and 9 forced fumbles, he was a best and despite signing with the rival 49ers, never played another down away from the team. For my money, he and Swann are the clear cut guys you’d want on your team as the stalwart men guarding the middle of the defense.
So, now let’s see what YOU decide. Who’s the ones who make the All-Time roster?
Who are the starting edge rushers for the All-Time Arizona Cardinals? (Top 2 votes win)
This poll is closed
Freddie Joe Nunn
Who are the starting defensive tackles for the All-Time Arizona Cardinals?
This poll is closed
Sound off in the comments, Birdgang!