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Cardinals’ Inexcusable Defensive Effort (Taking It Personally)

NFL: Carolina Panthers at Arizona Cardinals Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

To the Cardinals’ fans and critics who insist the Cardinals’ defensive woes during Sunday’s 38-20 loss to the Panthers are due to a lack of talent and “too many holes”—-I beg to differ.

Some people keep pointing to the absence of CBs Patrick Peterson and Robert Alford as one of the main reasons why the Cardinals are giving up 29.3 points per game—-but, the Cardinals have a enough talent on defense to be playing better—-what they lack is discipline, proper coaching and sheer will.

For the Cardinals’ defense to lay down the way they did versus the Panthers at home before a super hyped up crowd while being spotted to three leads in the game was totally inexcusable.

From a talent standpoint—-look at where the Cardinals current defensive players were drafted:

1st Rounders: Terrell Suggs, Chandler Jones, Haason Reddick

2nd Rounders: Brooks Reed, D.J. Swearinger, Budda Baker, Byron Murphy

3rd Rounders: Corey Peters, Jordan Hicks, Zach Allen

4th Rounder: Rodney Gunter

From an experience and leadership standpoint—-look at the players who have been on Super Bowl and Conference Championship Game teams:

Super Bowl experience: Suggs, Jones, Reed, Hicks and Tramaine Brock

Conference Championship Game experience: Suggs, Jones, Reed, Hicks, Brock, D. J. Swearinger, Corey Peters, Rodney Gunter

Lack of Discipline:

  • easily giving up contain to QBs and RBs
  • leaving receivers wide open
  • doing a pitiful job of covering TEs
  • shoddy open field tackling
  • not stepping up to meet blocks and initiate the contact

Lack of Proper Coaching:

  • Starting games in soft zones and allowing the opposing offense, even with a backup QB to get comfortable and in rhythm
  • Using the best pass rusher on the team in pass coverage, even on key passing downs
  • Not having a true safety valve in centerfield
  • Playing some players, like Budda Baker and D.J. Swearinger out of position
  • Lack of double teams
  • Thinking they can cover a dynamic TE like Greg Olsen with S D.J. Swearinger
  • Lack of in-game switches and adjustments

Lack of Sheer Will:

  • Inconsistent effort and focus
  • Lack of consistent QB pressure
  • Lack of leadership
  • Immediately giving back EVERY (all 4) lead the offense has given them in 3 games

What we can already appreciate from Kliff Kingsbury and the Cardinals’ offense is that from the get-go each week, it is clear that the coaches and players have a game plan wherein they understand the strengths and weaknesses of the opponent. Like this week, planning to dink and dunk versus the Panthers’ zone defense.

When at the start of games, the Cardinals’ defense doesn’t even cover TEs the likes of T.J. Hockenson, Mark Andrews and Greg Olsen, it is painfully obvious the defensive coaches have not done their homework and that they haven’t properly prepared for the opponent.

When a second string QB who has only started one game in is young career can comfortably stand back in the pocket 9 out 10 times in the Cardinals’ own stadium and pick the defense apart to the tune of throwing 4 TDs, all on easy throws to wide-open WRs/TEs, it is painfully obvious that the coaches and players do not understand what is at stake and what it takes to win the game.

During the pre-season, GM Steve Keim issued a statement through the media following a poor home loss to the Raiders that “some players are getting a little too comfortable”—-well, yeah, no kidding. It’s been the age-old “come to Arizona to retire” syndrome.

Yet, the one player Keim releases yesterday was an offensive veteran who was not fitting in. But, the main issues are on the defensive side of the ball. What are you planning to do about that Steve Keim?

This is the same GM who have been appeasing Patrick Peterson, the team’s suspended player, insisting he would never trade Peterson, a disgruntled player who has asked to be traded, who went and violated two clear-cut NFL PED rules which cost him and team 6 games and who went on a sophomoric social media tirade when the Cardinals refused to rework his contract so that he could recover some of the money he was going to lose during his suspension.

While it may not annoy some fans, but just the thought of Patrick Peterson sitting at home believing how much the team misses him and how lacking they have been without him, ticks me off something fierce. it wouldn’t surprise me if he wonders whether the Cardinals should throw him a parade when he returns—-and make a media spectacle out of it by having him parachute down through the open roof of State Farm Stadium while the coaches and players form a gauntlet amidst the blare of horns and the cheerleaders doing backflips.

Some fans tell me that my dislike for Peterson is “too personal”—-well, yeah, I will confess to you what’s “personal”—-I take losing and lack of effort very “personally”—-and as a Cardinals’ fan since 1963—-I have taken my fair share of losing for lack of effort very personally to the point of being fed up. Yes, I take it personally when a self-serving prima donna on the Cardinals is having his own way with them. It’s the same way I feel when I see a bratty, spoiled-rotten kid get away with walking all over his parents. And when that kid is doing it to people I know and love, yes, I take it personally.

I am taking what I saw from the Cardinals’ defense this week extremely personally—-because I still believe that they are WAY better than this.

Yes, when my hopes for seeing the Cardinals win are dashed by an inexcusable lack of effort and determination on one side of the ball, I take it personally—-because I do not want to give up hope on yet another season.

But what a fool believes, he sees

No wise man has the power to reason away

What seems to be

Is always better than nothing

Than nothing at all

Thank you Michael McDonald and the Doobie Brothers.