Heading into the 2023 season, there was great uncertainty as to what kind of a pass rush the Cardinals could muster with the current players on their roster. The only current player who ever tallied more than 3 sacks in an entire NFL season was Dennis Gardeck, who had 7 in 2020. Yet, Gardeck, because on an ACL rehab and being played more as a cover LB than pass rusher by Vance Jospeh, had only 1 sack combined in 2021 and 2022.
However, after 10 games, the Cardinals’ are #10 in the NFL in sacks.
On the edge, it has been a rush by committee approach by HC Jonathan Gannon, DC Nick Rallis and OLBC Rich Rodriguez. A rush by committee approach that is starting to pay dividends, particularly in light of Dennis Gardeck’s renaissance as a pass rusher, Zane Collins and Victor Dimukeje’s steady development and the recent emergence of 2023 2nd round pick B.J. Ojulari.
B.J. Ojulari, after picking up 3 sacks in the last two games, is now #4 in rookie leaders in sacks:
- 5 —- ED Byron Young LAR
- 4 —- DT Jalen Carter PHI
- 4 —- ED Tuli Tuipulotu LAC
- 3 —- ED B.J. Ojulari ARZ
And guess who is 5th?
- 2.5 —- DT Dante Stills ARZ
How many of you would have imagined that after 10 games, B.J. Ojulari and Dante Stills, picked at #41 and #213 in the 2023 NFL Draft would be keeping pace with Will Anderson and Jalen Carter, picked #3 and #9? Ojulari and Stills have combined for 5.5 sacks, while Anderson and Carter have combined for 6.0 sacks. And get this, Ojulari and Stills have combined for 480 snaps, while Anderson and Carter have combined for 662 snaps.
The Cardinals have all of their top 2023 pass rushers under contract for 2024.
- Dennis Gardeck: 21 pressures, 5 sacks, 19 tackles, PFF grade: 77.0
- Zaven Collins: 21 pressures, 3.5 sacks, 18 tackles, PFF grade: 75.0
- Victor Dimukeje: 20 pressures, 4 sacks, 10 tackles, PFF grade: 71.5
- Dante Stills: 14 pressures, 2.5 sacks, 14 tackles, PFF grade; 65.5
- B.J. Ojulari: 10 pressures, 3 sacks, 8 tackles, PFF grade: 69.9
- Cameron Thomas: 13 pressures, 0 sacks, 14 tackles, PFF grade: 60.7
The question is —- how much of a priority should the Edge position be for the Cardinals in 2024?
How much of a priority should the Edge position be for the Cardinals in 2024?
We know that addressing the defensive interior is of high priority.
But, imagine how improved the Cardinals’ young edge talent should be in 2024. Would it behoove the Cardinals to address other needs in free agency and the draft?
One could make a strong case that the Cardinals should build on what they have.
Do you agree?
And how about the job that Rich Rodriguez is doing as the outside linebackers coach?
He might be the MVPC (most valuable position coach) thus far this season.
Do you concur?