The Arizona Cardinals defense has looked less than inspiring in the first two weeks of the season.
Arizona has given up more than 300 yards passing in each of the first two games and even the run defense, which was a bright spot in Week 1, was exploited by the Redskins Sunday.
The Cardinals are ranked 29th out of 32 teams in overall defense, giving up an average of 466 yards a game. While it’s still early in the season, that simply isn’t good enough.
Some of the defense’s problems come from mistakes.
“In looking at our defense, obviously we’ve given up too much yardage, too much time of possession and we didn’t win the battle of field position,” head coach Ken Whisenhunt said. “When we make our bad plays we are really bad, we’re dropping coverage, not hitting the right gaps and all those things we have to work on to get cleaned up.”
Whisenhunt places some of the blame of the lackluster defense on not having the offseason to learn new defensive coordinator Ray Horton’s system.
“It hurts, to be perfectly honest, that we haven’t had all those reps that we usually get in the spring,” Whisenhunt said. “When we go through the week and prepare we talk about sets and adjustments to sets, but when you’re out on the field in front of 100,000 people there is going to be mistakes.”
Simplifying the defense is an option Whisenhunt is not confident in since it could potentially make the Cardinals more vulnerable.
“You have to change your defense up to try to keep offenses off balance,” Whisenhunt said. “Therein lies the problem.”
Safety Kerry Rhodes attributes the slow defensive start to Horton’s “tough system.”
“It’s complicated but we’ve got to be pros at the same time and figure it out,” Rhodes said. “We don’t have anything else to do but learn it and try and get it down. We can throw it off on it being complicated all we want, but at the end of the day we’ve got to run it.”
One positive, according to Rhodes, is that the team is not giving up a lot of points with all the yards.
Either way the defense must improve or the team could find itself on the outside looking in when it comes to the playoffs.
“I am not by any stretch trying to make excuses,” Whisenhunt said. “We are not where we want to be and we’re working to get it corrected, and I know that our players are committed to do that.”