The Cardinals defense saw first-hand Sunday how much an effective pass rush can disrupt an offense.
Unfortunately for first-year defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, it happened while his defense was on the sideline.
The Rams sacked Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer four times and forced him to fumble twice while Arizona’s defense didn’t record a single sack — something that happened just once during the past two seasons, on Nov. 20, 2011 against the 49ers — and rarely pressured Rams quarterback Sam Bradford.
“If we don’t have a good pass rush, we’re not going to beat anybody,” defensive end Calais Campbell said.
Head coach Bruce Arians called the lack of pass rush a matter of technique and not lack of effort, and said each pass-rusher needs to work within his “toolbox” of skills. Arians added that the line was able to get a fairly consistent push up the middle, but its edge rushers “just didn’t get home,” and the unit may develop a more consistent rotation to keep players with fresh legs in the game.
“A couple guys got out of control with speed instead of using power and counter moves,” Arians said. “Don’t go rogue and think you’re a fast guy when you’re a power guy. Do what you’re coached to do.
“It doesn’t take a rocket scientist — the most negative thing was lack of pressure on the quarterback.”
Pro Football Focus rated Darnell Dockett the league’s worst 3-4 defensive end in Week 1 after he was credited with a single tackle, and the line’s lone impact play came when Matt Shaughnessy tipped a pass that nose guard Dan Williams intercepted and returned two yards for a touchdown.
“(We need to) get better,” Dockett said. “Individually, everyone in the front four. Just any time you play against a guy that can pass the ball quick, you’ve got create pressure. I put that on us. We’ve talked about it since [Sunday] that we’ve got to do a better job.”
Despite the Cardinals’ inability to pressure the quarterback in their season opener, Campbell isn’t overly concerned — as long as improvements are made.
“We have a lot of playmakers on this team … if we do our part, we can be a playoff team,” Campbell said. “Just being more disruptive in the pass rush will be huge. I’ve got to get better.
“(Rushing the passer) is something I take a lot of pride in.”