It has been a rough few days for the Arizona Cardinals’ linebacking a core.
Through three games, defensive coordinator Todd Bowles has gone with a rotation involving John Abraham, Lorenzo Alexander and Sam Acho on the outside. According to Pro Football Focus the snaps have been split pretty evenly between the three, with Acho playing the most at 104, Abraham 101 and Alexander 80.
Now two of them are out of for the season, as Acho has a fractured left fibula and Alexander a Lisfranc injury to his right foot.
To make matters worse, Arizona lost more depth at the position when rookie Alex Okafor joined his teammates on Injured Reserve with a torn biceps.
The Cards are now forced to shuffle up the rotation at outside linebacker.
“You hope that your playbook is big enough that we have enough different things that guys can do and play their best,” said head coach Bruce Arians. “It’s not new for John Abraham to play WILL linebacker and not new for Matt (Shaughnessy) to play SAM. Both of those guys will go play their spots and we’ll fill in with the young guys behind them.”
One of the young guys potentially being asked to contribute right away will be the recently-signed Dontay Moch.
Moch is unproven and has never been given an opportunity to contribute regularly at the NFL level.
Arizona’s defense showed signs of life in the 31-7 loss to the Saints last week. It was a 14-7 game more than halfway through the third quarter, and the Cards had forced New Orleans into three three-and-outs in the first half.
In the previous two games the Saints had three three-and-outs…combined.
As the game wore on and the Cardinals’ offense failed to produce, the defense wore down and finally broke.
With position adjustments and a lack of continuity, will the Cards be able to build on the success they showed this past Sunday?
We will find out in Tampa Bay.