As one of three remaining undefeated teams in the NFL, the Arizona Cardinals have been turning a lot of heads.
ESPN NFL analyst Mark Schlereth told Bickley and Marotta Friday on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM he was “really impressed” with the team’s blitz-heavy defense.
“Every play when I’m breaking them down is like, ‘Oh, there comes another blitz, there’s another safety at the line of scrimmage,'” Schlereth said. “They are flying around on defense, and it shows you the confidence they have in their cornerbacks, the confidence they have in one-on-one coverage, and the confidence they have that their blitz is going to be timed up well, it’s going to be executed well, and they’re going to get pressure on the opponent’s quarterback.”
The Cardinals are ranked in the top 10 in the league in several defensive categories, including opponents’ net yards per game (6th), opponents’ rushing yards per game (3rd), and opponents’ points per game (2nd).
Those statistics are comparable to last year’s defensive rankings, despite the losses of Daryl Washington to suspension, and John Abraham and Darnell Dockett to injury.
“Every time I put them on, I’m like, ‘Dang, this team is so dang aggressive on the defensive side of the ball,'” Schlereth said. “And usually, that’s a recipe for disaster, but it hasn’t been for them because they’re so good at it, and that’s a testament of not only the players, but also the coaching.”
Schlereth isn’t only impressed with the Cardinals’ defense.
Arizona won their last two games led by backup quarterback Drew Stanton instead of regular starter Carson Palmer, who has been out with a shoulder injury.
“To be able to win ball games with your backup quarterback, I just find that that’s one of those things that again points to a toughness of mental attitude, if you will, and everybody kind of picking up the slack on that side of the ball to support the backup quarterback,” Schlereth said.
“He’s played well, don’t get me wrong, but the bottom line is I’m just really impressed with the kind of overall team wins and the way they’ve handled their business.”
The Cardinals have a bye in Week 4 before they take on the Broncos in Denver on Oct. 5. Palmer is expected to play.