ESPN: Loss of Calais Campbell has hurt the Cardinals’ pass rush

Nov 11, 2017, 6:27 AM
(AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton, File)...
(AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton, File)
(AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton, File)

The Arizona Cardinals’ defense has not been the same this season. Meanwhile, former defensive lineman Calais Campbell is having a monster first year with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The Cardinals decided to let the 32-year-old Campbell walk in the offseason after he finished his nine years in Arizona second on the franchise’s all-time sacks list with 56.5.

ESPN senior writer Mike Sando picked an offseason move that has impacted each team, and he chose Campbell’s departure for the Cardinals as the biggest of the summer.

The $15 million annual price tag Campbell commanded from Jacksonville likely exceeds what the Cardinals would have paid had they made re-signing Campbell a priority. But that never seemed to be their intention. Coach Bruce Arians criticized Campbell’s consistency in 2015, which seemed to tip the Cardinals’ hand in negotiations. Campbell already has more sacks in a half-season with Jacksonville (11) than he had in any full season with Arizona. The Cardinals are allowing an additional five points per game for reasons that include — but go beyond — Campbell’s offseason departure.

Arizona terrorized opposing quarterbacks last season.

Thanks in part to Campbell’s eight sacks in 2016 — not to mention his drawing of double-teams to help linebackers Chandler Jones and Markus Golden — the Cardinals led the NFL with 48 total.

But as a unit, the Cardinals’ pass rush has struggled in 2017 without the presence of Campbell.

Linebacker Chandler Jones leads the team this season with nine sacks, and Corey Peters has contributed 16 tackles and a sack while playing the second-most snaps on the defensive line. The Cardinals also took a hit when Markus Golden, who had 12.5 sacks in 2016, injured himself after four appearances this year without a sack.

Among Arizona defenders, only Jones has more than one sack. As a team, the Cardinals have 18.0 sacks this year, tied for 18th-most in the NFL.

Meanwhile, the Jaguars lead the league with 35, six more than the Carolina Panthers (29), who have played one more game.

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ESPN: Loss of Calais Campbell has hurt the Cardinals’ pass rush