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PFF: Cardinals’ Peterson, Bynes make mark through first quarter of 2018

Arizona Cardinals defensive back Tre Boston, second from right, celebrates his interception against the Chicago Bears with Benson Mayowa, left, Josh Bynes (57) and Patrick Peterson (21) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 23, 2018, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ralph Freso)

Starting the season with four straight losses, two of them blowouts, doesn’t suggest the Arizona Cardinals have things together.

Their defense under first-year coach Steve Wilks and defensive coordinator Al Holcomb, however, includes a handful of reasons to believe the ceiling has yet to be reached.

Arizona has allowed 377 yards per game through the first quarter of the season, the 18th-fewest and a surprising figure considering they are on the field more than any other NFL defense this year. The Cardinals have allowed 23.5 points per outing, the 15th fewest while their offense brings up the rear by scoring a meager 9.3 points per game so far.

Individually, their best player is the one you’d think. The guy who Pro Football Focus might consider their second-best is not.

PFF named cornerback Patrick Peterson to its first quarter All-Pro team and gave an honorable mention nod to linebacker Josh Bynes.

Peterson has been deadly as a matchup man corner, but now he’s replicating that prowess playing far more zone coverage than ever before. He’s allowed seven catches on 14 targets, with only two of those catches resulting in a first down and five resulting in coverage stops.

Peterson has 17 tackles 1.0 sack with an interception and two passes defensed so far in 2018. No other player is allowing as low of a passer rating as Peterson’s 30.1, according to Pro Football Focus’ database.

Meanwhile, Bynes has been Arizona’s most consistent linebacker and as the rotation has shifted around him, become the defense’s vocal leader.

Bynes currently co-leads the team with 32 tackles along with safety Budda Baker. His PFF grade this season is seventh-best among NFL linebackers.

“When you look at Josh, the first thing that comes out is he’s just smart,” Wilks said Wednesday. “Josh gets everybody aligned and that’s important within our defense. Seeing certain adjustments and checks and being able to get either the front or the secondary in the right position, that’s what he brings. And that’s why he’s out there.”

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