Vance Joseph will return as Arizona Cardinals DC, Kliff Kingsbury says

Dec 30, 2019, 8:51 AM | Updated: 2:20 pm
Defensive coordinator Vance Joseph of the Arizona Cardinals during the second half of the NFL game ...
Defensive coordinator Vance Joseph of the Arizona Cardinals during the second half of the NFL game against the Detroit Lions at State Farm Stadium on September 08, 2019 in Glendale, Arizona. The Lions and Cardinals tied 27-27. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

TEMPE, Ariz. — Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator Vance Joseph will return for a second season under head coach Kliff Kingsbury.

Kingsbury confirmed that Monday, a day after Arizona fell 34-27 in the 2019 finale that gave the Cardinals a 5-10-1 record.

“I never wavered on that,” the head coach said of retaining Joseph. “His approach, knowing what I know of him and watching him work and things, I saw from the first day I was with him, I knew I wanted him to be here.”

The Cardinals allowed the most yards per game in the NFL (402.0 per game) through the end of the regular season and was fifth-worst with 27.6 points allowed per game.

They were second-worst in passing yards allowed (281.9 per game) thanks to a young secondary that was hampered by cornerback Patrick Peterson’s six-game suspension to start the year, a season-long injury to cornerback Robert Alford, roster turnover after cuts to former starters D.J. Swearinger and Tramaine Brock, plus implementation of younger players.

The Cardinals were most notably the NFL leader in touchdowns allowed to tight ends, finishing with 16 on the season.

Arizona’s rush defense allowed the 24th-fewest yards per game (120.1).

Kingsbury said the defense’s improvement over the last four games of the year, which included relative personnel stability, impressed him.

“There’s definitely progress,” he said. “Having Patrick get his legs back under him and play at a high level obviously helped. Young players learning our scheme, getting more reps, there were a lot of things.”

A report from Sirius XM NFL radio’s Alex Marvez said that the team has fired defensive line coach Chris Achuff and assistant special teams coach Randall McCray. Kingsbury would not confirm those moves Monday.

As for Joseph, who brought in two seasons of NFL head-coaching experience, he will get to build on his first season in charge of Arizona’s defense.

What will come of the continuity with the DC returning?

“I mean, he calls great games,” linebacker Jordan Hicks said. “He’s constantly putting us in the right calls for what the opposing offense is running.

“I think as the year went on, we were able to find our identity, we were able to figure out what we were good at. Now it’s all the small details.”

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