ARIZONA CARDINALS

Brentson Buckner wants to bring back the culture on Cardinals D-line

Aug 20, 2020, 2:16 PM
Arizona Cardinals defensive line coach Brentson Buckner talks into his headset during an NFL game b...
Arizona Cardinals defensive line coach Brentson Buckner talks into his headset during an NFL game between the Arizona Cardinals and the San Francisco 49ers on November 5, 2017 at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, CA. (Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
(Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Brentson Buckner says he has retained the bluntness from his first assistant coaching tenure with the Arizona Cardinals.

The Cardinals rang this offseason looking to replace Chris Achuff as the defensive line coach, their only major coaching move after Kliff Kingsbury’s first season in charge.

“The first thing that went into me being back, I got fired from Oakland,” Buckner said with that bluntness Thursday. “Really my family has been here since we first came (in 2013). We never moved.

“I was coming back here to live anyway. The job came open and (defensive coordinator Vance Joseph) called me into an interview to see how it was going to go. I guess it went well.”

Arizona general manager Steve Keim this offseason armed Buckner with free agent signee Jordan Phillips, a behemoth of a man on the interior of the line.

Now there’s lots to be proven. The signing of Phillips, a 340-pound tackle with the ability to move from nose tackle to 5-technique, was criticized for its value and the fact that he hadn’t broken out in statistical terms until he recorded 9.5 sacks last year. Even then, there are bigger questions.

The Cardinals drafted Leki Fotu and Rashard Lawrence, while Zach Allen, Michael Dogbe and Jonathan Bullard are returning.

Can at least one of the rookies step in right away? And can the returning players take a step forward to help Phillips and Corey Peters rewrite the reputation of the Cardinals D-line?

Buckner is calling back to his past with Arizona to trigger a cultural turnaround. He said Phillips should be the most impactful lineman since Calais Campbell, who left in 2016. Buckner has shown his team film of Campbell and fellow former Arizona players like Frostee Rucker and Darnell Dockett.

“The goals for my unit are to be a … mentally, physically, emotionally strong team,” Buckner said. “We gonna put our hand in the dirt and we gonna to play. When you play the Arizona Cardinals, you’re going to know you’re in a fight. That’s my goal, for them to play hard and physical every snap. I tell them, we ain’t got to be the reason we win games, but we definitely not going to be the reason we lose games.

“I’m trying to get them back to that level that when we step on the field, we’re not cocky, but we don’t think nobody can block us.”

Since Buckner left the Cardinals at the end of head coach Bruce Arians’ tenure in 2017, the defensive line coach gained more perspective. He joined Dirk Koetter’s staff with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2018 before it was dismantled and replaced by an Arians-led staff.

Buckner landed under Jon Gruden with the Oakland Raiders last season before being dismissed.

Working under Arizona defensive coordinator Vance Joseph has gone well so far, Buckner said. Joseph’s willingness to build a versatile football team extends to the trenches, and that allows a coach like Buckner to put his players in the most comfortable spots where they can be effective.

“He’s not a dictator, so he takes input from all the coaches,” Buckner added. “He trusts his coaches and the players see that. When the players see that the defensive coordinator trusts his assistant coaches, they buy in more to the assistant coaches so there’s not a divide. He’s been a good cop to my bad cop ’cause I can go off the edge a little bit.”

Both of Buckner and Joseph have pressure on them this year to get production out of the interior of the line. They desperately want to help linebacker Chandler Jones, who has been a one-man show on the edge over the past few years.

Jones had 19.0 sacks last year. The interior linemen: 7.0 combined.

With such a short offseason, it leaves room for potential delays in the improvement plan.

Buckner’s 12 seasons of NFL experience and his coaching reputation — Phillips has cited the hire as a reason to join Arizona as a free agent — could make up for all the newness, the Cardinals hope.

“I mean, he’s played in the league and that’s nice. He has a player’s and coach’s view on everything. Some stuff you see on paper and you say, how’s that going to work?” Phillips said, adding Buckner commands buy-in.

“We got a long ways to go. We got a lot of young guys and not a lot of ball that’s been played.”

Life Changer Loans

Arizona Cardinals

Carolina Panthers quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) sets back to pass during the first half of an NFL ...
Arizona Sports

Behind Enemy Lines: Panthers pass game still a concern before facing Cardinals

While the Panthers finally got their first victory of the season with a win over the Saints, the passing game remains a major issue.
24 hours ago
Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury, center, stands on the sidelines during the second hal...
Jordan Leandre

Football Outsiders down on Arizona Cardinals turning season around

The Arizona Cardinals will be without support from Football Outsiders in their quest to right the ship after a 1-2 start to the season.
24 hours ago
Defensive tackle Rashard Lawrence #90 of the Arizona Cardinals lines up during the NFL game at Stat...
Tyler Drake

Arizona Cardinals DL Rashard Lawrence undergoes hand surgery

Cardinals DL Rashard Lawrence is out for Week 4 after undergoing hand surgery for an injury suffered in the team's Week 3 loss to the Rams.
24 hours ago
Arizona Cardinals QB Kyler Murray (Jeremy Schnell/Arizona Sports)...
Tyler Drake

Cardinals’ Kyler Murray reiterates need for pass catchers to stay locked in

Given Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray's ability to make things happen on the fly, his receivers must remain focused throughout each play.
24 hours ago
Arizona Cardinals WR A.J. Green (Jeremy Schnell/Arizona Sports)...
Alex Weiner

Cardinals’ WR depth continues to be tested, Kingsbury confident in group

The Arizona Cardinals were down to four active wide receivers in the second half of Sunday's game against the Los Angeles Rams.
2 days ago
Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury (Jeremy Schnell/Arizona Sports)...
Tyler Drake

Cardinals’ Kliff Kingsbury: ‘We have to figure out exactly who we are’

The Arizona Cardinals rolled out another inconsistent showing offensively in a Week 3 loss to the Los Angeles Rams.
2 days ago
Brentson Buckner wants to bring back the culture on Cardinals D-line