ARIZONA CARDINALS

Campbell, other Cardinals defensive newcomers play big vs. WFT

Sep 20, 2020, 7:40 PM
Washington Football Team wide receiver Antonio Gandy-Golden (10) is hit by Arizona Cardinals outsid...

Washington Football Team wide receiver Antonio Gandy-Golden (10) is hit by Arizona Cardinals outside linebacker De'Vondre Campbell and safety Chris Banjo (31) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Early returns look good for the Arizona Cardinals’ offseason commitment to reshaping a defense that a year ago was chock full of personnel holes.

On Sunday against the Washington Football Team, defensive tackle Jordan Phillips whacked the ball out of Washington quarterback Dwayne Haskins Jr.’s hand, leading to a recovery by Cardinals teammate Chandler Jones. The play was huge considering it erased quarterback Kyler Murray’s interception minutes before.

Cardinals outside linebacker Devon Kennard started a possession in the second quarter with a sack.

And inside linebacker De’Vondre Campbell held up well in coverage and beyond against a Washington offense that tried with all its might to involve tight ends in the passing game.

Those three items are significant because that trio is new to Arizona. They made their impact quite obvious as the Cardinals won 30-15 Sunday at State Farm Stadium.

“The physicality has been great. The third downs have been great,” Arizona coach Kliff Kingsbury said of the reloaded defense. “That was an area we really struggled on last year. (GM) Steve (Keim) did a tremendous job adding some pieces that made big plays today. You saw 59 (Campbell) and 97 (Phillips) all over that field.”

The eyes have especially been on Campbell because the Cardinals’ Achilles heel the past few seasons was no doubt an inability to cover tight ends.

The former Atlanta Falcon was often times in coverage against Washington’s Logan Thomas, the former Arizona quarterback who in Week 1 led the team with eight targets. Against the Cardinals, Thomas caught four balls for 26 yards but was targeted nine times.

Campbell was credited with 10 tackles (two for loss) and two passes defensed. He was targeted on plays designed to beat a linebacker down the sideline with a tight end or running back.

At 6-foot-3 and 232 pounds, it might’ve surprised that Campbell was right with his assignments on deep shots.

“I always kind of pride myself in being multi-dimensional,” the inside linebacker said. “I feel like I can rush, cover and play behind the ball. Yeah, some people are surprised considering I am a bigger guy and I can run with tight ends, wide receivers and running backs.”

Kingsbury called Campbell “one of the more undercover, under-the-radar players in the entire league,” and credited the linebacker’s IQ and quick assimilation into defensive coordinator Vance Joseph’s scheme.

Phillips (one sack) and Kennard (three tackles, two quarterback hits, one sack) also have looked like promising upgrades.

As a unit, Arizona’s defense recorded four sacks on Haskins in the first half and held the second-year pro to 223 yards on 19-of-33 passing with a touchdown and no picks. Haskins’ primary target, receiver Terry McLaurin, made seven catches to tie his career-high of 125 yards, but a good chunk came with the Cardinals sitting back in coverage considering they jumped out to a big lead.

The Cardinals may gripe that they let Washington’s offense start ripping off chunk plays in the second half and a group of backs averaged 5.1 yards per carry. No doubt, Washington scoring 15 points in the final 18:14 is not ideal.

But Arizona also could look at the third-down efficiency tallies (6-for-23) through two games against reasonably respected opponents.

Washington, after all, rallied from a 17-0 deficit in Week 1 to beat the Eagles, 27-17.  And the San Francisco 49ers put up 31 points Sunday against the New York Jets after the Cardinals held them to 20 last week.

“I think we’ve had a great start thus far, but as anything, there’s a lot of work to do,” Campbell said. “We have some corrections that definitely need to be made, but at this point I think we’ve been doing pretty well gelling together considering we haven’t had a ton of time together.

“I think we just need to continue chipping away at the little things. Communication, leverage, just things we can control.”

Life Changer Loans
Arizona Cardinals running back Chase Edmonds (29) is stopped by Washington Football Team linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Washington Football Team strong safety Landon Collins (26) intercepts a pass intended for Arizona Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins (10) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Darryl Webb) Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray (1) throws as Washington Football Team defensive end Ryan Kerrigan (91) and defensive tackle Matthew Ioannidis (98) pursue during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Darryl Webb) Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray (1) gets the pass away as Washington Football Team defensive end Montez Sweat (90) pursues during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Arizona Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins (10) tries to elude Washington Football Team safety Kamren Curl (31) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Arizona Cardinals linebacker Chandler Jones (55) celebrates his fumble recovery against the Washington Football Team with Zeke Turner (47) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Darryl Webb) Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray (1) is sacked by Washington Football Team inside linebacker Jon Bostic (53) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (11) is tackled by Washington Football Team cornerback Jimmy Moreland (20) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Darryl Webb) Washington Football Team Steven Sims (15) tries to elude Arizona Cardinals Trent Sherfield (16) on a kick off return during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Darryl Webb) Arizona Cardinals cornerback Kevin Peterson (27) hits Washington Football Team wide receiver Steven Sims (15) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Darryl Webb) Washington Football Team quarterback Dwayne Haskins (7) throws during the second half of an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Washington Football Team cornerback Fabian Moreau (25) grabs Arizona Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins (10) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray (1) runs for a touchdown as Washington Football Team inside linebacker Jon Bostic (53) pursues during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Darryl Webb) Arizona Cardinals running back Kenyan Drake (41) can't escape the grasp of Washington Football Team linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Darryl Webb) Washington Football Team wide receiver Antonio Gandy-Golden (10) is hit by Arizona Cardinals outside linebacker De'Vondre Campbell and safety Chris Banjo (31) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Washington Football Team running back Antonio Gibson (24) looks to run against the Arizona Cardinals during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Darryl Webb) Washington Football Team head coach Ron Rivera and strong safety Landon Collins (26) stand during the national anthem prior to an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Washington Football Team running back Antonio Gibson (24) runs for a touchdown as Arizona Cardinals outside linebacker Devon Kennard (42) defends during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Darryl Webb) Washington Football Team quarterback Dwayne Haskins (7) is brought down by Arizona Cardinals defensive end Jordan Phillips (97) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Darryl Webb) Washington Football Team running back Antonio Gibson (24) scores a touchdown as Arizona Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson (21) defends during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Darryl Webb) Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray (1) leaves the field after an NFL football game against the Washington Football Team, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020, in Glendale, Ariz. The Cardinals won 30-15. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) GLENDALE, ARIZONA - SEPTEMBER 20: Quarterback Kyler Murray #1 of the Arizona Cardinals runs with the football en route to scoring a 14 yard rushing touchdown against the Washington Football Team during the first half of the NFL game at State Farm Stadium on September 20, 2020 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) GLENDALE, ARIZONA - SEPTEMBER 20: Kyler Murray #1 of the Arizona Cardinals prepares for a game against the Washington Football Team at State Farm Stadium on September 20, 2020 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images) Arizona Cardinals running back Chase Edmonds (29) is stopped by Washington Football Team linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Washington Football Team strong safety Landon Collins (26) intercepts a pass intended for Arizona Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins (10) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Darryl Webb)

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