Cardinals’ Dennis Gardeck making most of reps, not changing sack dance
Arizona Cardinals linebacker Dennis Gardeck entered the NFL season ready for whatever the team needed from him.
Fourteen weeks later and the backup linebacker has been thrust into more playing time than anticipated defensively with key injuries plaguing the unit in 2020.
While the sample size hasn’t been as large as some of the others on the team, the impact Gardeck is having on the defense is large.
In 13 games played, Gardeck has accumulated 11 tackles, five of which for losses, 5.0 sacks, eight QB hits and a fumble recovery. Last Sunday against the New York Giants, the linebacker accounted for two of the team’s eight sacks on the day and one of Arizona’s three fumble recoveries.
His sack total is second on the team to only fellow linebacker Haason Reddick, who has 10 on the year after a five-sack outing in New York.
And oh yeah, Gardeck has also done it in just 69 defensive snaps, bringing up the question as to whether or not his playing time should increase.
“I’ll take whatever opportunity I can to get out on the field,” Gardeck said via Zoom on Tuesday. “I think the packages I am in fit my skillset very well. [Defensive coordinator] Vance [Joseph] talked about being a star in your role, that’s something we’ve talked about together a couple times.
“Whatever your role is, do it to the best of your ability. I’m not worried about how else they can use me. That’s their job. My job is to be the best in the way they are using me.”
Gardeck’s performance in the win helped the Cardinals become the first team since 1998 Tampa Bay Buccaneers to register at least 8.0 sacks and five forced fumbles.
And while the jury may still be out on if the Cardinals up his reps to finish off the regular season, there was one area of focus cleared up on Tuesday’s Zoom call: Hitting the strobe never stops.
The linebacker’s patented “Hit the Strobe” sack dance isn’t going away anytime soon.
After not playing a snap on defense in his first two NFL seasons, @DGardeck has racked up 5.0 sacks, 8 QB hits, 5 tackles for loss and a fumble recovery this season.
— Arizona Cardinals (@AZCardinals) December 15, 2020
“I think if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” Gardeck said. “I think hitting the strobe is working for me so I’m going to continue with that.
“[Chandler Jones] doesn’t ever switch the guitar celebration and he’s getting like four sacks a game sometimes. I think I can stick with hitting the strobe.”
Can’t argue with that airtight logic.