Cardinals’ pass rush, secondary receive low grades from PFF

Jan 16, 2021, 8:10 AM

Arizona Cardinals' Haason Reddick, top, reacts as he sacks New York Giants quarterback Colt McCoy d...

Arizona Cardinals' Haason Reddick, top, reacts as he sacks New York Giants quarterback Colt McCoy during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 13, 2020, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

(AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

The Arizona Cardinals’ roller coaster ride of a season in 2020 did little to inspire confidence in two key aspects of the team’s defensive unit.

That’s the takeaway from football analytics site Pro Football Focus, which ranked the Cardinals’ pass rushing 21st and secondary 22nd in its year-end review of the NFL.

The Cardinals’ pass rush found its way into the lower half of the league rankings, in part because of the season-ending injury suffered by defensive end Chandler Jones in the team’s Week 5 win over the New York Jets.

PFF’s Ben Linsey writes:

The Cardinals got just over four games from their best pass-rusher, Chandler Jones, before he was knocked out for the remainder of the season with an elbow injury. That’s always going to hurt a team’s pass-rushing unit.

The bright spot for the Cardinals, however, was the emergence of former first-round pick Haason Reddick, who finished the year with 12.5 sacks.

Linsey praised Reddick for his renaissance rushing the passer in the final year of his rookie contract.

Arizona did get surprisingly efficient play from Haason Reddick off the edge, however, Reddick had 57 career pressures coming into this year, and he came out of this season nearly matching that total in 2020 alone with 55 pressures, including 12.5 NFL sacks. It was a good time for a career year, as Reddick is set to enter free agency this offseason.

Fellow PFF writer Anthony Treash, meanwhile, broke down the Cardinals’ secondary and its sub-par grades for the year.

Treash highlighted the struggles that veteran cornerbacks Patrick Peterson and Dre Kirkpatrick had in 2020, which brought the entire unit’s standing down.

Arizona had veterans Patrick Peterson and Dre Kirkpatrick manning the outside spots, and each put together one of the worst seasons of their careers. Peterson ranked 83rd among 121 qualifying cornerbacks in coverage grade (53.1), and Kirkpatrick slotted in at 107th (46.1).

All that said, the Cardinals finished the year with the 11th highest number of QB hurries and the fifth-most sacks of any NFL club, speaking to the progress of players like Reddick on the line.

The secondary lagged behind in most metrics, however, finishing 19th in the league in interceptions and 24th in pass deflections.

Reddick, Peterson and Kirkpatrick are among the 29 players on the Cardinals’ roster that will be free agents in the upcoming offseason.

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Cardinals’ pass rush, secondary receive low grades from PFF