Cardinals’ Gardeck: It’ll take a group effort to replace Chandler Jones
Mar 17, 2022, 5:56 PM | Updated: Mar 21, 2022, 1:16 pm
(Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
Arizona Cardinals outside linebacker Dennis Gardeck caught fire in Week 5 of the 2020 season, rattling off a pair of sacks in a win over the New York Jets.
It was a huge moment for Gardeck, who tallied the first sacks of his career.
But while one linebacker was relishing in the moment, another was on the other side of the spectrum.
Gardeck’s first defensive snaps of his career came at the expense of starting pass rusher Chandler Jones, who was forced out the game with what would end up being a season-ending biceps injury. Instead of sulking in the corner, Jones was right there to juice up Gardeck.
On Wednesday, their career paths went another step further, with Jones departing the Valley for Las Vegas and Gardeck re-upping with the Cardinals on a three-year deal.
They may no longer share a linebackers room, but the influence Jones had on Gardeck will have a lasting mark.
“I’m excited for him, I’m happy for him,” Gardeck said Wednesday. “I remember my first Chandler Jones story was the first day the vets were in the building after rookie minicamp. I had sneezed and he said ‘God bless you’ to me and I was just amazed that he even said (that to) a small undrafted guy. But he’s been a tremendous part of my career, teaching me pass rush and the way he does things, his thought process.
“And then my success in 2020 came because he tore his bicep. … The highest moment of my life was a pretty low one for him. … He was so happy for me. And that was the coolest moment for me. I’ve got goosebumps right now. Just speaks volumes as to the kind of man that Chandler Jones is and the impact he’s had on my life. So I’m happy for him to have a new deal. We’re gonna miss him dearly and in our room, but next man up.”
Jones will be best remembered in Arizona for his impressive sack totals and ability to alter opposing offenses.
But behind the scenes, Jones had a good grasp of having fun while still executing his job at a high level. That kind of mentality rubbed off on Gardeck and the rest of the linebackers room.
Now with Jones sporting the silver and black, it’ll take a group effort to emulate what the linebacker brought to the table.
Luckily for Arizona, it still has a number of veteran outside backers to lean on in 2021 Cardinals sack leader Markus Golden, Devon Kennard and Gardeck while Victor Dimukeje enters his second NFL season.
“I think it’s gonna be a bunch of people stepping up and filling that order,” Gardeck said. “But in terms of being able to keep guys locked in while having fun, I think that’s something that we can all do.”