ARIZONA CARDINALS

Cardinals S Budda Baker ranked among NFL’s top off-ball blitzers

Jul 25, 2023, 7:41 AM

Julio Jones #6 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is tackled by Budda Baker #3 of the Arizona Cardinals af...

Julio Jones #6 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is tackled by Budda Baker #3 of the Arizona Cardinals after making a catch in overtime during the game at State Farm Stadium on December 25, 2022 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

(Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

Arizona Cardinals fan-favorite Budda Baker has made his mark in the league for his downhill, aggressive style of play and was recognized again for his prowess as a situational blitzer.

Andy Benoit of the 33rd Team ranked Baker No. 9 on a list of top off-ball blitzers in the NFL. The list includes just one other safety in Brandon Jones of the Miami Dolphins.

The skill allowed Baker to thrive in the Cardinals’ defense last season for a team that had the second-highest blitz rate in the NFL.

Transitioning away from Vance Joseph’s aggressive scheme to a Jonathan Gannon-led defense could be an adjustment for Baker and his new coach.

Gannon’s Eagles were heavily criticized for the lack of a blitz package in the Super Bowl loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, and the Eagles ranked in the middle of the pack with a 22.1% blitz rate last season, per Pro Football Reference.

Whether Gannon decides to adjust his coaching style to better fit Baker’s skill set remains to be seen.

It will be interesting to see if this missile gets deployed often under the new Arizona Cardinals regime. Much was made about head coach Jonathan Gannon rarely blitzing as defensive coordinator for the Philadelphia Eagles. But any coach with one of the greatest pass-rushing defensive lines of their era would elect not to blitz – especially if they also had the subtle, sound and creative twists in their split-safety coverages that Gannon did.

That said, only about three Cardinals defenders (give or take) would be starters in that Eagles lineup. With less veteran talent, the Cardinals could feel compelled to take more chances through scheme.

It’s also hard to determine how much the head coach’s influence will impact a defense with defensive coordinator Nick Rallis set to call plays. While Rallis spent the last few seasons with Gannon on the Eagles, he also has an extensive background with the Minnesota Vikings under former defensive guru Mike Zimmer.

Regardless of what direction the defense takes, the Cardinals and Baker still need to come to an agreement on extension terms or decide if trading Baker is the best option for both parties going forward.

Baker is under contract for this season with a non-guaranteed option paying out $14.2 million next year.

The safety, a five-time Pro Bowler and two-time first-team All-Pro, had 111 combined tackles last season on top of two interceptions.

Comments

Comment guidelines: No name-calling, personal attacks, profanity, or insults. Please keep the conversation civil and help us moderate comments by reporting abuse.
comments powered by Disqus

Arizona Cardinals

Trey Benson participates in the 2024 NFL Draft Combine...

Tyler Drake

Cardinals training camp battles: Trey Benson vs. Michael Carter

The battle at RB2 between rookie Trey Benson and veteran Michael Carter could end being one of the tightest this training camp.

10 hours ago

Kenyan Drake...

Arizona Sports

Former Cardinals RB Kenyan Drake announces retirement from NFL

Kenyan Drake, who picked up over 1,500 rushing yards across two seasons with the Arizona Cardinals, announced his retirement on Friday.

11 hours ago

...

Arizona Sports Video

Video: Which Arizona sports legend was left off the top 100 athletes since 2000? #cardinals #nfl

ESPN released the final tier of its top 100 athletes since 2000 and Burns & Gambo can't help but notice one Arizona Cardinals legend was missing from the list entirely.

1 day ago

...

Arizona Sports Video

Video: Arizona sports icons on (and snubbed from) top 100 athletes since 2000 ranking

ESPN released the final tier of its top 100 athletes since 2000 and while Olympian Michael Phelps took the No. 1 spot and Phoenix Mercury star Diana Taurasi finished among the top 25, Burns & Gambo can't help but notice one Arizona Cardinals legend was missing from the list entirely.

1 day ago

Clayton Tune and Desmond Ridder get reps in during offseason work...

Tyler Drake

Cardinals training camp battles: Desmond Ridder vs. Clayton Tune for QB2

After covering WR2 and left guard, it's time to dive into the Cardinals' QB2 battle between Desmond Ridder and Clayton Tune.

1 day ago

Darius Robinson gets a drink of water...

Ryan Pasiecznik

The Athletic’s biggest question for Cardinals centers around run defense

The Cardinals have question marks at multiple spots on the field. But what is the biggest? The Athletic's Scoop City Podcast took a look.

1 day ago

Cardinals S Budda Baker ranked among NFL’s top off-ball blitzers