Arizona Cardinals defense looking to become ‘scary’ in 2013

Aug 18, 2013, 4:19 PM | Updated: 9:29 pm

This time of year, it’s not an overwhelming shock that the Arizona Cardinals defense is noticeably ahead of the offense.

What is somewhat surprising, however, is the level of dominance the unit — especially the first-team — has exhibited over the first two games of the preseason. In fact, until Gavin Escobar’s touchdown grab early in the fourth quarter of Arizona’s 12-7 win over the Dallas Cowboys Saturday, the Cardinals defense hadn’t allowed a single point through the first 109 minutes and five seconds of live action in 2013.

“That’s the emphasis you have any time you go into a preseason or regular season game, not to let the other team score,” Darnell Dockett said. “But our biggest thing right now is taking care of each other and making sure we’re doing the small things right. We’re not going into a game looking for a shutout, we’re looking for accountability. Every time we come in we just don’t want to be that guy.”

Given the influx of new players — Jasper Brinkley, Jerraud Powers, Antoine Cason, Yeremiah Bell, Tyrann Mathieu, John Abraham, Alex Okafor, Matt Shaughnessy, Karlos Dansby, Lorenzo Alexander, Kevin Minter, Frustee Rucker, Javier Arenas, Tony Jefferson — and a new defensive scheme under coordinator Todd Bowles, there was an expectation that several members of the defense would likely be ‘that guy’ at some point in the preseason.

Yet while a learning curve was to be expected, the Cardinals have shown few ill effects from their defensive transformation.

If anything, the defensive looks even more dynamic and opportunistic than the unit that forced the third-most takeaways in the NFC a season ago.

In their five-point victory over the Cowboys Saturday, Bruce Arians’ squad forced six total turnovers, including one on special teams.

“I was really pleased with the way we took the ball away,” Arians said. “We have eight takeaways in two games, it’s something we can continue to build upon defensively.”

While the Cowboys — and in particular Dez Bryant, Lance Dunbar and Dwayne Harris — were able to convert on several chunk plays, the Cardinals’ defensive playmakers were never far behind.

In the second quarter alone, the team forced four turnovers, including a pair — Powers’ strip of Bryant after a 27-yard catch and Brinkley’s recovery after a 43-yard catch by Dunbar — that had far more to do with hustle and effort than being at the right place at the right time.

“I thought we did give up a few too many yards, but the main thing is if you can stop your opponent from scoring and create turnovers, you’re going to put yourself in position to win a lot of ball games,” said Powers. “We’ve been doing that the first two preseason games, but we can be better.”

It might be hard to top eight turnovers in two games — preseason or otherwise — but as Powers noted after Saturday’s game, the rewards they’ve reaped thus far are not a surprise to anyone on Bowles’ defense. Given the personnel decisions made in the offseason and the level of physicality that has taken center stage through the first few weeks of training camp, it’s almost expected.

“You’ve got guys like Tyrann [Mathieu], Patrick [Peterson] and Daryl Washington who are known for creating turnovers,” said Powers. “If the pieces that we’ve added this offseason can build on that, then we can be a scary defense.”

Life Changer Loans
Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer (3) warms up prior to an NFL preseason football game against the Dallas Cowboys, Saturday, Aug. 17, 2013, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York) Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians walks on the field prior to an NFL football preseason game against the Dallas Cowboys, Saturday, Aug. 17, 2013, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York) Dallas Cowboys' Tony Romo warms up prior to a preseason NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals on Saturday, Aug. 17, 2013, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones signs autographs prior to the Cowboys' preseason NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals on Saturday, Aug. 17, 2013, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald watches warmups before a preseason NFL football game on Saturday, Aug. 17, 2013, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri) Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett, left, shakes hands with Bruce Carter before a preseason NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Saturday, Aug. 17, 2013, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer (3) hands off as Dallas Cowboys defensive end Tyrone Crawford (98) pursues during the first half of a preseason NFL football game on Saturday, Aug. 17, 2013, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York) Arizona Cardinals running back Alfonso Smith (29) gains yardage against the Dallas Cowboys during the first half of a preseason NFL football game on Saturday, Aug. 17, 2013, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (11) makes a catch as Dallas Cowboys cornerback Brandon Carr defends during the first half of a preseason NFL football game on Saturday, Aug. 17, 2013, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri) Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer (3) throws against the Dallas Cowboys during the first half of a preseason NFL football game on Saturday, Aug. 17, 2013, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo (9) hands off to DeMarco Murray during the first half of a preseason NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Saturday, Aug. 17, 2013, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett applauds his team during the first half of a preseason NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Saturday, Aug. 17, 2013, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant (88) pulls in a pass as Arizona Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson defends during the first half of a preseason NFL football game on Saturday, Aug. 17, 2013, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri) Dallas Cowboys quarterback Kyle Orton (18) hands off to Lance Dunbar during the first half of a preseason NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Saturday, Aug. 17, 2013, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York) Arizona Cardinals kicker Jay Feely (4) boots a field goal as teammate Dave Zastudil holds and Dallas Cowboys defensive back Brandon Underwood (23) defends during the first half of a preseason NFL football game on Saturday, Aug. 17, 2013, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York) Dallas Cowboys' Tony Romo gets off a pass against the Arizona Cardinals in the first half during a preseason NFL football game on Saturday, Aug. 17, 2013, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Dallas Cowboys' Tony Romo passes against the Arizona Cardinals in the first half during a preseason NFL football game on Saturday, Aug. 17, 2013, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Dallas Cowboys' Dez Bryant (88) has the ball stripped away by Arizona Cardinals' Jerraud Powers for a fumble in the first half during a preseason NFL football game on Saturday, Aug. 17, 2013, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Arizona Cardinals quarterback Drew Stanton (5) is sacked by Dallas Cowboys defensive end Ben Bass during the first half of a preseason NFL football game, on Saturday, Aug. 17, 2013, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri) Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Kerry Taylor (18) pulls in a pass as Dallas Cowboys outside linebacker Brandon Magee (46) defends during the first half of a preseason NFL football game on Saturday, Aug. 17, 2013, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri) Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo (9) throws as Arizona Cardinals outside linebacker Sam Acho (94) defends during the first half of a preseason NFL football game on Saturday, Aug. 17, 2013, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri) Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (11) and Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant (88) greet each other during a time out during the first half of a preseason NFL football game on Saturday, Aug. 17, 2013, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri) Arizona Cardinals' Jerraud Powers, decond from right, celebrates his interception with teammates Tyrann Mathieu (32) and Patrick Peterson (21) as Dallas Cowboys' Lance Dunbar, left, looks on in the first half during a preseason NFL football game on Saturday, Aug. 17, 2013, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Arizona Cardinals defensive back Tony Jefferson (36) pulls in an interception as Dallas Cowboys running back Lance Dunbar (25) and James Hanna defend during the first half of a preseason NFL football game on Saturday, Aug. 17, 2013, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri) Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant (88) gains yardage after a catch as Arizona Cardinals cornerback Jerraud Powers (25) defends during the first half of a preseason NFL football game on Saturday, Aug. 17, 2013, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri) Arizona Cardinals' Tony Jefferson (36) collides with teammate Curtis Taylor (26) as Jefferson intercepts a pass intended for Dallas Cowboys' Dwayne Harris (17) in the first half during a preseason NFL football game on Saturday, Aug. 17, 2013, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Arizona Cardinals' Jasper Brinkley, right, recovers a fumble by Dallas Cowboys' Lance Dunbar, left, as Cardinals' Patrick Peterson, back left, looks on in the first half of a preseason NFL football game on Saturday, Aug. 17, 2013, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Fans watch the Dallas Cowboys and the Arizona Cardinals during the second half of a preseason NFL football game on Saturday, Aug. 17, 2013, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York) Arizona Cardinals defensive back Tony Jefferson (36) celebrates his interception against the Dallas Cowboys during the second half of a preseason NFL football game onSaturday, Aug. 17, 2013, in Glendale, Ariz. The Cardinals won 12-7. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri) Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians signals a play against the Dallas Cowboys during the second half of a preseason NFL football game on Saturday, Aug. 17, 2013, in Glendale, Ariz. The Cardinals won 12-7. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri) Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians, left, meets with Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett after a preseason NFL football game on Saturday, Aug. 17, 2013, in Glendale, Ariz. The Cardinals defeated the Cowboys 12-7. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Dallas Cowboys' Joseph Randle (35) tries to get away from Arizona Cardinals' Tony Jefferson (36) just before Jefferson makes the tackle in the second half of a preseason NFL football game on Saturday, Aug. 17, 2013, in Glendale, Ariz. The Cardinals defeated the Cowboys 12-7. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Arizona Cardinals kicker Jay Feely (4) connects for a field goal against the Dallas Cowboys as Dave Zastudil (9) holds in the first half of a preseason NFL football game on Saturday, Aug. 17, 2013, in Glendale, Ariz. The Cardinals defeated the Cowboys 12-7. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Dallas Cowboys' Gavin Escobar (89) celebrates his touchdown with teammate Dante Rosario as Arizona Cardinals' Kevin Minter, left, sits on the ground in the second half of an NFL football game on Saturday, Aug. 17, 2013, in Glendale, Ariz. The Cardinals defeated the Cowboys 12-7. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

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

Quarterback Kyler Murray #1 of the Arizona Cardinals walks off the field following the NFL game at ...
Alex Weiner

Hard Knocks recap: Kyler Murray returns to forefront, Cardinals give back on Thanksgiving

Kyler Murray returned, the Cardinals lost another heartbreaker and several teammates gave back on Thanksgiving in the latest episode.
14 hours ago
Paris Johnson Jr. #77 of the Ohio State Buckeyes in action against the Northwestern Wildcats during...
Tyler Drake

Cardinals nab OL Paris Johnson in Brugler’s 1st mock draft for 2023

The Athletic's Dane Brugler graced us with his first mock of the year on Wednesday and has the Cardinals taking OSU's Paris Johnson at No. 7.
2 days ago
GLENDALE, ARIZONA - SEPTEMBER 20: Quarterback Kyler Murray #1 of the Arizona Cardinals is congratul...
Arizona Sports

Kyler Murray calls out Patrick Peterson for condemning comments made on podcast

Cardinals QB Kyler Murray let his frustration with former teammate Patrick Peterson calling him out on a podcast known.
2 days ago
Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Andre Baccellia (82) pulls in a pass for a touchdown in front of Ci...
Tyler Drake

Arizona Cardinals re-sign WR Andre Baccellia to practice squad

The Arizona Cardinals re-signed wide receiver Andre Baccellia to the team's practice squad on Wednesday morning.
2 days ago
Arizona Cardinals S Jalen Thompson points during practice on Friday, Sept. 16, 2022, in Tempe. (Tyl...
Tyler Drake

Arizona Cardinals’ Jalen Thompson left off ESPN’s under-25 ranking

Safety Jalen Thompson has been a constant within the Arizona Cardinals defense over the past couple seasons.
2 days ago
Arizona Cardinals QB Kyler Murray looks on during practice on Friday, Nov. 25, 2022, in Tempe. (Tyl...
Tyler Drake

Arizona Cardinals enter Week 13 with minute chance at making 2022 NFL playoffs

Mathematically, the Arizona Cardinals somehow still have a sliver of postseason hope remaining in the 2022 season.
3 days ago
Arizona Cardinals defense looking to become ‘scary’ in 2013