The Arizona Cardinals defense struggled last season, ranking 23rd against the pass and 30th against the run.
Those numbers were as disappointing as they were horrifying.
With players like Darnell Dockett, Calais Campbell, Joey Porter, Clark Haggans, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Adrian Wilson and Kerry Rhodes on the team, there would appear to be little reason for the Cards defense to be among the league’s worst.
But they were.
Calais Campbell, one of the players who did not play up to expectations, thinks he knows why things didn’t go well. He told Pro Football Focus it was about chemistry.
“A lot of games we were in sync and we played well, and we were out of sync we really struggled and we got blown up,” he said.
Campbell mentioned the Saints game, where the Cardinals won because of their defense (and not NFC Rookie of the Week Max Hall’s exploits, no matter what people wanted you to believe at the time), but also mentioned the team’s Week 3 meltdown in San Diego, where the Cards got blasted 41-10.
“When it comes down to it, it’s just confidence in each other and being in sync and play with chemistry,” he said. “It stinks with the way the off season is this year because we miss out on a lot of opportunities to build our relationships.”
Good or bad, depending on how you look at it, the defense will return largely in tact. They integrated a lot of new pieces last year, and the unfamiliarity may have led to some of the struggles.
That won’t be an excuse this year, though, and if the Cardinals are to return to the playoffs they’ll need the defense to step up and actually stop someone.