The Arizona Cardinals began training camp on Friday for one of the most anticipated seasons in Phoenix professional sports history.
Coming off the NFC Championship Game loss to the Carolina Panthers last season, the Cardinals addressed a big need in the offseason by acquiring pass rusher Chandler Jones from the New England Patriots.
According to ESPN’s Josh Weinfuss, this was Arizona’s most important offseason move.
Bringing back every player who caught a pass from quarterback Carson Palmer and every offensive player who scored a touchdown is nearly unheard of. But by adding Jones, Arizona plugged the one gap that was a liability last season: rushing the passer. Jones had 12.5 sacks last season, so a repeat performance has become almost expected out of the 26-year-old. The Cardinals now have as stout of a pass rush as it does an offense, all thanks to Jones.
The Cardinals’ offense ranked second in points per game (30.6), first in total yards per game (408.3), second in passing yards per game (288.5) and eighth in rushing yards per game (119.8). So bringing back everyone that contributed to that high-octane offense was a major plus for a team with Super Bowl aspirations.
But adding Jones, who amassed 12.5 sacks in 2015, to a defense that was tied for 20th in the league in sacks (36) is the type of move that puts teams over the top. Arizona’s sack leader was Dwight Freeney (8), who was signed by the team in mid-October.
If Jones can replicate last year’s success with the Patriots, the acquisition might not have only been the best offseason move by the Cardinals, but by any team in the league.
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