Cardinals need Darnell Dockett to step up in 2011

Aug 19, 2011, 6:13 PM | Updated: 7:42 pm

Expectations for Darnell Dockett in 2010 were higher than Willie Nelson and Snoop Dogg would be if they shared a tour bus. Despite the high hopes — no pun intended — the defensive lineman didn’t quite live up to the hype.

While Dockett didn’t play horribly last year, Sports 620 KTAR’s Doug Franz thinks he certainly wasn’t the player he wants everyone to think he is.

“Darnell Dockett was not awful last year; he was just kind of there,” Franz told Doug and Wolf listeners Friday morning. “Darnell Dockett is not paid to just be there. Dockett is paid to be elite. He demands an elite contract. He demands the attention of an elite player. He wants to be known as one of the greats of the game and he was just there.”

While Franz viewed Dockett’s performance as just being there, it’s all a matter of perspective. In 15 games the defensive end had the second most tackles of his career (52), the most solo tackles of his career (45) and his third highest sack total of his career (5.0), all while facing double teams throughout the season.

The quality of his performance in 2010 can be debated but one thing that can’t is the fact that Dockett needs to step up in 2011 if the Cardinals want to get back to the top of the NFC West.

“This team has to have the old school Pro Bowl Darnell Dockett,” Franz said. “He needs to be one of the elite defensive ends in the league. Last year he did not play like it.”

If Dockett can become the player that people expected him to be last season and that he’s wanted to be since the beginning of his career, the Cardinals’ depleted secondary will benefit greatly. The more pressure he and Calais Campbell can get on quarterbacks this season the less pressure a secondary unfamiliar with each will have on them.

There is no doubt that Dockett knows how to talk at a superstar level — just look at his Twitter account for proof — the question is whether or not the rest of him can play at that level. The 2011 season will be his chance to provide us with the answer.

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