PFF: Cardinals had fifth-best defensive front seven in 2016

Jan 17, 2017, 5:10 PM
free agency...
Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff is sacked by Arizona Cardinals outside linebacker Markus Golden, right, and defensive end Calais Campbell during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Jan. 1, 2017, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
(AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Of all the things that went wrong for the Arizona Cardinals in 2016, their defensive front seven really was not one of them.

The group, which was led by Calais Campbell, Chandler Jones, Markus Golden, Corey Peters, Kevin Minter and Deone Buccanon — with contributions from many others — excelled at getting after the quarterback and stopping the run.

The Cardinals ultimately led the NFL in sacks, with 48, and were tied for second in allowing opponents to average just 3.6 yards per rush.

They were good — quite good — and according to ProFootballFocus, the Cardinals boasted the fifth-best defensive front seven in the entire NFL.

Top overall grade: DE Calais Campbell, 90.4

Lowest overall grade: DT Corey Peters, 73.8

The Cardinals’ defense finally got something they’d been missing for some time—an edge rush. Unfortunately, it just so happened to coincide with the collapse of their secondary. Chandler Jones had a career year, finishing with the seventh-highest grade of any edge player, while Markus Golden made the second-year leap, finishing 24th. As a whole, Arizona recorded the highest pressure rate of any team in the NFL, at 40.15 percent.

Golden led the Cardinals with 12.5 sacks, while Jones notched 11 and Campbell eight. Campbell also led the Cardinals in QB hits and QB pressures with 27 and 26, respectively.

As for Peters getting the lowest overall grade, his statistics did not jump off the page, with 30 tackles, 13 QB pressures and two QB hits, but his ability to play in 15 games — with 14 starts — after missing 2015 with an Achilles injury led to head coach Bruce Arians calling him “the unsung hero up front.” Of the four teams ranked ahead of the Cardinals, each squad’s lowest graded player was significantly worse than Peters, and of all teams, only Tennessee (ranked 13th overall) had a higher graded player in the lowest spot.

As for the four teams ahead of the Cardinals, two reside in their own division, with the Seattle Seahawks (1) and Los Angeles Rams (4) joining the Philadelphia Eagles (2) and Carolina Panthers (3) to round out the top five.

Arizona Cardinals

Arizona Cardinals defensive tackle Corey Peters (98) walks out before an NFL game between the Arizo...
Nikash Nath

PFF’s Doug Kyed advises Arizona Cardinals to bring back DL Corey Peters

With the Cardinals' current roster construction, PFF's Doug Kyed believes Arizona should bring DL Corey Peters back once more in 2022.
9 hours ago
Ohio State Buckeyes offensive lineman Paris Johnson Jr. (77) protects his quarterback during the fi...
Sam Graveline

Cardinals take OT Paris Johnson Jr. in ESPN 2023 NFL mock draft

ESPN's Matt Miller thinks the Cardinals will beef up the offensive line in his first 2023 mock by selecting Ohio State OT Paris Johnson Jr.
2 days ago
Arizona Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury, right, and Byron Murphy Jr. (7) celebrate after an NFL foo...
Wills Rice’s Patra ranks Cardinals’ cornerbacks among weakest rooms in league

The Cardinals enter training camp with a few question marks personnel-wise on the defensive side of the ball, especially at cornerback.
3 days ago
Nick Scott #33 of the Los Angeles Rams tackles Zach Ertz #86 of the Arizona Cardinals after a recep...
Sam Graveline

PFF: Tight end shaping up to be biggest position battle for Arizona Cardinals

The Arizona Cardinals head into training camp expecting to have healthy competition at a handful of positions, including at tight end.
4 days ago
Kyler Murray #1 of the Arizona Cardinals celebrates with fans after beating the Houston Texans 31-5...
Arizona Sports

Cardinals Corner: The timeframe of Kyler Murray’s contract extension

We haven't heard much lately when it comes down to Cardinals QB Kyler Murray and a contract extension. When will a new deal get done?
4 days ago
Markus Golden #44 of the Arizona Cardinals reacts to a defensive play during the first half against...
Nikash Nath

Cardinals LB Markus Golden among players with best team-friendly deals

Arizona Cardinals LB Markus Golden's contract cracked PFF analyst Brad Spielberger's top team-friendly deals ranking.
4 days ago
PFF: Cardinals had fifth-best defensive front seven in 2016