An impressive series of roster additions could spark a rebound performance from the Arizona Cardinals’ defensive unit in 2019
The Arizona Cardinals’ defense took a huge step backwards last season. Changes were made to the coaching staff this offseason, but an influx of talent on the playing field was needed as well. Apparently, the Cards’ front office agreed with that assessment.
Over the past few months, Arizona general manager Steve Keim has appeared to be on a mission. Significant reinforcements have been added to a defensive unit that was difficult to watch in 2018. In fact, the reconstruction of the group’s personnel actually got underway before last year’s campaign mercifully came to an end.
In late December, on Christmas Day to be exact, the Cardinals brought old friend D.J. Swearinger back to the nest. The club’s recent release of Antoine Bethea opens up a starting spot in the defensive backfield. In steps Swearinger, who will team with Budda Baker to give the squad one of the most exciting safety tandems in the NFL.
Early last month, the Cards acquired a player who they believe will solidify their number-two cornerback post. Veteran Robert Alford was cut by the Atlanta Falcons on February 5th, and then signed by Keim two days later. The 30-year old easily qualifies as the best partner for Patrick Peterson since 2014, when Antonio Cromartie roamed the Arizona secondary.
Two days after Alford arrived, another ex-Falcon joined the Cardinals’ family. Brooks Reed will serve as an outside linebacker in new coordinator Vance Joseph‘s 3-4 scheme. The former second-round draft pick has racked up 270 tackles and 21.5 sacks during his pro career, and has 86 starts under his belt.
This past Monday, the Cards added a seven-time Pro Bowler to the locker room. Terrell Suggs, who spent 16 seasons as an outside linebacker with the Baltimore Ravens, will likely finish his career in the desert. The 36-year old will likely start opposite Chandler Jones, giving the Redbirds one heck of a pass-rushing punch.
After addressing the outside linebacker position, Keim moved his attention to the inside. Jordan Hicks, formerly of the Philadelphia Eagles, was handed a four-year, $36 million contract. If the 26-year old can stay healthy (Hicks has missed 21 games as a professional), Arizona quite possibly has gotten a steal.
New Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury has brought a load of attention to the offensive side of the ball. That’s bound to happen when an offensive guru is hired to lead the troops. Don’t be surprised, however, if the defense turns out to be the strength of the Cards in 2019.
Source: Raising Zona | Jim Koch