Calais Campbell believes the Cardinals still have a top defense
The Arizona Cardinals had a pretty impressive season in 2013 under new head coach Bruce Arians. The team finished with a 10-6 record and barely missed the playoffs. The biggest bright spot however was the defense.
Bruce Arians decided to release Ray Horton from his role as the teams defensive coordinator, a role he had held for two years under previous head coach Ken Whisenhunt. Horton was a fan favorite and many fans predicted a decline in defensive production under new coordinator Todd Bowles.
The decline didn’t happen and the naysayers were soon eating humble pie as Bowles established a defense that in many ways was better than the unit Horton had. Bowles’ defense was ranked sixth in total yards, first against the run and 11th against the pass.
And he achieved this with a unit that had pretty much been demolished and hastily rebuilt through free agency.
Fast forward to the 2014 off-season and Bowles has already been dealt two severe blows to his defensive unit in the form of Karlos Dansby and Daryl Washington. Dansby left the team via free agency and joined the Cleveland Browns. Washington was busted for the second time in a year for breaking the NFL’s substance abuse policy. Washington was subsequently suspended for the entire 2014 season.
Another important piece in the machine that was the Cardinals defense was Tyrann Mathieu who suffered a torn ACL and LCL in Week 14 against the Rams. Mathieu is not expected to be back with the team for at least the first month of the season.
Yet despite these losses, Cardinals defensive end Calais Campbell remains optimistic that the Cardinals still have a top defensive unit.
“We have Kevin Minter stepping up, who did great for us, but we’re still talented all the way around,” defensive end Calais Campbell told Trey Wingo of ESPN’s NFL Live on Thursday. “The defensive line, DBs, keep the job easier. John Abraham, he had a good year last year. We’ll still be a top defense. And offense got way better this year.”
The Cardinals also added linebackers Larry Foote, Ernie Sims and cornerback Antonio Cromartie They will also be reunited with linebackers Lorenzo Alexander, Sam Acho and Alex Okafor who missed the majority of the 2013 season with injury.
While the loss of Dansby and Washington will hurt, it won’t be the end of the world. Bowles has already proven that he can build a defense from scratch and with so many players from the 2013 roster returning, it will be easier to do.