The Arizona Cardinals hope to ride a vastly improved defense to a playoff berth in the harsh NFC playoff picture. The team won ten games in 2013 and still that wasn’t enough to supplant division foes Seattle or San Francisco. Now they’re hoping to flip the script and take someone’s spot in 2014. While Arizona’s defense has been strong, their latest preseason game against the Minnesota Vikings exposed a fatal flaw from the 2013: the Cardinals’ struggles to defend a receiving tight end.
John Weinfuss from ESPN.com writes that the Cardinals picked right up where they left off in 2013 by allowing Kyle Rudolph to run wild in Minnesota.
Minnesota’s Kyle Rudolph caught four of his five targets for 89 yards and a touchdown. On his touchdown, Rudolph sliced through the Cards’ secondary basically untouched for 51 yards. He would’ve scored on the drive before when he beat rookie safety Deone Bucannon in the back right corner of the end zone but the pass went off Rudolph’s hands.
This is a problem that was originally noted last season by local reporters and has yet to be fixed. Bucannon, the team’s first round pick, is hoping to be the guy to help solve this problem, but rookie defensive backs rarely have the impact on a defense that coaches and fans hope for. Instead, stopping the tight end will have to come from a scheme by the Arizona coaches in order to address that soft spot in the defense.
The Cardinals allowed the 6th fewest total yards in the league, so the defense isn’t far from being a dominant force. They just need to address their own flaws, make sure they’re not overcompensating, and get the proper support from the offense. If they can get that, expect the Cardinals to once again contend for an NFC playoff spot.
Tags: Arizona Cardinals