Cardinals’ pass defense is fatal flaw entering postseason

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  • Arizona Cardinals
    Arizona Cardinals
    LiveTodayTomorrowvs--|
  • Robert Alford
    Robert Alford
    American football player, defensive back
  • Marco Wilson
    Marco Wilson
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The Arizona Cardinals limped into the postseason losing four of their final games, although they were 11-6 and were within one game of winning the NFC West. They will open the postseason on the road against the Los Angeles Rams, who ended up being the division winners.

They are a long way from the team that started 7-0 and looked like it was going to roll all the way to a championship.

Now they have some flaws.

What is their fatal flaw? According to Touchdown Wire’s Doug Farrar, it is their fading pass defense.

Stop us if you’ve heard this before: There were issues with the Cardinals’ offense in the second half of the season. Arizona’s passing game, dealing with injuries to Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins and other key players, fell from third in the first half of 2021 to 22nd in Weeks 10-18. Murray and his crew showed improvement against the Cowboys and Seahawks at the end of the season, so we’ll assume for now that Kliff Kingsbury and his guys have it on lock.

Because the real issue with this team comes on the other side of the ball right now. Since Week 10, Arizona has fallen from second to 19th in Defensive DVOA, and from second to 28th (ugh) in Pass Defense DVOA. As much as the offense has been up-and-down, that pass defense has been a primary reason the Cards went from 8-1 to 11-6. Arizona has allowed 14 touchdowns to just 14 interceptions since Week 10, and their QBR allowed of 102.3 is the fourth-worst in the league over that time. Underrated safety Jalen Thompson has been a much-needed bastion of consistently as all around him has fallen apart, and it’s time for the rest of the guys in that secondary to step up, and replicate what we saw in the first half of the season.

The issues they are having on defense are simply because of personnel losses. When cornerback Robert Alford went down with a pectoral injury, it required the Cardinals to test their questionable depth. Alford had been their most consistently solid player at the position all season. Rookie Marco Wilson, who has not been great but has made few coverage errors, then went down with a shoulder injury, leaving the Cardinals with a cornerback trio of Byron Murphy, Antonio Hamilton and Kevin Peterson.

They lost players in the front seven as well. J.J. Watt has not played since Week 7 and Jordan Phillips has missed the last three with a knee injury.

Watt could return for the first round of the playoffs and Wilson expects to be back, but Alford appears to be out at least another week.

Can they survive the Rams?

We will find out Monday night.

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