Cards D had clear path to QB in '13

April, 3, 2014
Apr 3
8:30
PM ET
The easiest path from Point A to Point B is a straight line.

It's true in football, but the object of an offensive lineman is to put as many obstacles in the way of a defender from getting from Point A (their starting position) to Point B (the quarterback). Last season, the Arizona Cardinals' defense had the easiest time of any team getting to the quarterback unblocked, according to Pro Football Focus.

The Cardinals had a league-high 82 total unblocked pressures which included 39 hurries, 31 hurries and 12 sacks. Their sack percentage was 14.6 and their knockdown percentage was 52.4.

As PFF explained, teams got to the quarterback unblocked through a few ways -- stunting, blitzing and overloading one side among them. Individually, the Cardinals had two players among the top 15 of total unblocked pressures. Former Arizona inside linebacker Karlos Dansby was sixth in the league with 13 total unblocked pressures -- four sacks, three hits and six hurries -- and outside linebacker John Abraham was tied for seventh with 12 total unblocked pressures -- two sacks, two hits and eight hurries.

Having an inside and outside linebacker reach double figures in unblocked pressures proved Arizona's ability to generate pressure across the defensive front, PFF wrote.

Also, according to PFF, Arizona split its 82 pressures nearly evenly, with 36 coming from the left side of the opposing offense and 46 from the right. The Cardinals also had 23 unblocked pressures through the A-gap which led the NFL, according to PFF. Of those, the Cardinals had 11 hits and five sacks.

As much credit is due to defensive coordinator Todd Bowles as it is the defensive front. His ability to mask schemes and put the talent he inherited and added into the right position gave Arizona the opportunity to be flexible on defense.

Josh Weinfuss

ESPN Arizona Cardinals reporter

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