Cardinals Defense Ranked Worst in NFL

Bleacher Report says the Arizona Cardinals have the worst defense in the NFL.
Arizona Cardinals linebackers BJ Ojulari (9) and Zaven Collins (25) during organized team activities at the Dignity Health Arizona Cardinals Training Center in Tempe on June 3, 2024.
Arizona Cardinals linebackers BJ Ojulari (9) and Zaven Collins (25) during organized team activities at the Dignity Health Arizona Cardinals Training Center in Tempe on June 3, 2024. / Rob Schumacher/The Republic / USA TODAY
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The Arizona Cardinals finished with one of the worst defensive units in the league last season.

Such is life when the Cardinals hit the reset button and fire the coaching staff/front office and tough decisions are made from the jump, though it's not as if the Cardinals fielded All-Pro's across the field before owner Michael Bidwill hit the red button.

2023 saw a massive youth movement occur on that side of the ball, and there's hope that the minds of head coach Jonathan Gannon and coordinator Nick Rallis can show a leap defensively this season.

Arizona didn't land any big fish in free agency, though four of their top five contracts awarded on the open market were on defense (the lone offensive player was Jonah Williams). The Cardinals also spent two of their top three picks on the defensive side of the ball in the 2024 NFL Draft.

Resources were allocated to help balance the overall outlook of the team moving forward, though the Cardinals enter 2024 with the league's worst defense according to Bleacher Report.

"As the team's 4-13 record would imply, the Arizona Cardinals had a lot of issues last season—and a defense that allowed the second-most points per game (26.8) was one of them. Based on the Cardinals' moves this offseason, that likely won't change much, if at all, this year," wrote Matt Holder.

"In free agency, the team needed to add talent at defensive tackle and brought in Bilal Nichols and Justin Jones on three-year contracts totaling $21 million and $30.2 million, respectively. However, that may not have been money well spent.

"Nichols is known as more of a pass-rusher but is coming off a two-year run with Las Vegas, where he totaled just three sacks. Meanwhile, Jones posted grades from Pro Football Focus in the 40s during his two seasons with the Bears."

Many had hoped Arizona would pursue big name defensive lineman Christian Wilkins, though the Cardinals opted to spread the wealth along the defensive line. In a front where defensive lineman are rotated heavily, Arizona brought in essentially a new defensive line compared to the last two years.

Holder continued:

"Rookie Darius Robinson projects as the Cardinals' best interior defensive lineman, and relying on a late-first-round pick to lead the unit as a rookie is a risky proposition. Also, the team lacks talent at edge-rusher and is hoping second-year pro BJ Ojulari takes a big step this season after Ojulari didn't make a single start in 2023."

Robinson likely won't be a starter from Day 1, and he certainly won't be asked to lead the room off the bat. Jones has already assumed a leadership role in the desert despite being a new face. Holder is correct in pinpointing Arizona's massive hope Ojulari or Zaven Collins can make a big leap in 2024.

Holder concluded with:

"In the secondary, Arizona does have a good safety duo in Budda Baker and Jalen Thompson, but its cornerbacks are questionable.

"Sean Murphy-Bunting was the front office's biggest acquisition in free agency at corner, and Murphy-Bunting has been average at best throughout his career. Additionally, the team lost Antonio Hamilton, who was its best cornerback last season, so the addition comes out to a wash.

"Second-round pick Max Melton is projected to start on the other side, while second-year pro Garrett Williams mans the nickel spot, so this position group will be very young for Arizona in 2024."

The Cardinals indeed have a young secondary, and admittably so, the youth could still be a problem for Arizona through next season with Murphy-Bunting walking in as the lead veteran.

That's not a slight to SMB, who was a big player for Tampa Bay's championship run a few years prior, and for what it's worth, Arizona isn't exactly losing sleep after Hamitlon departed this offseason.

Time will tell if the Cardinals' overall youth and talent can outweigh their inexperience.

Arizona finished with teams such as the New York Giants, Carolina Panthers, Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos in the bottom five for B/R.


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Donnie Druin

DONNIE DRUIN

Donnie Druin is the Publisher for All Cardinals and Inside The Suns. Donnie moved to Arizona in 2012 and has been with Fan Nation since 2018. In college he won "Best Sports Column" in the state of Arizona for his section and has previously provided coverage for the Pittsburgh Steelers and Arizona State Sun Devils. Follow Donnie on Twitter @DonnieDruin for more news, updates, analysis and more!