Cards' 2009 Tasks: Improve Pass Defense

Rounding out a four-part series focusing on where the Arizona Cardinals must improve during the upcoming season, Brad Wilbricht moves on to the Cardinals' pass defense. Arizona allowed several big plays down the field a year ago and its opponents often moved the ball at will through the air. In order for the Cardinals to contend again in 2009, the team must solidify its pass defense.

While it's not the most pressing area of need for the Arizona Cardinals, the team's pass defense must show improvement heading into the 2009 campaign. The Cardinals return the services of CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie who has a chance to develop into a shut-down corner at the NFL level. In addition, Arizona signed former Pittsburgh Steelers CB Bryant McFadden to a multi-year contract this offseason.

After parting ways with Roderick Hood and Eric Green, 2008's opening day starters at cornerback, the Cardinal faithful were questioning the legitimacy of their secondary. However, a more experienced Cromartie entering his second season and the addition of McFadden should pose as quite an upgrade on the perimeter. Arizona also stands to benefit from an outstanding tandem of safeties consisting of SS Adrian Wilson and FS Antrel Rolle.


The Cardinals' pass defense ranked 22nd in the NFL last season, allowing 221 yards per game through the air. Furthermore, Arizona's secondary was torched for 36 touchdown passes, the most given up in the league. Opposing quarterbacks were optimistic when squaring off against the Cardinals' defense which rendered a 96.9 QB rating. Only two teams faired worse, Denver (98.5) and Detroit (110.9).

Much of that damage came in lopsided losses against the New York Jets, New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles, Minnesota Vikings and New England Patriots. In those five games, Arizona allowed nearly 260 yards per game through the air and 20 touchdown passes. It's vital for the teams secondary to become more consistent and eliminate lapses such as they experienced a year ago.

With the NFC West shaping up to be a much more competitive division, the Cardinals' defense as a whole will be depended on more extensively. It's essential for first-year defensive coordinator Bill Davis to identify his units' strengths prior to the season in order to scheme efficiently throughout the year. Davis takes over for the departed Clancy Pendergast who now controls the defense for the Kansas City Chiefs.

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