It seems almost certain now the Cards will stick with Joseph. At times the defense played well. If they can figure out how to overcome a few issues they might be more consistent. Joseph came up with a blitz strategy that brought a bunch of people up to the line hoping the defense couldn’t figure which ones would be rushing the passer. My impression was that it would have worked better if they would have approached it differently. They didn’t feint or move around much. I would like to have seen more stunts. Few Cardinals exhibited enough first step quickness to utilize against any offensive line indecision. The exception might have been Gardeck who seemed to be quick enough to benefit. Also part of the problem was this seemed to be about the only blitz package. On rare occasions they would bring Baker or send Reddick but they definitely need a much more diverse and creative package. The Cards, like most teams, now play quite a bit of zone, especially against running QBs. The problem is the Cards continually exhibited communication problems. Time after time we saw receivers run by a defender who then turned to find no one had picked up that receiver. This happened a little in man, but mostly in zone. One of the ways to beat a zone is for the receiver to “sit down” in one of the zone’s holes. In an effective zone, someone slides to take that receiver. Too often the Cards’ defenders looked at each other, unsure who was responsible for covering. Some of this was due to the extensive personnel changes that health required. Still, since it’s certain they will often play this defense, they need to drill on it until everyone clearly knows their assignment. Then there’s TE coverage, which admittedly was better this year. I’ll take up middle of the field coverage below but in man the Cards use either Baker or Campbell. Sometimes they use both against 2 TE sets. Baker used 2 strategies. He either smothered the tight end with in-your-face coverage or laid back attempting to hit the receiver at the moment of the intended catch. Baker does hit surprisingly hard for his size. Campbell was more physical in coverage and could press cover when needed. My concern is partly that Campbell may not be retained. The Cards are considering going with Hicks & Simmons as ILBs. I think Simmons would be okay in coverage, but it will take experience for him to be fully effective. That brings us to the other TE issue, middle of the field coverage. Hicks is ineffective in coverage, often leaving the middle open. This was especially ineffective when in man Hicks had to cover his man down the field. The further they went, the greater the separation and the easier it was to complete a long pass. This did also impact some RB targeting as well. My feeling is to cut Hicks going with Campbell & Simmons. It may cost a little cap money depending what they can do on a Campbell contract. However, this is a more versatile pairing that can improve defensive flexibility. The injuries to the D-line make it difficult to assess the strategies employed there. Perhaps, for example, Phillips injuries started early, preventing him from getting upfield more. That could have made a huge difference in pass prevention strategies. Peters & Peko are not top anchors in the middle and Fotu is raw. This is a bad draft for DTs, so this will be hard to improve looking at cap space. The best hope is for health & growth. A less significant concern is holding the edge. Golden & to a lesser extent Reddick both tended to get caught inside when the ball went outside. Older fans can remember Simeon Rice who was so intent on hitting the QB, he would literally run by the ball carrier. This wasn’t a huge issue but did cost the Cards a few times, especially on third down. The final piece to this puzzle is the game plan. The Cards seemed befuddled by QBs on whom they had little film. The standard NFL tactic is to pressure them. In the Eagles game the Cards waited until the second half to get aggressive, but it worked. In other similar games they never developed a sense of urgency. Against running QBs the Cards defense seemed to have no sense of controlling running lanes or the edge. Rarely did they use Simmons to spy the QB, though he would seem to be the perfect candidate. These are coaching issues and Joseph must start correcting this stuff if the Cards are to become a dominant defense.