When Arizona Cardinals sack machine Chandler Jones went down with a season-ending biceps injury, the defense took one right in the chest.
Losing not only one of their most talented athletes on the field but also a captain, it was going to be a monumental task to fill the hole left in the wake of his injury.
But instead of floundering, the unit as a whole has stepped up in the absence of Jones, with the defensive line being a major point of emphasis through seven games of the season.
Despite losing the outside linebacker, the Cardinals have recorded 19 sacks, just three fewer than they did over the same span in 2019. What’s even more glaring is that Jones contributed just one of those sacks the team has tallied this year.
It’s surely a positive sign, but for Cardinals linebacker Haason Reddick, the unit’s doing exactly what it’s supposed to, with or without Jones.
“I’m very impressed, but it’s expected,” Cardinals linebacker Haason Reddick told reporters via Zoom on Tuesday. “(Chandler) is a great pass-rusher, everybody knows that — one of the best in the league, if not, the best. It’s heartbreaking to see what happened to Chan, but because he’s out, there can’t be (any) shortage in production.
“Everybody else has to step up and I think we have been doing that as a unit, going out there and putting the pressure on QBs. I think that it’s something that we can continue to do.”
Entering their bye week, the Cardinals rank seventh in the NFL in total sacks, with Reddick leading all Cardinals with five. It’s truly been a team effort getting to the quarterback this season, as 10 players have at least one sack. Of those 10, five players are tied with two sacks.
Unfortunately for the Cardinals, another injury will force the team to adapt.
Defensive lineman Zach Allen was placed on injured reserve Tuesday with an ankle injury he suffered in the team’s Sunday Night Football win over the Seattle Seahawks. Allen, who has the possibility of returning in three weeks, has one sack to go along with 11 tackles.
A reinforcement is on the way, however, in OLB Markus Golden.
Golden returns to the Cardinals after spending the last season and a half with the New York Giants. The linebacker recorded 10.0 sacks in 2019, but has just 1.5 to his name this season.
A big reason for that could be the amount of playing time Golden was receiving before he was traded, as Golden saw just 175 defensive snaps (36%) for the Giants this season.
Now he heads back to the Valley, a place where he’s not only seen a double-digit sack total, but also a place he’s familiar with.
“Great guy, great player, great teammate, great attitude,” Reddick said. “He’s relentless, Junk is relentless. He plays the game hard and he has a dog mentality. He wants to be one of the best, so I’m happy to have him here. I know he can make an impact right away.
“I can’t wait to see him, get back on the field and get to see him flying around and get to play with him again.”