The Arizona Cardinals have had a rough offseason in the secondary and it just got worse. Projected starting cornerback Mike Jenkins suffered a torn ACL this past week against the Texans and now Arizona is scrambling to find a player to start across from Patrick Peterson.
Jenkins isn’t the first loss for this secondary, either. Starting safety Rashad Johnson left for Tennessee in free agency, starting cornerback Jerraud Powers signed with the Ravens in free agency, and defensive back Tyrann Mathieu is still recovering from a torn ACL and has yet to play in the preseason.
While Mathieu is expected to start in week 1 against the New England Patriots, he won’t have the time to shake off the rust that comes with extended periods of missed time.
The number two cornerback position for the Cardinals now goes to Justin Bethel and rookie Brandon Williams. Bethel is returning from a foot injury and did not look good against the Texans.
The trickle down effect of these injuries is important, too, because it means that the Patriots receivers will each face less talented opposition and will pick up an increased advantage in each match-up.
Of course, this requires quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to step up and deliver the football. Garoppolo did not play well against the Panthers and their secondary is in even worse shape than the Cardinals.
At least Arizona will have Peterson at one spot and some percentage of Mathieu in another. The Panthers changed three of their four starters in the secondary and played two rookies at cornerback- James Bradberry and Daryl Worley.
Garoppolo’s 9 of 15 outing for 57 yards was littered with poor pocket presence and bad decisions, from which he will hopefully learn and improve.
Now the Cardinals defensive front seven is not the same caliber as the Panthers’, and that should help out Garoppolo in the pocket. The Carolina linebackers did a great job removing easy passes in the middle of the field and limiting tight ends, forcing Garoppolo to hold the ball. The Panthers pass rush is also superior to the Cardinals’, even with the addition of former Patriot Chandler Jones.
Hopefully the Patriots offensive line will buy enough time for Garoppolo to get into a rhythm so he can pick apart the Cardinals secondary. But just because the Arizona secondary is not in the best place does not mean that the Patriots will shred them in week 1. Garoppolo still has a lot of work to do.