Like the offense, the Cardinals defense enjoyed a very good year. They were solid against the pass and the run, they got plenty of turnovers, scored several touchdowns and played a huge role in every win throughout the season. That’s largely due to the amount of talent they have on their roster. Tyrann Mathieu, Patrick Peterson, Deone Bucannon, Calais Campbell and now Chandler Jones all come up with big plays, but there are plenty of lower profile players on the defense primed to contribute, and Markus Golden is near the top of that list.
That Cardinals pass rush has struggled a bit in the last few years, but it was significantly improved last year with the resurgence of Dwight Freeney, exotic blitzes and a decent input from Golden, last year’s second round pick. He had 4 sacks and two forced fumbles, which is not the highest sack total ever, but he came up with plenty of pressures and he did improve more and more over the course of the season under the guidance of Freeney.
Now, with Freeney out of town and with an extra year under his belt, he’ll be expected to make a big jump for the Cardinals. The scheme is going to be the same, with plenty of blitzes, but this year they will also have Chandler Jones, who led the Patriots last year in sacks with 12.
Now that the Cardinals defense is armed with another Pro Bowl defensive player, who will command double teams, offenses will struggle to deal with Golden on top of that as he flashed plenty of ability last year. With more one on one opportunities he will likely thrive, and it would not at all surprise me if we saw his sack total double. Maybe even more.