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Posts tagged with "Karlos Dansby"

Fourth quarter woes that cost team in losses weren’t a problem on Sunday

Cardinals outside linebacker Chandler Jones tackles 49ers quarterback Brian Hoyer on Sunday.
When crunch time came in past years, the Cardinals’ defense was usually the one dropping the hammer.

But in fourth quarter losses to the Lions and Cowboys earlier this season, it was the one getting squashed. The Cardinals were determined to get back to their late-game ways, and did so in Sunday’s 18-15 overtime win over the 49ers.

The defense didn’t allow a first down in the fourth quarter to give the offense every chance to win the game, and even though that didn’t happen, it didn’t break. San Francisco got the ball first in overtime and put together an impressive drive, but the Cardinals forced a field goal near the goal-line when a touchdown would have ended it.

“That,” linebacker Karlos Dansby said, “is how we’re supposed to play.”

The Cardinals led by two in the fourth quarter against Detroit but gave up a pair of touchdowns in just over five minutes as Detroit took control. Last week, the Cowboys broke open a tie game with 14 points in a seven-minute span in the fourth. The 49ers, meanwhile, scored three points in the final 29 minutes of this contest.

“We made it a big emphasis, that in that fourth quarter, that’s when we’ve got to rise up,” money linebacker Deone Bucannon said. “The first three quarters, we were lights out those first three games. … I’m happy we came out with the win. We played all four quarters.”

The defense has to be the engine for the Cardinals right now because of all the injuries and inconsistency on the other side of the ball (though it did suffer one of its own when linebacker Markus Golden left the game late with a knee injury). Success has shown up in spurts throughout 2017 but there have been too many lapses.

Red zone woes were a big problem through the first three games, as the Cardinals were last in the league, allowing touchdowns on 87.5 percent of possessions inside the 20. They didn’t allow the 49ers in the end zone at all on Sunday, allowing for the late-game heroics by Larry Fitzgerald.

“They didn’t give up any touchdowns, so that’s a pretty good day,” coach Bruce Arians said.

The Cardinals only had one takeaway – an interception by safety Antoine Bethea – but came close to a couple others. Cornerback Justin Bethel couldn’t corral a pass early in the game, and Dansby didn’t see another heading his way until it was too late.

Bettcher now can play some games on the defensive side of the ball.

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

James Bettcher has been experimenting with zone coverages the past couple of years, but thanks to some untimely assignment miscommunications and less than requisite speed at the linebacker position, the efforts to incorporate more zone looks into the Cardinals‘ defense have been thwarted.

However, with the additions of Karlos Dansby and Haason Reddick to the defense, Bettcher suddenly has the kind of speed, flexibility and athleticism it takes to play effective zone coverage. Dansby’s experience and his uncanny sense of where the ball is going makes him an asset in zone coverage. With Reddick, Bettcher gets a superior athlete who can drop into the hook zones and converge on a WR or RB with dispatch. In addition, Bettcher can send Reddick on blitzes and drop the now lighter and more spry Chandler Jones into coverage.

On the perimeter, Patrick Peterson and Justin Bethel have the speed to take away their deep thirds of the field and at times Bettcher can roll one of them up to disguise man to man and then rotate the safeties over the top. On one zone play during the pre-season, Peterson nearly intercepted a deep pass that normally a QB would not throw in his direction because the coverage was well disguised.

The safeties, Mathieu, Branch and Bethea, are interchangeable, just as Bettcher likes his safeties to be and thus Bettcher can have Honey Badger blitz on one play, dog the flat on the next, and play over the top on the following. The safety roles in the zone schemes are also made to order for the intuitive Budda Baker and speedy Rudy Ford.

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The news Deone Bucannon won’t play Sunday — not a huge shock, even without the setback of an ankle sprain — puts on hold what the Cardinals will do with rookie Haason Reddick when Bucannon, Reddick and Karlos Dansby are all available. Reddick will be needed to play in Bucannon’s role, at least in certain packages.

But it also goes to that concern lingering as soon as the Cards cut to 53 and, at least outwardly, the team only kept three outside linebackers. What about depth? What about a fourth behind Markus Golden, Chandler Jones and Kareem Martin? Coach Bruce Arians mentioned that veteran Philip Wheeler, signed as an inside linebacker, worked in practice recently on the outside and can play both spots. Defensive lineman Josh Mauro has occasionally taken reps at OLB and could serve there in a pinch, especially on running downs. But then there is Reddick.

Reddick, who played defensive end in college, slowly has gotten some reps as an outside ‘backer to build on his work on the inside. And once Bucannon is back, Reddick makes the most sense as a dual-threat guy, someone who can play on the inside in certain packages, who can rush the passer in certain packages, and who can also serve as that fourth guy behind Golden, Jones and Martin.

Again, versatility has been one of the hallmarks of the players GM Steve Keim has sought, especially on the defense. The linemen can play anywhere. The linebackers, mostly, can switch around. The defensive backs are interchangeable. That is how the Cards will solve that fourth OLB issue.

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Karlos Dansby, veteran linebacker and southern gentleman (he’s from Birmingham, Alabama), was asked about adding a Chick-Fil-A store to the new Atlanta Falcons stadium and how Chick-Fil-A will still be closed on Sundays, even there. Los had a lot to say.

“That ain’t right, man. That ain’t right,” Dansby said with a grin. “How do you do something like that? You put a Chick-Fil-A in the stadium, and y’all play on Sundays. It just don’t add up. Know what I’m saying? Everybody is going to be expecting Chick-Fil-A to be open on Sunday at the game. That’s tough, man. I feel sorry for the people. That’s embarrassing. You can’t do that to the fans. It’s not right. Hey man, it’s not right. Hopefully, Chick-Fil-A will step their game up.”

It should be noted that the Cardinals’ game this weekend at brand-new Mercedes Benz Stadium — literally brand-new, since Cardinals-Falcons will be the first event held there — is on Saturday. Los can get some sweet tea if he wants.

— Left guard Mike Iupati left practice early on after trainers were looking at his right elbow/arm. Cole Toner took his spot on the first unit. Receiver Brittan Golden and linebacker Josh Bynes were back limited. Linebacker Philip Wheeler (foot) isn’t back, but he was in uniform with helmet when he was running rehab sprints.

— Wide receiver John Brown did well in his only practice of the week (he is headed to a funeral back home in Florida and will meet the team in Atlanta). He was in the mix through the entire practice and afterward said he was feeling better and wanted to play Saturday. At this point, I’d be surprised if he did not.

— Practices this week are more like the regular season, with scout offenses and defenses prepping the other side of the ball for the opponent. So the actual play isn’t quite like we’ve seen earlier in camp.

— The Cardinals closed with length-of-field two-minute drill work. It was apparently cleared with strength and conditioning coach Buddy Morris, who with his staff monitors the players’ steps to make sure they don’t over-extend themselves. Larry Fitzgerald good-naturedly called Morris out for letting it happen. Then Fitzgerald delivered his normal “punishment” — a Fitz sneak-attack tackle.

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Bad tackling, missing inside linebackers among the issues on Saturday

Bears running back Tarik Cohen reeled off several big gains against the Cardinals’ starting defense on Saturday night.
Bruce Arians doesn’t like to make snap judgments about what goes on near the line of scrimmage right after a game.

The Cardinals’ coach has a poor view into that muddled mess from the sidelines, and will often defer until he sees the tape.

So it was a bad thing when he had a strong postgame reaction to the first unit’s run defense in Saturday night’s 24-23 preseason loss to the Bears. Chicago running back Tarik Cohen regularly popped to the second level, finishing with 11 carries for 77 yards, including gains of 9, 16, 16, and 25 yards.

“Hell, yeah,” Arians said when asked if he was concerned about Cohen’s success. “You don’t want to see anyone run 10-, 15-yard runs against any of our defenses, especially against our number ones.”

The Cardinals have been consistently strong against the run in Bruce Arians’ four seasons, finishing in the top-three in yards per attempt allowed in both 2013 and 2016.

However, there is some worry after the departure of defensive tackle Calais Campbell and linebacker Kevin Minter, two of the team’s best run defenders a season ago, and Saturday’s performance won’t assuage those fears. Nose tackle Corey Peters was frustrated with the results, but believes it is just a blip, not a sign of things to come.

“We’ve been working hard throughout camp, which has been three or four weeks at this point, and I think we’ve been consistently doing well,” Peters said. “I’m anxious to get to the film and kind of pinpoint where we struggled. I’m sure we’ll get it fixed. This is a strong group and everybody’s honest. We’ll take a good look at ourselves and refocus and come back at it.”

Some of the issues can be attributed to the youth at inside linebacker during the game. Scooby Wright and Haason Reddick started with veterans Karlos Dansby (leg) and Deone Bucannon(ankle) still on the shelf with injuries.

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Despite loss of five starters, expectations remain high for talented group

Cardinals defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche is playing better this season and is hoping to cement a key role on defense.
There was a great deal of hand-wringing in the first few weeks of free agency when one defensive starter after another departed the Cardinals.

By the time the dust settled, five of them– defensive tackle Calais Campbell, safety Tony Jefferson, cornerback Marcus Cooper, safety D.J. Swearinger and linebacker Kevin Minter — were gone from a group that finished second in total defense in 2016.

While General Manager Steve Keim signed linebacker Karlos Dansby and safety Antoine Bethea to help cushion the blow, the losses were still significant. The question among critics wasn’t if the defense would dip in 2017, but how much.

“We lost a lot of great players,” nose tackle Corey Peters said. “And that’s good for them. They got opportunities to go and make some money, and as a player and a friend, I like to see people maximizing their potential and get the opportunities they deserve. But as far as we go, we were just focused on the guys that were here.”

The potential repercussions from such significant upheaval cannot be discounted, but there is also an alternate conclusion to consider: the 2017 Cardinals defense could again be among the NFL’s best.

While Campbell is gone, the team returns a pair of premium pass-rushers in Chandler Jones and Markus Golden, who had more combined sacks (23½) than any other duo in the NFL. The Cardinals also have Patrick Peterson, an elite cornerback, and a healthy Tyrann Mathieu, a Defensive Player of the Year candidate last time he was unshackled.

In the end, the unit’s success could hinge greatly on three things: the return to form of Mathieu and money linebacker Deone Bucannon (who is still recovering from offseason ankle surgery); the play of the starting cornerback opposite Peterson; and the progress of defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche, safety Budda Baker and inside linebacker Haason Reddick.

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The Arizona Cardinals could continue to add to an already talented linebacker corps

The new acquisitions of the Arizona Cardinals in the 2017 offseason are full of potential. Two of the players added are linebackers, Karlos Dansby and Jarvis Jones. With a lineup that already features Marcus Golden, Chandler Jones and linebacker/safety Deone Bucannon, adding in the talent of Dansby and the potential Jones has is exciting to think about for the upcoming season.

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TEMPE, Ariz. — He’s back. Again.

Linebacker Karlos Dansby signed a one-year contract with the Arizona Cardinals last week that was worth $2 million overall, including a $700,000 signing bonus.

Here’s a year-by-year breakdown of his contract:

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