Photo credit: Norm Hall / Getty Images Sport
Author: Jon Kuzma
The Arizona Cardinals might have struggled in 2016 with a 7-8-1 record but there definitely was a bright spot in outside linebackers Chandler Jones and Markus Golden. Jones and Golden both finished in the top 10 when it came to total sacks a year ago and they are both so key in Arizona’s 3-4 defense. In that particular scheme outside linebackers are expected to rush the quarterback and both guys do that exceptionally well. With Calais Campbell leaving the Cardinals to head to the Jacksonville Jaguars this off-season, Jones and Golden will have even more pressure to produce this upcoming season. Picking up the slack that Campbell left behind won’t be easy but if Jones and Golden can wreak havoc in the offensive backfield the Cardinals secondary should be able to pick off a few ill-advised passes throughout the year. Those turnovers can be the difference between winning and losing games, also look for Jones and Golden to try to force more fumbles too. Arizona’s defense has to create turnovers and find a way to put up points on the defensive side of the ball. Those opportunities will put this team in a much better situation to succeed and the pair combined for 8 forced fumbles last year. Increasing that total isn’t impossible especially since Jones and Golden gain experience with each rep they take but the bottom line is these guys have to pour on the sacks. Markus Golden had 12.5 sacks in 2016 finishing 3rd for the entire league. Chandler Jones finished the year with 11 sacks and ranked 8th among all pass rushers. Sacks are how 3-4 outside linebackers are measured success wise however both players can’t be limited to those stats in 2017. Jones and Golden have to record tackles for losses, intercept passes, and deliver momentum changing big hits. If these two players can rally the other guys in the locker room behind them, that will be the best chance the Cardinals have a getting back to winning football.
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