If stopping the best team in the league on its home turf with a defensive scheme that all but rendered Seattle’s Russell Wilson ineffective isn’t the best the Arizona Cardinals can do, then watch out. Because, according to them, the best is yet to come, even if they may have just one more chance this season to prove it. Both coach Bruce Arians and veteran linebacker Karlos Dansby said the ceiling for Arizona’s defense isn’t close to being reached. “It’s up there,” Dansby said. “It’s up there. We still got a lot of growing to do. We still left a lot of plays out on the field. We gave them a little too much than we wanted to give them, but they’re a great offense. You can only shut them down for so long.” Or for the whole game, whichever comes first. Arizona enters its final regular-season game with the best run defense in the league and the third-best in terms of passing yards per play, which makes for the sixth-best unit overall. But Arians said there are still some nuances of the defense that need to be learned. Yet that hasn’t stopped Arizona. Winning seven of their last eight, Arizona is among the hottest teams in the league – if not the hottest. And beating the Seahawks in Seattle by holding them under 200 yards has put the rest of the league on notice. “I don’t think too many teams want to see us in the playoffs, especially the way our defense is playing right now,” Arians said. “To have a road win like that, it’s a playoff atmosphere because they were playing for everything, I would feel very confident going anywhere in the National Football League playing anybody.” Arians may have felt this way before about other defenses he’s been around – including the Steelers from 2004 to 2011 – but none can compare to this year’s unit, he said, because of the number of takeaways. Arizona intercepted Wilson once and recovered a fumble, giving the Cards 30 takeaways this season, more than all but three teams in the league.
Cards' defense still has room to get better
ESPN | Dec 26