The Arizona Cardinals lost Chandler Jones to defense but believe they still have playmakers who need to catch up with the passer.
Marcus Golden, who led the Cards with 11 sacks in 2021, is now the #1 true pass rusher. But the 31-year-old has always considered himself the best dog.
“Even when Chandler was here, I was my #1 guy,” Golden said. through the team’s official website. “That’s why I can perform at a high level no matter who I play with.
“I respect him and learned a lot from Chandler. I can seriously say that he helped me become the player I am today. But whether I’m playing with Chandler or anyone else, I feel like I’m No. 1 (pass rusher). You have to have that attitude.”
Jones earned 71.5 sacks in six seasons with Arizona from 2016 to 2021, the third most in the NFL during that period.
In his seven-year career, Golden has gone through three double-digit layoff seasons, and after returning to Arizona midway through the 2020 season, he formed a powerful pair with Jones. Now that the latter is gone, Golden will have to deal with the infractions by sending him more help.
“The first day I felt weird because Chandler wasn’t there,” Golden said. “It was crazy. But at the same time, I’m glad that we have the guys that we have. Like everyone says, you can’t replace Chandler. But you can go out and hunt. I’m going to do my part and hunt, and I know the guys we have here will be ready to hunt too.”
The Cardinals are counting on Devon Kennard, Dennis Gardek and rookies Cameron Thomas (round three), Maijay Sanders (round three) and Jesse Luketa (round seven) to help fill the hole left by Jones. The youth will play a vital role if wingman JJ Watt D is going to bounce back from last season’s setbacks.
In 2021, Arizona went from 18.4 points per game (fourth-lowest) in weeks 1–11 to 27.3 points per game in weeks 12–18, finishing 28th in the league.