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LISTEN Ron Jaworski ESPN NFL analyst


first_imgLISTEN: Ron Jaworski, ESPN NFL analyst Former Cardinals kicker Phil Dawson retires Top Stories Derrick Hall satisfied with D-backs’ buying and selling The storyline has nearly been flattened to a platitude: The Arizona Cardinals have a lot of replacing to do on defense to repeat their dominance of yesteryear. You know the names — Daryl Washington, Karlos Dansby, Darnell Dockett, Tyrann Mathieu, Yeremiah Bell and now maybe John Abraham. Those are some big shoes to fill for the proverbial “next man up.”But if the unit’s Week 1 performance on Monday Night Football serves as any kind of indication, defensive coordinator Todd Bowles and his revised cast of characters may just be able to pull off the replication. Comments   Share   The 5: Takeaways from the Coyotes’ introduction of Alex Meruelocenter_img – / 61 Facing the high-octane San Diego Chargers offense, which boasted the fifth-best offense in all of football a season ago with an average yards-per-game tally of nearly 400 yards, the Cardinals’ new defensive personnel stepped up big while the old linchpins looked the part.Bowles’ defense held the Chargers to a mild 52 yards of rushing, allowing just 290 yards total — more than 100 fewer than their 2013 yards-per-game average.Now, with Mathieu’s return on the horizon and a confidence-boosting performance in the rear-view mirror, the Cardinals are giving naysayers a reason to change their minds about the team’s 2014 defensive outlook.A guest of the Burns and Gambo show on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM Thursday, ESPN senior NFL analyst Ron Jaworski didn’t hesitate to add his name to the list of believers in Bowles’ defense.“You’re talking (about) some quality football players who were unavailable for the game or got hurt in the game,” he began. “And this is where I tip my hat to coaching. We all know around the National Football League, that’s just the way it is. We hear every week — ‘Next man up, next man up.’ Sometimes those are just words; the next man sometimes plays terrible.” On Monday, it was newcomers Larry Foote, Deone Bucannon, Antonio Cromartie and Tommy Kelly — along with second-year players Tony Jefferson and Kevin Minter — who were next up, and the group led the team in tackles. Foote was the only Arizona defender with more than one tackle for a loss. “This is a well-designed defense,” Jaworski went on. “Todd Bowles puts players in a position to make plays. He wants a mentally-tough as well as a physically-tough defense — those are the attributes that this Cardinals defense has shown.”Last season, the Cardinals boasted the best rushing defense in the nation and they were sixth in total defense and seventh in scoring defense.“So despite all the injuries, you saw the ‘next man up’ play well and be put in a position by Todd Bowles to make plays,” he said.“Those are extraordinary numbers,” Jaws went on to talk about the Cardinals’ Monday Night Football performance. “And I know they’re numbers, but when you look at the tape and you see how they played, they played good, solid defense and that is an outstanding offensive team in San Diego.” Your browser does not support the audio element. Grace expects Greinke trade to have emotional impactlast_img

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