It's pretty clear our defense sucks. Amani Oruwariye has looked absolutely terrible so far (PFF grade of 38.1). Jeff Okudah had a near average grade before rupturing his Achilles and getting shut down for the year. Ifeatu Melifonwu looked viable (mostly) until he got hurt and sounds like he'll miss multiple weeks. Will Harris sucks (48.5 PFF) but wasn't completely terrible in the last game... Tracy Walker has been average but not good enough to make up for the rest of our secondary, and AJ Parker has been legit good (75.5 PFF so far). Jamie Collins wouldn't be so bad if he hadn't clearly lost a step, but Alex Anzalone is THE WORST guy on our defense (29.7 PFF). He's shockingly bad. Our DL and EDGE players have been okay so far.
If we're legit tanking, we're tanking and we aren't going to make even temporary moves to improve our team, other than when injuries crop up. I think we're more likely going to do a "light tank" job, where we don't make any drastic moves in a desperate attempt to improve towards mediocrity... but instead make a few moves here and there so that we're not total dogshit and our younger players have some support among the veterans. It's hard to develop as a young player when most of the dudes around you aren't doing their jobs. These moves aren't corrective surgery, they're band-aids to help us limp through the remaining 15 games on the schedule.
Move #1 - Promote Derrick Barnes
Anzalone isn't helping anyone out right now. Jamie Collins is maybe playing average football, but he's a versatile defender. Aaron Glenn had mentioned in camp that he couldn't wait to try out different things with Collins, but so far I've only seen him lining up as an off-ball LB. My move would be to give Collins the green dot to call defensive plays, start Barnes at the other off-ball LB spot, and then get creative with where you line Collins up. Put him on the edge and squeeze Flowers inside, or put him in place of McNeill on a passing down... Anzalone's snaps should go down by at least 60%.
Move #2 - Sign Richard Sherman
Not to play corner, though. Sherman is 33, he's coming off an injury year, looks like he lost a step AND has had an off-season of personal problems. If he's truly ready to play, I think switching him to safety and rotating out Will Harris would be a good move. Charles Woodson successfully moved from corner to safety so as to extend his career, and Sherman is good enough and heady enough to pull it off. If Sherman isn't game, Kenny Vaccaro is a solid backup move. His experience with Glenn in this scheme will help bring some solidity to this secondary that needs it. Harris is leaving our corners out to dry.
Move #3 - Sign/Trade for a Vet Corner
Our corner depth is...ugly. I thought Okudah looked okay in the opener, outside of a couple of bad reps, but then he got injured. I thought Ifeatu was having an okay game he could build on in game 2, until he got injured. Oruwariye has been trash. AJ Parker looks good so far, but he's a slot guy and still a rookie. Our secondary was the youngest group in the NFL going into the season, which was not a good thing. We need a guy who's capable and not super young. And cheap, preferably. Here are a few options:
- Gareon Conley - coming off an injury year and not being signed right now could be an indicator that he's not healthy yet. Assuming he is healthy, Conley would be exactly the type of guy we should be looking to sign. Still a FA so he only costs money, and he was a solid corner prior to injury.
- Jourdan Lewis - the Cowboys have a bit of an embarrassment of riches in their secondary, but their DL is pretty weak. Lewis is a decent corner, but he's behind 3 other guys, and Dallas has 4 safeties who could start for us. The might take a Nick Williams for Lewis deal straight up. We might even get a pick back in that trade.
- Antonio Hamilton - he's CB #4 but playing fairly well with the snaps he's gotten. At 28 years old, he's unlikely to be part of the Card's future. Not sure where there needs are, but we could probably swing a late pick for him.
- Darqueze Dennard - would be a risk. He'll be 30 in a minute, currently injured maybe? I'm not even sure what his status is. Some things I read make it look like he was placed on IR by the Cardinals and is still linked to the team. Other articles make it seem like he was granted an injury release because his leg injury was going to cause him to "miss time." Dennard is a good corner when healthy, but that's been a problem with him, and we're not sure of the extent of his current injury. He should be pretty easy to acquire, whether he's on IR or was granted an injury release. The question is whether or not he could play.