The Arizona Cardinals defense is expected to be very good in 2012, and they aspire to be a top-10 unit. One of the players that could make that happen is linebacker Daryl Washington, who is on the cusp of becoming a star. He was on Arizona Sports 620 and talked about his expectations for the defense and what his role will be on the field.
He expressed his goals to Doug and Wolf. It involves both team and individual accomplishments.
"The number one goal is to make it to the Pro Bowl," he said. "Obviously, win a whole bunch of games. I kind of want to smell the playoffs and go real far in the playoffs, but as far as being a top-10 defense, I want to be in that category as far as a whole defense."
A top-10 defense? The team was 18th overall at the end of last season, but they have something to hang their hat on. They had the league's best third down defense. And that is a good start.
If that is to happen, Washington is going to have to be even better than he was a season ago -- and he was pretty dang good. He had 107 tackles, five sacks, two interceptions and knocked down seven passes.
He does not want to come off the field this year. He is going to be used in a variety of ways, and his size and speed allow him to do many things.
"I'll be everywhere on the field," Washington explained. "Just don't take me off the field, that's my motto. You'll see me outside, inside, blitzing up the middle, maybe playing a little safety -- everywhere."
A little safety? I'm sure that would throw off a defense seeing that. In fact, I can picture a scenario when he and Adrian Wilson essentially trade spots for a down or two. Wilson plays very well around the line of scrimmage and Washington could play in coverage.
Defensive coordinator Ray Horton's defense is based on creating confusion, so it, at least on the surface, makes sense. Of course, at the same time, he could be just throwing it out there for teams to think about at least.
Washington isn't even satisfied with playing every defensive snap. He is ready to play on special teams, too.
"Special teams is a big part of winning games, so if they need me on special teams, kick off, punt, whatever, I am there," Washington said.
As fans, we can expect to see more of the same things that the defensive unit did a season ago.
"We are sticking with the same scheme," Washington stated. "Obviously we have some new additions on our team, Willie Gay and some other guys, so we are sticking with the same scheme and the same players and taking the same attitude going into the season and just try to come in and have a good training camp."
Washington is a player that fans are already saying that the team should get signed long-term. He is much like Karlos Dansby, who departed in free agency after being franchise twice. Fans do not want to see him leave, especially considering his age and the fact that he is just barely discovering how good he can be.
Not a lot of fans outside of Arizona are familiar with this No. 58. It very well may be that after this season, he could be included in the same conversation as Patrick Willis, Ray Lewis and Brian Urlacher. He could be that good.
Playing inside, outside and even as a safety? That a guy you want on your team. The best part? He is on ours. Hopefully he stays for many more years.
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