During Super Bowl week, Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau was talking about why his defensive schemes were so successful. There were a few reasons, but LeBeau came back a couple of times to one in particular: “The players make it come to life.”
So as Ray Horton takes over as defensive coordinator, that’s the question: What players does he have in place to have his defense – which he clearly will pattern after LeBeau’s – work? He wasn’t real specific talking about the players yesterday (and that’s only fair, he had only begun to analyze what he had). He mentioned that technique and fundamentals got sloppy at the end of the season. That can happen, but that obviously has to change.
(For now, we won’t talk about the possible short time window of the offseason due to labor problems; if there is a work stoppage, Horton won’t be able to talk to the players until it’s over. “That’s my biggest challenge, getting information to the players in a short, concise amount of time.” But that’s a topic to be attacked on another day.)
Horton also said the system was going to be “very demanding” and “very precise.”
Here’s the key, and we have talked about this before: The good players have to play good (and yes, I just butchered the English language. Making a point here). If Horton can get Adrian Wilson and Calais Campbell and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Darnell Dockett to play at a consistently high level – which I still believe all are capable of doing – then the defense is already better without any moves. If Daryl Washington, Dan Williams and O’Brien Schofield make a jump because they got playing time, you have the same thing (although you still need more linebackers).
I’ve mentioned Horton may have an advantage as a former player communicating with these guys, and he agreed that helps. “It gives you some credibility that you have sat in the same chairs they’re in,” Horton said. “It helps until they say, ‘Why’d you call that?!?’ ”
In other words, there’s a lot more that goes into the equation than similar backgrounds. We know that. Again, the cliché is that “It’s more about the jimmys and joes than the x’s and o’s.” The players, as LeBeau said, make the defense come to life. So do the Cards have the players?
“That remains to be seen, every situation is different,” LeBeau said. “But whenever you can add a person to your organization that has the depth of experience at both levels – playing and coaching – that (Ray) has, and he has been a major contributor to our success in Pittsburgh … there is no reason why, those ideas he shared with us can’t be equally effective out there.”
Tags: Adrian Wilson, Calais Campbell, Dan Williams, Darnell Dockett, Daryl Washington, Dick LeBeau, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, O'Brien Schofield, Ray Horton
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