The Cardinals are just past the quarter-pole point in the season and the most difficult stretch of the season is about to begin with Sunday’s game in San Francisco. But at this point, whatever concerns there might have been in the switch of defensive coordinators from Ray Horton to Todd Bowles seem to be meaningless.
Heading into the 49ers game, the Cardinals are ranked 15th in total defense in the NFL and are allowing about 19 points a game. Last season, the Cards finished 12th in total defense but allowed more than 22 points a game. The big difference is in how the Cards are doing it. Horton’s D was fifth in the league against the pass, but only 28th against the run. Bowles has flipped that equation, with the Cardinals third against the run this season and 19th against the pass. You can argue a lot of ways with the statistics, including the fact the Cards were often playing from behind last season. But there is little question Bowles — quiet and subdued, in direct contrast to the brash Horton — has convinced his players he has the right plan.
“He’s very aggressive, a good dude, very humble, a players coach, understands the game, played the game for a long time,” defensive tackle Darnell Dockett said of Bowles. “He doesn’t have a ego, and he tries to do (plans) to make our team do the best.”
“(The defense) is not just about one or two guys making plays,” Dockett added. “That’s good when other teams are preparing for you. We have a defense full of talent. Biggest thing, everyone is making their play, and that’s what he tells us every week.”
That was one of the things that struck me when Bowles arrived. He knew, given what the defense did and the attention around Horton’s coaching candidacy with the Cardinals, that comparisons were inevitable. Bowles never got defensive about such questions, never seemed to let it faze him. He was going to do what he did, let the defense play, and let the performance speak for itself. So far, that’s worked out pretty well.
“I don’t know who would question (Bowles’ hiring),” head coach Bruce Arians said this week. “He was an interim head coach (in Miami) and went 3-1 down there and had a good defense. I know Bill Parcells doesn’t question that, and I certainly didn’t question it, so if you’re talking about replacing Ray Horton, that was never a doubt in my mind.”
Tags: Bruce Arians, Darnell Dockett, Todd Bowles
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