“Players make it come to life”

Posted by Darren Urban on February 10, 2011 – 1:59 pm

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: , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Blog | 31 Comments »

31 Responses to ““Players make it come to life””

  1. By Brian on Feb 10, 2011 | Reply

    Man i really hope this works out..Ray seems like he is going to whip this team right into shape!..A little off topic but Darren is there any update on if whiz is going to still be calling offense plays? I know there is a possibility of Mike Miller calling plays but then I heard he might be a college head coach?…thanks Brian

  2. By Darren Urban on Feb 10, 2011 | Reply

    Brian —

    RE: Mike Miller vs. Chris Miller

    OK everyone, let’s clarify:
    — QB coach Chris Miller was the one up for a college job (which he is not taking).

    — Pass game coordinator Mike Miller was the one calling a lot of plays last season and has a good chance of doing even more this season.

  3. By harlanlee1 on Feb 10, 2011 | Reply

    Okay. Now that the Cards have their DC, one of the many necessary components is in place. Yes, the Cards have come a step closer to emulating Pittsburgh. If we can believe the majority of the Terrible Towels (and not sure their is any real reason to believe them), the Steelers defense has carried the team to their last three Super Bowls. They seemed to do okay without Big Ben for the first four games of 2010. And the Steeler offense was primarily responsible for the Packers’ win in the Super Bowl, losing the turnover game to the Pack. So maybe the Cards’ defense might now be considered a Lite version of the Steel Curtain. Unfortunately, the Cards offense still looks a lot like a standard version of the Buffalo, Cleveland, Carolina, etc. teams. Unless Whiz can become at least a Lite version of Mike McCarthy, with a reasonable amount of success in calling all the offensive plays, the Cards remain in desperate need of a real Offensive Coordinator. And the beat goes on.

  4. By jocards on Feb 10, 2011 | Reply

    There is not going to be a new offensive coordinator this season and I don’t understand why folks can’t seem to grasp that. Argue all you’d like that there should be, it isn’t going to happen period. Now I said in an earlier post, I like the way Ray Horton sounds. He says the right things and I like the idea that he is a Dick LeBeau disciple and believes in bringing the blitz & pressuring the QB. However it is the players that have to get it done. Our defensive guys did not get it done last season. I’m not a big Bill Davis fan but I assure you his gameplan did not include guys missing tackles, constantly being out of position and playing like they weren’t interested at times. Largely the same group of guys is going to have to execute a whole lot better than they did last season for Ray Horton to be a success in his new job.

  5. By brad ON eill on Feb 10, 2011 | Reply

    our defense played tired this year. from the very first game they were in when they should have been out. some of it was the offense, some of it was the special teams, some of it was the breakdowns on third down. for whatever reason they couldnt get off the field long enough to catch their breath and counterattack.

    I dont know this coach from adam, but he seems to have a good energy and I like the direction he is heading. I can’t see how tightening up on fundamentals will hurt, adrian wilson may not need a raw raw kind of guy, but you can bet if a guy shows him a weakness in his game he is man enough to fix it.

  6. By KyCardsfan on Feb 10, 2011 | Reply

    Look at it this way…last season we started 3 different QB’s…all three times the D stepped up. At St. Louis, vs NO, and then vs Denver…maybe they’ll step up the whole season for their new DC. I’m just trying to stay positive lol

  7. By D on Feb 10, 2011 | Reply

    If he can get our stars on defense to play up to pro bowl level and if they use the first pick on a stud pass rushing OLB and maybe draft another LB in round 4 or 5, then yes the defense should jump up to middle of the league…

  8. By Scott H on Feb 10, 2011 | Reply

    RE – Players making it come to life

    Amen to that. Truer words were never spoken. As much regard as I have for Lebeau as a coordinator, you can’t ignore the talent the Steelers have there. Give Lebeau the cardinals defense last year, and I guarantee he doesn’t look so legendary. I’m hoping for good things from Horton, but he needs more talent than what he’s got right now for this D to be significantly improved.

  9. By cardsalltheway on Feb 10, 2011 | Reply

    The Interview
    Ken W.: Uh, you are the same guy I played against in college and coached with in Pittsburgh aren’t you?
    Horton: Yes.
    Ken W.: You trust that we will pay you right?
    Horton: Yes.
    Ken W.: And that even if there is a lockout the money will be in the bank?
    Horton: Oh yeah(chuckling).
    Ken W.: Your hired(Big smile)!

  10. By Big Red on Feb 10, 2011 | Reply

    Man this idots never give up. We got the DC, know there going after the OC. Enjoy the moment, pressure, pressure, pressure….. it takes time for everything.

  11. By Travp111 on Feb 10, 2011 | Reply

    Please draft Von Miller!!!

  12. By georgiebird on Feb 10, 2011 | Reply

    Just an historical note. About the time Ray Horton was born and when Dick LeBeau was still a player, the St. Louis Cardinals brought the blitz to the NFL-the Cardinals invented the Blitz and that’s why Larry Wilson is in the HOF.
    The blitz is a hit or miss defense that usually tries to cover for sub-par defense personnel.
    So in bringing the blitz back to the Cardinals, it’s like bringing the Lombardi Cup back to Green Bay.
    The Cardinals all-out blitzing in the 1960s met with only modest success. Those Cardinals were always a step slow in getting to the QB. For these Cardinals, I hope that blitzing comes from a position of strength (real good talent) rather than a position of weakness.

  13. By AndyStandsUp on Feb 10, 2011 | Reply

    From what I understand about a LeBeau-inspired defense is that it takes two essential parts – athleticism and smarts, and I’m worried for the Cards on both points.
    In the 3-4 the DL has to be run stoppers, with an occasional blitz. Dockett, Williams and Campbell are aight there. Branch and Watson can be if pushed.
    The Strong safety has to be the best individual player on defense, able to rush, cover and tackle. Wilson is darn close.
    Free Safety has to the center fielder able to cover when the FS blitzes. Rhodes proved that last year.
    The CBs have to be strict cover guys, since more than likely they’ll be man. Toler can tackle, DRC not so much.
    And the 800 pound gorilla- LBs have to do it all and this is where the Cards lack most. A complete overhaul is probably expected, but whom? Miller or Smith in the draft? Wimbley or Greenway in FA? Stick with Porter, Hayes, Lenon and Haggans? Or a combination of all?

  14. By Sackman on Feb 10, 2011 | Reply


    What percentage of time was the Defense on the field last year, compared to the Offense? My guess is 75% of the time. If I was on the field playing football for most of the game, I too would be tired and perhaps giving up . I do not put the whole blame on the Defense. I put most of the blame on the Quaterback, Offensive Line, and Play Calling all in that order. If we fix those problems first, than everything else will fall in place. Seriously do you know the percentage?

  15. By Darren Urban on Feb 11, 2011 | Reply

    Sackman —

    RE: Percentage

    The Cardinals had 881 combined passes and runs last season. Opponents had 1,059. (Or 54.6 percent of the time).

  16. By Eazy E on Feb 10, 2011 | Reply


  17. By Cactus Jeff on Feb 10, 2011 | Reply

    You noticed the samething during the Dallas game. Campbell and Dockett played better in the 4-3 scheme. During the superbowl, the packers played basically 3 nosetackles on first down. Campbell and Dockett appear too small to stop the run on first down. Not to mention Darryl Washington is a small MLB with an undersized frontline.
    I almost wished we would take the best player available in the draft and then hire a DC that fits our personnel.

  18. By Michael on Feb 10, 2011 | Reply

    VON MILLER!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  19. By bluepitt on Feb 10, 2011 | Reply

    Im out of words…Ill bet you are happy bout that…lol Have a good offseason.

  20. By StevenCali on Feb 10, 2011 | Reply

    GREAT ARTICLE URBANite. Can we PLEASE!!!!! draft VON MILLER @5overall AND take our 2nd round pick and trade up late into the first round to select the best available OFFENSIVE LINEMAN. ALSO, trade for Denver’s Kyle Orton…………..WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAT? with the fifth pick in the draft ARIZONA shocks every WAR ROOM and SELECTS CAM NEWTON from Auburn!!!!!!!!

  21. By Darrel on Feb 11, 2011 | Reply

    look out. For kelvin sheppard MLB out of LSU 6″3 242 with a body that could easliy add lil weight and that’s scary he’s a lot like karlos dansby i Swear this. Kid Will get 100 tak a year in nfl. He probably go in the2nd. But I hope. Not cuz he is a beast just no one. Talks about but you will all see what I’m talkin about

  22. By Sackman on Feb 11, 2011 | Reply


    Correction! How about minutes played between Offense and Defense from the Arizona Cardinals only.

  23. By Darren Urban on Feb 11, 2011 | Reply

    Sackman —

    RE: Minutes

    For the season, the Cardinals averaged 26 minutes, 14 seconds in time of possession and opponents were at 33:46.

  24. By Scott H on Feb 11, 2011 | Reply

    Anyone focusing on free agents might as well give it up for right now because right now, free agency doesn’t even exist. Until the CBA thing is resolved, nobody is coming or going from anywhere. Same with trades. Right now, the draft is the ONLY opportunity the Cardinals or anyone else is going to have to address their needs. There’s not a lot of optimism out there right now about this thing getting resolved any time soon. And it could be really ugly and chaotic if it draws out into late summer ( don’t think it can’t happen ) and teams are scrambling to throw a team together with about 10 days before the season starts. Until this CBA thing is done…we ain’t in Kansas anymore, Toto.

  25. By Frustrated on Feb 12, 2011 | Reply

    You have mentioned several times that players have more respect for coaches that were players because they have walked the walk as well as talked the talk. Don’t you think that this will give Ray Horton a definite jump start to his credibility? I sure hope that it does. I like the ideas that he has verbalized about what he sees for the future.

    That being said. What credibility does Mike Miller bring to the team. My research shows that he did not play any pro footfall or any college football. So far he has not shown much success in his role. Why will the team fall in behind him other than Whiz dictates it?

  26. By Darren Urban on Feb 13, 2011 | Reply

    Frustrated —

    RE: Credibility

    I don’t think there is any one way to do things. As has been pointed out before, several coaches didn’t play. Todd Haley didn’t play college either.

  27. By mikeso602 on Feb 13, 2011 | Reply

    With ray horton as our DC i cant help but to think that he will most defitnley make players such as daryl washington, o’brien shofield and dan williams better players with XP last year . all we need is another OLB to make a complete steelers like defense! (which i think witha new DC should draft a OLB in the 1st round) but i really think daryl washington is gonna be a mean beast next year !

  28. By TucsonTim on Feb 13, 2011 | Reply

    “What you would call man to man”, maybe 12 or 13 snaps all season. All fricken season I kept asking how did McFadden suck so bad last year and get a shout out by LeBeau and end up starting in the SB. My only concern, if GB hadn’t dropped a half dozen passes that SB would have been a blow out. Too bad D Henderson didn’t work out. A QB and a DC and we’re back in the playoffs baby….half way there. OPEN UP THE PURSE STRINGS M BIDWILL, use that UNIV OF PHX $ like you said you would.

  1. 3 Trackback(s)

  2. Feb 11, 2011: Word From the Birds Blog“Players make it come to life” « | FantasyHype: Fantasy Football
  3. Feb 22, 2011: Word From the Birds BlogDid Coach play? «
  4. Apr 14, 2011: Word From the Birds BlogIn the same boat «

Post a Comment

%d bloggers like this: