Bowles will stick to 3-4

Posted by Darren Urban on February 7, 2013 – 1:27 pm

New defensive coordinator Todd Bowles said he doesn’t expect a dramatic change with the defense and that he will stay with the 3-4 base alignment as he takes over for Ray Horton, which makes a lot of sense on a couple of levels — not the least of which being personnel. And while he didn’t address Darnell Dockett specifically, I’d think the Cards may move Dockett around a little more to play to Dockett’s strengths.

Bowles didn’t come out with any predictions, a la Horton in 2011. As for his stint as interim Eagles defensive coordinator this past season — one that did not go well as Philadelphia struggled as a team — Bowles wasn’t fazed. “I don’t think one year makes you a bad coach or a good coach.”

Head coach Bruce Arians also made it plain Bowles was always going to be his guy as defensive coordinator if he ever was a head coach, so Horton being in Arizona was likely irrelevant.

Bowles hasn’t had time yet to watch much video, so his evaluation of his players is scarce at this point (although Arians did say that cornerback Patrick Peterson will most definitely remain the punt returner, since he is a threat to score every time he touches the ball.) Bowles isn’t going to provide the sound bites his predecessor did, but Arians is clearly confident in Bowles to continue the trend as a solid defense. Rankings don’t matter to Arians — He called yardage rankings “bogus” — but wins and losses do, so Bowles is charged with coming up with a defense that helps make victories happen. Sounds like the stat goals the defense had will be a thing of the past.

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19 Responses to “Bowles will stick to 3-4”

  1. By D on Feb 7, 2013 | Reply

    Staying with a 3-4, still need to pick up another DE in the draft for rotation depth, unless they plan on keeping and developing a Talley or E. Thompson at DE….I don’t see Holliday and Eason coming back so they need more depth besides Carter on the Dline

  2. By iammattyoung on Feb 7, 2013 | Reply

    Glad to hear it! Shifting to a 4-3 look would have been a HUGE project, and would have really taken away from the great things that DWash and Calais do. Like it or not, Dockett, those are the difference-makers on this defense. We must get a pass-rusher at OLB, though.

  3. By joe holst on Feb 7, 2013 | Reply

    They better draft quick players being they let russell wilson and colin kaepernack slip thru their fingers durting the draft, now the defense gets to deal with these guys twice a year for the next 10 years.

  4. By Jordan on Feb 7, 2013 | Reply

    The only worry I have with the 3-4 is that I’m not sure if we have the guys to CONSISTENTLY stop the run in this formation. I’m hoping that’s not the case and that it was just Horton’s system, but if it wasn’t then that’s a problem. It’s important to remember the importance of a run defense in this division with Lynch/Wilson and Gore/Kaepernick. Not to mention that both of those duos are behind extremely aggressive run blocking o lines. Also, seeing as having a mobile quarterback is becoming so effective now (unless of course you’ve got Brady, Manning, Brees or…. Flacco!), I think the front office should take a serious look at Matt Scott. His name has been coming up a lot these days and just from watching some games during the season along with some film I’ve seen on the internet, I think he has everything you look for in a quarterback. Arm strength, accuracy, pocket presence and speed. Obviously he would be somewhat of a project, but he reminds me a lot of Kaepernick. Obviously I’m not a professional scout, but I’d be very interested to hear what an NFL scout thinks of him. Just something to think about.

  5. By georgiebird on Feb 7, 2013 | Reply

    Staying with the 3-4 is a big mistake. Historically, the Cardinals are the worst team in the NFL in producing big time LBs. In the 53 years I’ve followed the team, I can’t name even one Cardinals’ linebacker who was a dominant player. The only LB who came close was Ken Harvey who did all of his All-Pro work after going to the Redskins.
    The 3-4 defense puts a premium on big time linebacker play and the Cardinals haven’t produced this type player in over half a century-now we need four of these LBs.
    Rooted in the philosophies of Plato, Aristotle and Socrates is an expression that goes “Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it”.
    Are you listening Mr. Arians??????

  6. By Darren Urban on Feb 7, 2013 | Reply

    Georgie —

    RE: Linebackers

    I’m not disputing your opinion. But what does “Historically, the Cardinals are the worst team in the NFL in producing big time LBs” even mean in context? No one from the 1970s, 80s, 90s who put together those teams are here now. Completely immaterial. There is a new staff, a new GM. You can make the argument Keim hasn’t found an LB yet, but then again, you seem to be one of the few bagging on Daryl Washington. He’s not just a fan favorite, but I am guessing many teams wish they had him on their team.

    As for the past, it’s like talking about the all-time series between teams. Many times, even last year’s matchup means little on the current season, much less the result between teams 10, 15, 20 years ago.

  7. By D on Feb 7, 2013 | Reply

    Georgiebird…how can you forget the one big year from Seth Joyner, the multiple good years from Eric Hill, the very good J. Miller…K. Dansby…and DWash….this team has normally always had at least one good Lb on the roster…

  8. By John The Draft Guy on Feb 7, 2013 | Reply

    Georgie and Darren,

    I’m a little lost. You should go to a 4-3 defense because then you only have to play 3 bad linebackers instead of 4. Is that the argument here?

    Historically, the cards have drafted very badly at QB. So lets run a wildcat offense and eliminate the QB too.

    Truth be told, we haven’t drafted well at any position historically. The best way to fix that is to start drafting better. But I don’t think you don’t play a certain defense because historically you have drafted good LBs.

  9. By David L on Feb 7, 2013 | Reply

    Awesome! Glad they are staying 3-4. I think we have some major talent aside from D-Wash here and I’m sure we will be able to exploit them this season by bringing in another young guy or two (seeing how it may be time for Lenon to depart). I like our chances with Acho, Groves, Walker, and Washington out there. It’s exciting to watch them fly around the field. And our reserves in Zack Nash and Schofield aren’t too bad either. Just need another one or two speedy/strong dudes to compliment our already good LB core.

  10. By georgiebird on Feb 7, 2013 | Reply

    You make my point- “this team has normally always had at least one good LB on the roster”. Good LBs are not going to get it done using a 3-4.

    @John the Draft guy- the difference between a 3-4 and a 4-3 is one linebacker but more importantly the emphasis in a 4-3 is on the front four while in a 3-4 the emphasis is on the LBs.

    @ Darren- I’ve seen DWash get pushed around (sometimes by RBs) to NOT call him a dominant LB. He has the speed but not the strength and size for a 3-4.

    And more than anything- the Cards can’t play a 3-4 without an outstanding NT.
    So I stand by the fact that until the Cardinals start developing dominant type LBs and find a guy who can be an outstanding NT- the 3-4 will be as soft as it was in 2012. Horton was able to sell out and stop the run or the pass but he could never stop the run and pass in the same game.
    I like Arians but the 3-4 is a mistake.

  11. By georgiebird on Feb 7, 2013 | Reply

    Eric Hill had 9 sacks in 160 games and Seth Joiner was on the way out when he played here. Jamir Miller had the makings of a very good LB but never developed with the Cards; more so with the Browns. Dansby was good (not dominant) and the Cardinals were correct in getting rid of him rather than make him the highest paid LB in the NFL.

  12. By georgiebird on Feb 7, 2013 | Reply

    Agree with Arians’ on calling yardage stats as “bogus”. Last year, except for one game-our opponents did not have the need or the urgency to keep pounding against our defense for a whole game. When the opponents got ahead by 2 scores the games were over and it was time to sit on the ball.
    If Arians improves our offense, our defense will be under much more of an onslaught than it was last year.
    Statistics are for losers.

  13. By azCfan on Feb 7, 2013 | Reply

    @ iammattyoung

    need a pas russher at OLB?? since when did 11 sacks in 19 games become bad? (sam acho)
    and calais is a DE not a line backer…it deffinetly seems like you are saying hes a line backer… sticking to a 3-4 is the best thing we can do…and making sure we keep Holliday and tally and get some young legs that can be rotated..and most deffinetly bring back the ADUB.

  14. By John The Draft Guy on Feb 8, 2013 | Reply


    I understand the difference between 3-4 and 4-3. I still dont see how you think we will be ok in a 4-3 if our LBs are bad.

    You see, in a 3-4, our NT is over the center and our ends are 5’s. The true job of these lineman are to cause the offense to hold the double team and not do combo blocks. By preventing the guards from combo blocks and sliding to the ILB, the LBs are free to fill holes and make plays. The ILBs play out over the guards Our SOLB is still over the TE and the WOLB is outside the tackle in a 7 or 9.

    The 4-3 defense will still put our SOLB over the TE, our SDE will be in a 5 and our other DE will be in a 7 (like the 3-4 OLB). The big difference is the DTs now are shaded in a 3 and 1 technique. Shading is a way to help shoot the gaps. Now The MLB needs to be big enough to handle guards and FBs while fast enough to get deep down middle on coverage and go sideline to sideline. (think Urlacker). Our WOLB is now off the line and shades the tackle.

    Either way, you cant hide your LBs. In fact, a 4-3 exposes your MLB more. With the cards current personnel, a 3-4 makes so much more sense.

  15. By monzz on Feb 8, 2013 | Reply

    Go Cards

    I am looking forward to the 2013 football season. I have learned more about the team plans in the last two weeks than I did over the last five years with Whiz N Fake at the helm. The coaching is gonna win some games this year we lost in the past! I can’t see this team finishing any worse then 10-6 and with a few breaks and a few prayers 12-4. I see the cards shocking the NFL in 2013.

  16. By bluepitt on Feb 8, 2013 | Reply

    We have an outstanding NT! Have you ever watched Williams? He is a force and only in his 3rd year!!!! He is just a baby. He had 44 total tackels with 33 of them solo. Daryl Wash, has 108 solo and 134 tot, but he is on the field for most every D snap , Williams plays NT, and is sharing time. Those numbers are specktacular for a NT!

  17. By Eazy E on Feb 14, 2013 | Reply

    I must admit I do like what I heard from him, but you gotta produce though. 1st check was him giving Ray his credit and due and then saying he ain’t changing and wants o build off that.

  18. By William Barry on Feb 17, 2013 | Reply

    We will be fine with the 3-4…sometimes consistency and keeping the norm is the best. We could use some more speed at LB in the draft.

    I have all the confidence in BA.

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