Enthusiasm for the defense

Posted by Darren Urban on June 6, 2013 – 10:02 am

Levi Brown was talking about getting back on the field and what he might be able to learn about himself in shorts in the heat of summer. No pads helps, he said, because he can ease his injured arm back into work. But there are other challenges.

“Our defense is giving us tons of blitzes right now,” Brown said, shaking his head. “Things I don’t think I’ve seen.”

There has been so much talk about the Ray-Horton-To-Todd-Bowles transition and what that could mean for the defense. While the arrival of Bruce Arians — and new quarterback Carson Palmer — has shifted focus to what the offense will be able to do, the defense remains a unit burgeoning with potential and proven players. In a division where the 49ers, Seahawks and Rams all have created believers on that side of the ball, the Cardinals have done the same, like with ESPN analyst/former scout Matt Williamson:

(Williams is bullish on a lot of things the Cards have done, actually. This is an ESPN Insider link, but in a nutshell, Williamson gave them an A. “I love what Arizona has done this offseason.”)

Even with the Daryl Washington suspension and whatever else might be hanging over the linebackers head, you have enthusiasm over what could be from the defensive ends, a linebacker corps that (with Washington) will be stronger overall with the additions of Karlos Dansby, Jasper Brinkley and Kevin Minter, and a cornerbacks group that is better than last season and that’s even before any anticipated improvement of Patrick Peterson. Finding out what defensive end-turned-linebacker Matt Shaughnessy and Lorenzo Alexander can produce will be crucial, but they should help incumbents Sam Acho and O’Brien Schofield at outside linebacker. Are there some unknowns at safety? Sure, but if Tyrann Mathieu can make some plays back there behind vets Rashad Johnson and Yeremiah Bell, I think the Cards can survive — especially in an NFL world where safety play has become more about coverage than big hitting.

The Cardinals need to make strides on offense. That’s obvious. But their base in 2013 will need to come from the defensive production.


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28 Responses to “Enthusiasm for the defense”

  1. By DontTakeLosses on Jun 6, 2013 | Reply

    Darren: Any take on TE Kory Sperry’s chances yet? Looks athletic in that pic posted on main page…fwiw.

  2. By Darren Urban on Jun 6, 2013 | Reply

    DTL —

    RE: Sperry

    I don’t know if they are scouting off my still pix, but we’ll see. Still a chance I’d guess.

  3. By Victor Sanchez on Jun 6, 2013 | Reply

    Way to go Dockett! How much has this guy improved as a leader?

  4. By joe holst on Jun 6, 2013 | Reply

    get john abrahams-when its third down this guy can come on the field nd close the deal wth a sack.

  5. By aaron on Jun 6, 2013 | Reply

    Horton is so overrated. I know most fans will murder me for saying it, but he’s an average coordinator. The defense was the best it has been in years, but look at the investment made into it over the past three years. #5 pick on PP, 2nd round pick on DWash, 1st round on Williams, and a couple of pro bowlers already in place. It’s easy to throw out stats, and point out the fact that the offense didn’t help the D much, and I understand the success with the struggles. I have a hard time with the fact that his defense turned Dockett into a role player and took Wilson away from his strengths. Horton didn’t take advantage of two of the most effective and athletic players he had and was bailed out by freaks like Washington and Peterson. Horton is a good coach and a good coordinator, and I’m sure he’s going to have a lot of success in this league, but holy hell has he been put on a ridiculous pedestal.

  6. By Mike Hadzinski C.M. PUNK on Jun 6, 2013 | Reply

    um thats nice and all but how about the real problem THE O-LINE

  7. By clssylssy on Jun 6, 2013 | Reply

    @Aaron…apparently you weren’t around when the Cardinals started the season last year 4-0 with no offense. It was Horton’s defense that was what sports analysts were finally giving the Cards their props for and it was not just PP or Washington who were coming together making some unbelieveable plays but the defensive unit as a whole. Horton is regarded as one of the finest defensive coordinators in the league. Adub slowed but was still making plays, and Kerry Rhodes could be counted on consistentlyas a major playmaker; we had some of the best safeties in the league. DD perhaps didn’t get the limelight he has liked so much in the past but, to his credit, continued being a significant contributor..I believe it’s referred to as maturity. Players do age and slow down, their roles change, but to say Horton turned Dockett into a mere “role player” is the coaches job; players are signed to play a certain role on the team! This year’s defense willl be different. We have some good talent and hopefully the substitutions will prove adequate. As you may recall our defense stomped a mud hole in the Eagles defense last year, so we’ll hope that our remaining defensive players can help the others along. It’s a new year; we’ll just have to see how things play out from here and hope for the best!

  8. By Eazy E on Jun 6, 2013 | Reply

    We’ll see.. Everybody’s gonna win a super bowl in June this time of year. Ray Horton and Todd Bowles is no comparison imo. He has a chance to prove himself, but enough of this and that in June for crying out loud.

  9. By Annette Richters on Jun 6, 2013 | Reply

    clssylassy, Easy just wants to cry about nothing. Your post was right on target. Thanks, I enjoy reading your posts.

  10. By Annette Richters on Jun 6, 2013 | Reply


    What is your opinion of our coaching staff. Mine is that with two head coaches of the caliber of Bill Belecheck and Tom Landry wrapped up into two great offensive minds with years of experience and savvy. Playoffs!
    I think a lot of people are just afraid to jump on the bandwagon because it is the “Cardinals” instead of some other bird team I could mention. I would like to see a study on how many trips to the playoffs that the “bird teams” have made. 🙂 I will make a prediction that the Red Birds will be in the playoff mix IN 2013. ANYBODY WANNA BET! I’M READY FREDDY.

    GO BIG RED RAGE!!!!!!!!!

  11. By Darren Urban on Jun 6, 2013 | Reply

    Annette —

    RE: coaching staff

    Coaches are judged by the results. This group hasn’t gotten in a game yet.

  12. By sbrown on Jun 6, 2013 | Reply

    While the Defense last season had a great amount of talent, with the coaching change and the new players added , I think we will see a high level of play again from the Defense this season. Agree with Easy E, that at this time of year every team, ( except for maybe Jacksonville and Oakland ) is looking like SB teams. Cards just need to keep with their plan, have a injury free mini / training camp and be ready for those Rams on Sept 8th.

  13. By ored on Jun 6, 2013 | Reply

    but we started off 4-0 last year,now with an improved offense(just healthy bodys alone) we have reason to be amped up,just count the positives from last year with play calling at the top.

    i know everyone else improved also but they just took a step…we’re gonna take a leap…we improved in so many ways,depth,youth,speed,athleticsm,coaching,qb,scheme,leaders,no more square pegs in round holes,playing to our strengths,and not the least is getting rid of that bad taste of last year..losing week after week,gotta be motivating and i’m sure the offense wants equal billing this year.

  14. By RoleyA on Jun 7, 2013 | Reply

    ORED, you’re so right. Other teams have taken strides while we’ve been making leaps and bounds. I think we’re going to be a much better team all around. I mean just look at some of these comparisons…

    Graves -> Keim
    Whiz -> Arians
    Miller -> Moore
    Horton -> Bowles (questionable, but I trust in Keim, BA)
    Kolb -> Palmer
    Snyder -> Colledge (with Cooper on the left)

    The defense with Horton was one of the most innovative I’ve ever seen…maybe even revolutionary. Some of the schemes were like typhoons, rolling blitzes from positions unheard off in the NFL. Bowles has big shoes to fill, but overall our team has gotten much better.

    From the coaching staff to the front office to the quarterback to the personnel depth to the chemistry and excitement about the team, everything has improved to a point that I haven’t seen with the Cardinals. Can’t wait for the season!

  15. By clssylssy on Jun 7, 2013 | Reply

    Agree with everyone…this time of year every team feels like they are bound for the playoffs. What concerns me is our lack of depth. We’ve got some great talent but are thin in some critical areas and while we still have money in the coffers that could be used to replace injured players down the line, who will be available to choose from as every other team is dealing with the same issues? What it comes down to in the end is who has the best men still standing who can win the big games.
    Actually Darren, great coaches are known for what they have contributed to the game not just wins. Case in point, Marty Shottenheimer never won a Superbowl but came in higher on the “Top 20 Coaches of All Time” than Bill Biliicheck because of his legacy as a teacher of great coaches including Tony Dungy, Herm Edwards, Bill Cowher, Cam Cameron, Wade Phillips, Mike Tomlin, Lovie Smith, Marvin Lewis, KEN WHISENHUNT…and BRUCE ARIANS. In turn these coaches produced other coaches in the style of “Martyball”. While he took many teams to the playoffs and coached many HOFers, he retired from the NFL without a ring.
    And thank you Annette for the kind words and vote of confidence!

  16. By Darren Urban on Jun 7, 2013 | Reply

    clssy —

    RE: Coaches

    Schottenheimer (who should not be ahead of Belichick, by the way, no matter how you are figuring these things) also won a ton of games. I didn’t say they had to win a Super Bowl. If you find a .500 coach (or worse) on the top 20 list, let me know.

  17. By Kevin S on Jun 7, 2013 | Reply

    No doubt our offense was never very good last year, but those first 4 games it was not bad. We scored 20, 20, 27 and 24 points and then never scored 20 again until the meaningless Detroit game in week 15. Those first 4 games we averaged 22.75 points and the last 12 we averaged 13.25 — almost 10 PPG less.
    If we could’ve kept scoring around 23 points a game we would’ve won several more games and would’ve been competitive in almost all of them.

    That’s why I think this team could surprise with the addition of Palmer and, of course, the other changes like Cooper et al. Yes, everyone else went out and made improvements too. But our QB situation was SO bad, that if the D can just be somewhere in the neighborhood of last year (even if slightly worse), you have to figure we aren’t going to have a string of 12 games where we score 19 points or less in 11 of them, and 14 or less in 7 or them. Plan to head to Vegas and make my bet on the Cardinals over 6 wins shortly.

  18. By ored on Jun 7, 2013 | Reply

    everything changes,players are bigger,stronger,faster,schemes change,coaches adapt,rules change…nobody really knows for sure when or where the next new wrinkle appears,but previous experience is still necessary and a sound defense,running game,and passing attack are basics,something we had a plan for this off season,now if they all come together i like our chances with or without any surprises,after all the champions last two years won it all playing hard nosed football.

    did’nt mean to leave out special teams,they can change a game.

  19. By georgiebird on Jun 7, 2013 | Reply

    Your comments about Horton being overrated has met with very high approval. But it wasn’t long ago that I made the same point about Horton being overrated and you could find hardly anyone agreeing with me. It’s easy to make comments after the fact. I made my anti-Horton comments when Horton was a near-God on this blog.
    Arians is such a professional compared to Horton- who is basically a LB coach who likes to blitz a lot- definitely not HC material.

  20. By JPhelps on Jun 8, 2013 | Reply

    In discussing the improvements at Defensive End/OLB there was no mention of Alex Okafor. ???

  21. By Darren Urban on Jun 8, 2013 | Reply

    JPhelps —

    RE: Okafor

    Fair point, although we’ll see if he can make an immediate impact.

  22. By sbrown on Jun 8, 2013 | Reply

    Kevis S. – you are dead on with the lack of scoring last season. The Cards, after the first four games scored : 3,16,14,3,17,19,17,6,0,38 ( vs Lions ) 13 and 13.
    IMO, the new look Offense, with everyone healthy this season will score more points than last season. More points keeps the Defense off the field as the O keeps some drives going, and more points will give the “sic’em” defense players more to play for if the Cards have the score tied or leading late in games.

  23. By ored on Jun 8, 2013 | Reply

    i would’nt go so far as saying he’s just a lb coach,rest of the league holds him in high regard,took little time for him to land in a promising will be interesting to see how our defense and his new teams compare.personally i think he is an up and coming coaching talent,probably still has a few things to learn,as does whiz,but as long as he’s flexible he’ll be fine.more to the point is our defense,players seem to be good with it so far but only counts in real game situations when changes are needed and it becomes more a chess game,the players will do their part,but need to be positioned correctly,thats on the coaches and scheme flexibility,but that is what we have camps and preseason for.when the game’s schemes and execution,and hopefully standout play.

    all things considered just with the added coaching our players are receiving points to better execution and that’s a big part right there.

  24. By stevenanimator on Jun 8, 2013 | Reply

    There were signs of weakness in the secondary during last season and although all is speculation at this point, I think the off-season acquisitions will be an improvement in that area. I’m also excited to see how Docket responds to single-gap. Combined with Arians track record as an OC/stand-in HC, I think the Cardinals have as good a chance as ever to hold their own in their division.

  25. By dieselbomb on Jun 9, 2013 | Reply

    I agree that Horton is/was over-rated. The D improved overall, but whatever the case: film shows and stats show it was a half-defense. The D against the run sucked and slowly got worse as the season rolled on.

    If we go by results, Horton was half-good and that’s it. Then he expected to be a Head Coach based on that.

  26. By Annette Richters on Jun 10, 2013 | Reply

    I still have to look at the method being used and all of the collective knowledge in BA and Moore. Both are historically QB coaches and I think we have three good QBs, when you call plays to their strengths. That seems to be what BA and Tom Moore have been about in the past. BB in New England does the same.

    I will predict again that we will have a 12-4 year. I challenge anyone to say we can’t win our division. ATTITUDE IS EVERYTHING. Our guys have attitude.

    Your welcome Classy Lassy

  27. By BluePitt on Jun 10, 2013 | Reply

    @aaron and georgiebird,
    I was right their when Horton Was “GOD” asking why every one could gouge us on the deep ball and we couldnt stop the run….Kolb did have us scoring 20ish points a game good enough to win………lol

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