Waiting for a new defensive coordinator

Posted by Darren Urban on January 14, 2015 – 3:40 pm

The coaches’ offices are dark right now, not a surprise at this time in the offseason. But there is still work to do and moves to be made for Bruce Arians, now that Todd Bowles is headed to be the Jets’ head coach.

(Which, interestingly, still has yet to be officially announced at 3:40 p.m. Arizona time here on Wednesday. UPDATE: Twenty minutes later, it is.)

Bowles is expected to bring Cardinals’ inside linebackers coach Mike Caldwell with him for his staff, and there is a chance he also brings along someone else, like defensive assistant Ryan Slowik. So there very well could be a couple of coaching staff openings Arians will have to fill when this all filters out. But for now, the focus is on the coordinator spot Bowles is vacating. All season, Bowles was trending toward getting a head coaching job somewhere, so when Arians said late in the season he had a plan in place to replace Bowles, that certainly wasn’t a surprise.

That was before Dick LeBeau left the Steelers. Arians has talked to LeBeau about a job, and when you connect the dots, it does make sense to have LeBeau in a Tom Moore-esque role and to hire a defensive coordinator, as reports suggest. It also rings true to me that Arians would look to his existing defensive staff to find his defensive coordinator, although who that would be remains a guess. There is also a question of whether LeBeau would want to move, at age 77, this far away from his Ohio-based family.

(LeBeau’s potential arrival does make for other interesting questions, even if he isn’t DC. Darnell Dockett, for instance, didn’t love the scheme of former DC Ray Horton, who was a LeBeau disciple.)

I know many want to know what this all means for the Cardinals in terms of scheme. If the Cardinals stay in-house, does the defense simply echo what Bowles had been doing all along? Is it tweaked and if so, how much? I’m sure Arians has already thought these things through already. With empty offices right now, we’ll see how quickly this all comes together.

Dick LeBeau, Mike Tomlin, Bruce Arians

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31 Responses to “Waiting for a new defensive coordinator”

  1. By tkm on Jan 14, 2015 | Reply

    —i know one thing greg toler is as good as defender as pp and he is a tackling machine.i’m not so sure i would have rather have toler ,less money and a tackling machine

  2. By Big Ken on Jan 14, 2015 | Reply

    All of Phoenix’s warm sunshine, absence of snow, golf, fishing, how could an old timer pass it up. What do we get in return? A guy that puts together insane monster defenses.

  3. By EDijkstra on Jan 14, 2015 | Reply

    PP’s tackling is just fine.

  4. By Mark in Chandler on Jan 14, 2015 | Reply

    PFT is reporting that Kacy Rogers is being hired as the DC with Bowles which may mean that Caldwell may get a chance to be the DC in Arizona.

  5. By desertpirate on Jan 14, 2015 | Reply

    LeBeau as guru and steal Fangio from 9ers. He’s probably plenty pissed that he was passed over in favor of a defensive LINE coach.

  6. By D on Jan 14, 2015 | Reply

    He will go inhouse, either Rapone or Ross.

    I would like to see V. Fangio from SF since it appears he will be looking for a job.
    I hope they don’t go back to a Horton/LeBeau type Defense, if that’s the case, they should just change to a 4-3 this spring.

    Campbell, Dockett, (first round draft pick), Shaughnessy
    backups, Rucker, Stinson, Martin and Mauro

    Okafor, Minter, DWash
    backups- Carson, Demens, / free agent addition

  7. By K-Dub on Jan 14, 2015 | Reply


    No interest in Fangio? SF HC was hired after the in promotion from within report.

  8. By Darren Urban on Jan 15, 2015 | Reply

    K-Dub —

    RE: Fangio

    I don’t see it at this point. We’ll see.

  9. By Stephen on Jan 14, 2015 | Reply

    Something tells me that Vic Fangio would really really love to stick it to the 49ers right now.

  10. By Scott H on Jan 14, 2015 | Reply

    Man, it really is getting hard – and dangerous – to have hope around here these days! Consider that….

    I hoped Palmer’s injury wouldn’t end his season. It did.

    I hoped Stanton would be back for the playoffs. He wasn’t.

    I hoped we would win the division. We didn’t.

    I hoped we would be 12-4. We weren’t.

    I hoped we would be a top seed in the NFC. Didn’t happen.

    I hoped we would at least beat the Panthers. Nope.

    I hoped Todd Bowles would stay. He left.

    NOW, I hope Fitz will stay here. But maybe I shouldn’t!

    Because EVERY DAMN THING I hoped for over the last 2 months went right down the toilet.

    Geez, what an end to a season that looked at one time very recently to be maybe the best season we ever had.

  11. By Scott H on Jan 14, 2015 | Reply

    Well, I wish Bowles well in his new position but I really do have to wonder if this is gonna go well for Bowles OR the Jets. The Jets are a long way from being a factor and they have a lot of problems there, most notably the QB situation. Geno Smith is NOT the guy. And Michael Vick is done. So…where are they going any time soon??? They have a LONG way to go to even get out of last place in their own division. I think the Jets were a dicey situation for a new HC to walk into, to say the least. Certainly not as attractive as the Falcons.

    And, as stated earlier, I just don’t know that I really saw TB as ready to be the top guy. Not yet, anyway. He did a GREAT job as a DC here the last 2 years. OK. But what else has he done at the coordinator level in the NFL that has really put him on the map??? Not a whole lot. Not to say HE did a horrible job as DC in Philly….maybe that was not ALL his fault. But based on what that defense looked like when he was there, I wasn’t psyched at all when I heard he was coming to Arizona.

    But…we shall see. It certainly has been a more common trend in recent years for younger coordinators to get HC jobs after only a short period of success, even if only with ONE team.

  12. By CreditCard on Jan 14, 2015 | Reply

    Dick LeBeau in my opinion might perfectly fit the defensive roll as what Tom Moore does on offense. 77-yrs old, still active in the decision making, but not all the long hours, and giving timing mentoring like a Tibetan monk to the younger coaches and players. Allow LeBeau to enjoy the AZ sunshine.

    Best of luck to Todd Bowles, appears to be a good man, and a talented DC. I’m sure his players will respect him and play hard for him — he brings no non-sense position to the Jets, Non-show biz related, completely opposite of Rex Ryan.

    Each year is really a new team. The Cards have tough salary cap issues to deal with, along with an aging QB situation. Stanton was a good back-up, but appears fragile — not a good combo with Palmer.

    Kiem will have to pull the rabbit out of the hat this spring, and pull a good draft class. He definitely did better his 2nd yr than his 1st yr during the draft.

  13. By Dynosoar on Jan 14, 2015 | Reply

    I like Brentson Buckner as DC. It didn’t matter what big play happened, if there was a sideline shot of the player who made the play, Brentson was there congratulating the player. And I watched players talking AND listening to him. Plus, he has that HUGE beard.

    I trust BA to make a good choice. He did the first time. He will the second.

  14. By superbowlcards on Jan 14, 2015 | Reply

    The 49ers passed over their D-coordinator as head coach so Im pretty sure he will be seeking employment, anyone thinking he too will be added to the list of new Cardinal D-coordinator. Also if Arians promotes Caldwell to D-coordinator, then he couldnt follow TB to the Jets, right?
    Im assuming Bowles is taking him to make him D-coordinator?
    Promoting Caldwell may be the way to go, he knows the players, knows Bowles schemes and probably wouldnt change much, which means the players wont have to learn a whole new system, that helps quite a bit come training camp, just dont have to waste precious time inputting a new system, dont have to worry about players not picking up or fitting into the new system!! Plus BA could bring in LeBeau to mentor Caldwell in his transition to D-coordinator.
    One other intriguing name is the Bills now ex coordinator, Jim Shwartz (sp) but if I remember correctly, he is a 4-3 guy, does anyone know for sure?? He also has head coaching experience, which cant hurt, it has to come in handy sometime.

  15. By dieselbomb on Jan 14, 2015 | Reply

    Bowles fit very well, and the team responded fabulously. I don’t think we can count on that being restored easily with any of Arians’ potential choices. We’re going to have to plan for the worst, but hope for the best. Yet, the fact that BA chose Bowles in the first place says a lot. So his vision taken with his talent evaluation skills, coupled with his persuasiveness give a little more comfort that because of BA’s overall ability and reputation he’ll find a good replacement. It just might not be as scintillating to us as the effect Bowles had on our Defense to produce that 2013 record – and how deep into 2014 that same level of play stood. Pretty big shoes to fill. Lebeau would be good; but so would Wade Phillips. But we’ll have to sit on our hands to find out.

  16. By Steve on Jan 14, 2015 | Reply

    Darren: If LeBeau is indeed hired by the Cards to help mentor our defense, do you think he might also have some input in the draft, particularly the LBs the Cards might be interested in drafting? The Steelers have always drafted good LBs every year and I’m sure LeBeau had a hand in that process.

  17. By Darren Urban on Jan 15, 2015 | Reply

    Steve —

    RE: Draft/LeBeau

    He’ll be like every other coach who will have some input in draft meetings, but that’s about it. Keim and his staff make those calls.

  18. By superbowlcards on Jan 14, 2015 | Reply

    BA is the lowest paid coach in the NFC West, or was last year, not sure how much the 49ers are paying their new Head Coach, and what is truly stunning to me is now that Todd Bowles is the Head Coach of the Jets he is making $1 million per year more than his mentor, something is definitely wrong with that picture!! He has won more games in his first two season than any other Cardinal Head Coach, and this year he somehow managed (or head coached) his way into 11 wins!! No other team or coached could have had the success with all the injuries that decimated our roster!!
    I would think 5 years at $5.5 – $6.5 million per year seems like a good starting point at least. PC up in Seattle makes $7 million but they are the defending champions and are still alive to repeat, so that seems fair, what I don’t get is JF in St Louis makes the same
    amount, for what??? Holding up the rest of the division from the bottom?? Now I understand that Fisher wasnt a rookie coach when he inked his deal with the Rams, and they pretty much went after him by name!! Even JH in San Fran made $5 million this year, pretty sure he was a rookie NFL coachwhen he signed, bottom line, if the Cardinals can pay PP a Gazillion Million dollars for supposedly being the best Cornerback, I would think they could pay the best coach (3 years in a row as coach of the year!!) Ain the NFL between $5.5 – $6.5 million!! Anyone else see my point??

    Actually not sure if BA won coach of the year this year, but he should be a shoe-in if they haven’t announced yet, and if he doesn’t win, that would be complete BS!!

  19. By clssylssy on Jan 14, 2015 | Reply

    Toler was one of the first to go a few years back with “the purge”. With the way the Colts are playing, I can’t imagine him wanting to trade that to come back to Arizona. As expected, the Cards are just beginning to fall and along with coaches and staff we can expect to see a very difference face to our roster. Coach Bowles was very popular with his players and I would imagine that he would take more than a few with him as well as Caldwell and others.
    With players like Dockett it may not be about the money but more about job satisfaction and how much hoop jumping he feels he still wants to do. These are the dark days of football for fans and it’s too bad that the timing has to overshadow and detracts from the upcoming Probowl and Superbowl festivities.

  20. By Marlin on Jan 15, 2015 | Reply

    Bowles did a good job creating hybrid scheme. Sometimes we looked like a classic 4 man front…..other times a 3/4. I like that. LeBeau defenses rarely employ a 4 man front. Here’s hoping that we continue the Bowles versions of defensive schemes.

  21. By Andy Kw on Jan 15, 2015 | Reply

    Hey Darren,
    Could the information on this website be true about Dick LeBeau joining the Cardinals in a similar role like Tom Moore?

    Any updates on who the Cardinals will interview for the Defensive Coordinator position?
    Vic Fangio? Nick Rapone? Mike Caldwell? Brentson Buckner?

  22. By Darren Urban on Jan 15, 2015 | Reply

    Andy Kw —

    RE: LeBeau/Moore role

    You mean like I wrote in the above post?

    Or here?

    There are no updates. May not be until next week.

  23. By D on Jan 15, 2015 | Reply

    I am guessing Michael B will take care of BA and Mr. Keim…hard to believe that Fisher in St. Louis is making all that money for a career 500 average…I wonder if that played in BA’s comments after that Ram game…

    There was some worry about Bowles interest in CRO going back to the Jets…which is a possibility, but I hear he has already reached out to Asante Samuel in joining the Jet’s, so maybe Asante will be a cheaper alternative to CRO

  24. By Andy Kw on Jan 15, 2015 | Reply

    Darren, you said potential arrival but not officially hired. I want to know if he is truly coming here.

  25. By Darren Urban on Jan 15, 2015 | Reply

    Andy Kw —

    RE: LeBeau

    That decision hasn’t been made yet, I do not believe. Nothing certainly has been announced.

  26. By NJAzCardsFan on Jan 15, 2015 | Reply

    Scott H

    Please…. next year please turn your “hoping” on the Seahawks, 49’ers and Rams as you can do the Cards a big favor. You killed the Cards this year….-LOL-

    Thanks the Az Cardinals Nation

  27. By Scott H on Jan 15, 2015 | Reply

    NJAzCardsFan –

    Yeah, I was thinking the same! Good lord….

    Really, it wasn’t me who killed the Cardinals. It was the Rams. They knocked Palmer out in the first game, then they knocked out Stanton in the second. Yet, they left Lindley un-harmed….

    I really can’t decide which of those was the most cruel.

  28. By superbowlcards on Jan 15, 2015 | Reply

    If Fangio is thepick for D-coordinator, I wonder if he lures any pending big name 49er free agents to follow,. or if the 49ers even have any free agents worth luring, either way I would hhave to say Fangio is at least being considered. Whoever the choice is, Cardinals need to lock up Cromartie as soon as humanly possible!!

  29. By Eazy E on Jan 16, 2015 | Reply

    Just pick the best defensive coach to coordinate the defense!

  30. By clssylssy on Jan 16, 2015 | Reply

    @Scott H..
    Very well stated and I believe many Cards fans share your feelings (although they may not admit it). As you will remember, Coach Bowles was an interim HC coach previously with the Dolphins so he has had some exposure to what the job entails.
    When BA came here he had no HC experience either other than the interim gig with the Colts so, at some point, if HCing is the career goal, these guys just have to take the plunge and hope for the best. I’m sure Coach Bowles has learned volumes during his two years here. It’s not like they can’t go back to becoming a coordinator, which, I think many of the real football guys find they are better suited for, and happier at, than being in the more administrative role of the HC (although HCing does come with the perks of getting all of the accolades for the work of the “grunts” in the trenches.) Remember, it’s only a four year contract, and sometimes, contracts being what they are in the NFL, make those years pretty short! Coach Bowles was very loved and respected by the players which is usually the mark of a great coach, and so, while he may be more soft spoken in public and not one seeking out the camera, I think, he will handle the job with grace and class and do just fine with his own style. God only knows the Jets need somebody to bring a little class into that organization but with the players they have, I think Coach Bowles could get them back to the playoffs, and he knows the importance of a great defense’s ability to win games!
    On a different note, you did not kill the Cards this year, that credit belongs a little higher up the food chain! I’m just hoping that this time around, the powers-at-be, were paying attention and have figured out a way to prepare for the worse case QB injury scenario.

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