New DC could impact Cardinals on the nose

Posted by Darren Urban on January 16, 2015 – 1:56 pm

I don’t think we’ll be hearing anything about the Cardinals’ vacant defensive coordinator job until next week (the coaches remain off, although former defensive coordinator/new Jets coach Todd Bowles did drop by Thursday and again Friday as he settled his affairs with the organization and said goodbyes.) We’ll wait to see if the Dick LeBeau rumors come to pass of him joining the Cardinals’ staff, and who else might be impacted (if LeBeau is a consultant, does outside linebackers James Bettcher become defensive coordinator? Or defensive backs coach Nick Rapone? Or someone else?)

What kind of scheme the Cardinals use will be the first question everyone will want to know, and if LeBeau arrives, whether it’s he dealing with what the Cardinals have been running or vice versa. The scheme of LeBeau and the scheme of Bowles have some parallels but they were definitely different — especially up front, where LeBeau (and disciple Ray Horton when he was DC of the Cardinals) look to have the linemen “two-gap” and allow the linebackers to roam and make plays. Bowles was willing to let his lineman just head one way and make a play. It’s a big reason why Darnell Dockett was so happy when Bowles arrived, as I mentioned the other day, although LeBeau had used more one-gap in the last couple of years and let his 3-4 ends rush the passer more often.

Either way, a good nose tackle is important. And the Cardinals face a crucial offseason when it comes to their nose tackles. Starter Dan Williams is an unrestricted free agent. Alameda Ta’amu, who had a disappointing season coming off a torn ACL, is a restricted free agent. Ta’amu is an interesting case, because he played well in 2013 and can be kept for a minimum of a restricted free agent tender offer. He didn’t tear up his knee until the season finale in 2013 and it wasn’t that shocking he was slow to recover, but the Cardinals were still expecting more from him this season. (It’s notable that LeBeau’s Steelers cut Ta’amu last year, which is how the Cardinals got him off waivers in the first place.)

Williams is more dicey. I’d think the Cardinals want him back. Williams said he would like to be back, but again, this is about money. What will the open market bring for Williams? Williams played pretty well this season and his weight isn’t the issue it used to be. But there is already a ton of money tied up in the defensive line (at least for now) with Calais Campbell and Dockett, and that also must fit into the equation. There was a reason the Cards drafted two defensive linemen last year.

Ed Stinson and veteran Tommy Kelly can play inside but it is Williams and/or Ta’amu who are the true nose tackles on the roster for now. Someone will need to be there in May too. If it isn’t Williams, can it be Ta’amu? Or someone else?


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18 Responses to “New DC could impact Cardinals on the nose”

  1. By D on Jan 16, 2015 | Reply

    I am guessing D. Williams will get money whipped this free agency since he is young. I think if they keep the Defense similar to the Bowles system and are able to bring back T Kelly, I think they will let Williams go, keep Ta’amu on a min deal and then use the draft as a future DT replacement, one player in this upcoming draft that would be a possibility under this scenario would be Joey Mbu from Houston in round 3-4, typical run stuffing wide body..

  2. By georgiebird on Jan 16, 2015 | Reply

    Very good article. My eyes lit up when I read “what kind of scheme the Cardinals use will be the first question”.
    1) tough to run the 3-4 without a dominant NT requiring double team.
    2) As usual the young LBs were a disappointment in 2014. While Okafor was a nice surprise- their were disappointing results from the other young LBs like Minter, Acho and Carson. The other guys were no more than ok whether due to injury or failure to seize the moment. The thought of having four very good LBs seems remote.
    3) Cards would be better off with a 4-3 with Kelly, Dan, Ta’amu, Stinson vying for the tackle spots. Campbell, Rucker, Kareem, Mauro and #1 draft choice as DEs.
    (expect Dockett to be gone along with Larry).

  3. By Darren Urban on Jan 16, 2015 | Reply

    Georgie —

    RE: Scheme

    When I say scheme, I mean two-gap or one-gap.

    I will be shocked if they go to a 4-3 base. They won’t if LeBeau is here.

  4. By georgiebird on Jan 16, 2015 | Reply

    I know you didn’t say 4-3. The word “scheme” just got my mouth watering. I started to embellish the whole “what if” experience. It was me just running with the ball before it was even thrown my way. I just got carried away with the prospect of more DLs and less LBs.
    Now back to reality. The 3-4 it is. But somehow I see “square peg and round hole” theory. I may be right, I may be crazy.

  5. By djjackson81 on Jan 16, 2015 | Reply

    Without the LB’s it’s a mute point to run LeBeau’s two gap. AZ has to draft OLB ILB for LeBeaus scheme to work. If LeBeau isn’t the DC then why would BA promote from withing to run LeBeuas schemes. Advisor to help coach whomever BA names his DC is one thing. If BA was gonna hand the scheme over to LeBeau then LeBaue brings his guys to run his scheme don’t you think ?

  6. By Marlin on Jan 16, 2015 | Reply

    My sense is that Williams is gone.

  7. By superbowlcards on Jan 17, 2015 | Reply

    I have to say I love your tenacity when it comes to the Cardinals switching to the 4-3, you just don’t give up (wish some of the Cardinals, like the young linebackers you mention had as much tenacity as you do!) but it is time to waive the white flag it just isnt feasible to ake the switch, besides as I mentioned in a previous post, if we keep Bowles schemes we run alot of plays in the 4-3 set, albeit a hybrid version, with the ILB’s we have, as well as the D-line personnel, the current 3-4 is the best, and most feasible option for the Cardinals!! As mentioned, switching defenses after years of drafting and signing free agents to fit the 3-4 (a very successful 3-4 I ight add) it would means years of mediocre play, and years of mediocre records, we have a very small window to bring the Lombardi Trophy to Arizona, and the team needs to take advantage of that window, besides the Cards front office and Head Coach are 3-4 guys, so please sir, stop wasting space, and time, it just isn’t happening!!

  8. By redhawk1960 on Jan 17, 2015 | Reply

    Darren, gaston will be back. I don’t see the packers keeping him, I think they got him for insurance, when he left the bulding to go to the packers they told him, they will see him next year. He is in their plans, they told so. I really think he will be back they really liked him

  9. By Big Ken on Jan 17, 2015 | Reply

    I think the team can upgrade at nose tackle. I never thought Dan Williams became the player they thought he would, being a first round selection.

  10. By jme on Jan 17, 2015 | Reply

    dockett and fitz will be back, they are cardinals 100%… Especially Dockett he is a pure blood Arizonian…

  11. By Chuck 1 on Jan 17, 2015 | Reply

    superbowlcards (and others who write that the Cards “have a very small window to bring the Lombardi Trophy to Arizona”):

    If Keim and BA do their thing like Belichek (sp?) and the Patriots’ GM do, there shouldn’t be a “very small window” i.e. draft smartly and sign quality FAs.

    The Patriots vie for the Lombardi Trophy almost every year.

  12. By Keith on Jan 17, 2015 | Reply

    The 3-4 usually has a good pass rush and we haven’t had that, no pressure and the DBs end up trying to cover too long and get beat. I would like to see a 4-3, I can see a multitude of possibilities with the personnel we have and what we can acquire. No matter the system or scheme we need a pass rusher. What is the status of Daryl Washington, is he going to be cut, in jail, or a possibility for the upcoming season.

  13. By Dr. G. on Jan 18, 2015 | Reply


    Re: The Pats vie every year?

    When you have a quarterback like Tom Brady, the window for getting to the post season gets pretty wide open. He’s been there for 15 years. The Cards need to concentrate on developing that position with youth. It all begins and ends with the QB…we proved that misfortune. When Brady was out?

    We have only a short term recipe unless we upgrade in the draft and work on getting Logan some serious reps… and keep the eagle eye on the O line…be well

  14. By clssylssy on Jan 19, 2015 | Reply

    Watching the Division Championships this weekend, and after digesting what Fitz’s assessment of the Seahawks was, I can only hope that we get a young progressive DC, who has the chops to demand a high level of execution and performance from his players. The defenses I have watched were very physical, fast, and aggressive and you could tell that it’s wasn’t just the coaching but a certain dedication to their craft and a warrior’s mentality by the individual players. It’s about having the best talent at each position in players who have personal standards of excellence, something I don’t feel Keim has really focused on in his drafts, taking on more projects, than perhaps we have the resources to develop and then seeing those draft picks die on the vine from lack of nurturance. When looking at these teams left in the Championships, I was struck with how tough they are and the physicality of their play and have to wonder why we don’t do more to improve the strength and physicality of our players. I know a lot of players cross train in the off season, which is so fundamental for career athletes and something I know Fitz does, but does anyone else really work so hard in staying in shape. With all of the restrictions of the CBA I would think that BA would stress the importance of staying in shape and fit during the offseason, and that even though they aren’t on the field this is a time for “independent study” to insure their future whether it is with this team or some place else. One of the values in having iconic veterans on the team is so that they can pass on the secrets of their success and reinforce on a more man-to-man level the importance of independent training and conditioning.
    We have a lot of talent on the Cards team but for the most part it is undeveloped; they are half the size, with half the expertise (developed skills) and are in need of a coach who will focus more on strength/conditioning and mastery of basic skills and toughness to get us to the next level.

  15. By clssylssy on Jan 19, 2015 | Reply

    Bill Bilichick is HC AND GM for the Patriots so there is little chance that BA and Keim will ever do things like they do…and the Patriots do make the playoffs nearly every year with three SB wins and working on their 4th!

  16. By Dr. G. on Jan 19, 2015 | Reply

    Two suggestions for our 24th pick::

    1. Brett

    2. Hundley

    Read the accuracy reviews. An AZ boy…

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