We know that the last offseason was anything but a normal one. The transition between the 2010 and 2011 seasons consisted of a massive labor dispute, which, in essence, almost did away with the offseason altogether. OTAs were canceled, minicamps were nonexistent and the coaches had a short amount of time to teach their guys what they needed to know in training camp.
That objective was made even more difficult for Cardinals defensive coordinator, Ray Horton, who had just come over from Pittsburgh and was looking to install a very complex scheme.
This year, however, Horton has noticed a major difference in not only the readiness of the team, but the attitude as well.
Horton was on the airwaves yesterday with Arizona Sports 620's Doug and Wolf and noted that the difference between this year and last year is almost like, "night and day." He suggested that if he wants to install a new play or try something new, the building blocks are already set, so all he has to do is tell the guys what he wants and they go out and do it.
He did mention that the young players (namely, the rookies) are struggling with the adjustments, though. It is to be expected, but one has to wonder how the UDFAs will fare trying to play in this defensive system.
One player that Horton did put in the spotlight was rookie Jamell Fleming, who Horton seems to think very highly of. He says that Fleming makes a big play "everyday" and seems to be in the right place at the right time all the time. His intelligence seems to be off the charts.
Lastly, there seems to be one thing that Horton would like to see an improvement on this year from his defense: turnover ratio. Turnovers, as we know, can either make or break games, and since the team was only average at that last year, creating more this season will understandably be at the top of their priority list.
It sounds like it is all coming together nicely and if everything runs as smooth as Ray Horton speaks, this could be a season for the record books for the Arizona Cardinals defense.