Since Ray Horton was released from his contract by the team, many have wondered about the future of the Cardinals defense. Would it be as dominant as it has been over the past couple of seasons? Would changes be coming about via scheme or personnel?
Well, all of that is still in play, even with the hiring of Todd Bowles as defensive coordinator. Bowles has experience coaching in both the 3-4 and 4-3 defensive alignments, so a change for the Cardinals is not out of the question. Under Horton, they played a Steelers 3-4 system.
So what if the Cardinals go to a 4-3? I asked The Sports Headquarters' Seth Cox (Twitter), a very knowledgeable Cardinals fan and draft expert, his opinion on the possible change. Check out the questions I asked him, as well as his answers below.
1) What do you think of the idea of the Cardinals switching to a 4-3 defense? Bowles has experience coaching that scheme and it could be the way he chooses to take this team.
Seth: It's not just the scheme of a 43 that Cardinals fans have to worry about, it is what type of 43 defense that Bowles may bring in.
In Philadelphia the Eagles ran a very specific technique approach by defensive line coach Jim Washburn that has famously become known as a "wide 9".
First off the "Wide 9" isn't a defensive scheme, it is an alignment of the DE where he aligns himself outside of the TE, or in some instances where the TE would be lined up.
This was a catastrophic failure for Bowles and company, but you have to wonder how much that had to do with Bowles, and how much of it was about Bowles just finishing out an already failed season.
If Bowles does bring in a 43 defensive scheme, and it's not even a forgone conclusion he will, I would love to see him bring in a more 4-3 under defense, similar to what the Seahawks and soon to be Jacksonville Jaguars will be running.
Why the 4-3 under defense?
2) If the Cardinals do go to the 4-3, who are some players currently on the roster that would thrive in the scheme? Which players would struggle?
Seth: The reason I would like to see the Cardinals move to more of a 4-3 under defense is simply because of the personnel the Cardinals already have on the staff.
The basics of the 4-3 under defense, as provided by Trojan Football Analysis.
Bringing in a 4-3 under defense would help immediately with players like:
Dan Williams- Getting to continue to play from more of a NT position on the defensive line playing a slightly altered 1 technique instead of the traditional 0 technique.
Darnell Dockett- Playing Darnell back a traditional 3 tech, he would be used in a similar to Jason Jones of the Seahawks. An undersized pass rushing threat out of the interior line.
Calais Campbell- He would likely lose his pass rushing shake, but he would be lined up in a similar area to the 3-4 and be a force on the right side vs the run.
Sam Acho- You see where the SLB is lining up? Would this not be ridiculously similar to what he is playing at this time in the 3-4. Instead of moving him off the line of scrimmage, he will continue to be able to play near the TE and drop into coverage, or blitz from the outside.
Daryl Washington- Washington is the main concern I have heading to any type of traditional 4-3 defense, as I see him being successful, but don't see a guy who is going to be nearly as effective as he was in his near All Pro 2012 season.
3) Which players could the Cards look at in the draft (any rounds) that would be a good fit for their 4-3 defense?
Seth: Clearly moving towards a 4-3 defense not everyone is going to be great fit.
There will be some concerns about Dan Williams, Sam Acho, and there will be a massive hole to fill at MLB and likely at strong safety.
The biggest need though will be at defensive end.
The Cardinals need a pass rusher in the mold of a Chris Clemons, someone that isn't a pass rusher only, but someone who can stay on the field every down.
Names that fans can look for, and guys I will be building Cardinals focused scouting reports on as we near the draft and get a better idea of what the Cardinals will be doing in the draft so here are the first two rounds of guys:
Round 1 Defensive Names:
Star Lotulelei- DT Utah
Bjoern Werner- DE Florida St
DaMontre Moore- DE Texas A&M
Barkevious Mingo- DE LSU
Dion Jordan- LB/DE Oregon
Round 2 Defensive Names:
Kevin Minter- ILB LSU
Arthur Brown- ILB Kansas St
Tony Jefferson- S Oklahoma
Matt Elam- S Florida
Eric Reid- S LSU
Khaseem Greene- LB Rutgers
Thanks to Seth for answering my questions with such detail. What do you think of the Cardinals converting to the 4-3 after reading this? Good idea or bad idea? Tell us in the comments section below.