Arizona Cardinals defense under Todd Bowles: 3-4 or 4-3?

Rich Schultz

While the new Arizona Cardinals Defensive Coordinator has run both basic schemes in Miami and Philadelphia, he seems intent on staying with former DC Ray Horton's defense.

When new Arizona Cardinals head coach was hired, one of the first responses was from defensive tackle Darnell Dockett, who seemed excited about him getting back to his former dominant self after a lost season in Horton's defense in which he played two gap - basically taking on both guard and tackle to free up Daryl Washington, Sam Acho/ OBrien Schofeld or blitzing safeties. He failed miserably when put in that position. But with Todd Bowles defense, the expectation is he and Calais Campbell will get more opportunities to rush one-on-one while the linebackers will play a more traditional role of covering the underbelly middle of the defense. And he seems to relish it.

Which would fit in with Bowles (and Arians, on the offense) philosophy - you base your system on the players you have, not force the personnel you have into your scheme,(ala former coach Ken Whisenhunt's ideal.) Bowles played a basic four defensive front with the Eagles last year to mostly bad results - which may have been forced by the front office to continue the late Jim Johnson's legacy defense.

So, while obviously the defense will be a hybrid - no team plays a straight 30 or 40 front since the '85 Bears, it will be interesting to see where (and how the performances grade out) with less safety blitzes now that Adrian Wilson is gone to the Patriots, more undertackle play from Dockett and pass coverage from Acho and Schofeld. And that doesn't include the unknown from the rookies, Kevin Minter and Alex Okafor and the role Dan Williams will play, yet alone the suspension of Daryl Washington.

Should be a very engaging offseason on which way the defense - which was undoubtedly the strongest part of the team last season - goes this year.

P.S. Some links that I thought were insightful, yet not "impactful" evidently:

Bowles, when being interviewed for the Detroit Lions head coaching job:

And a ROTB blog about the possible defense Bowles could bring:

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