As Todd Bowles begins to journey into his first full fledge defensive coordinator position, there is a lot of talk about a good Cardinals defense he is inheriting, and how he will utilize that defense to make it, at worst, equal to what Ray Horton was rolling out week to week.
One of the keys to the "new" old Cardinals defense is the starting defensive line and how they will be utilized in their new "one gap" assignment football.
In the 3-4 there may be no bigger key to the rest of the success of the defense than the nose tackle, but how does this change the responsibility of one Dan Williams, and is he ready to handle those new responsibilities? Are there others on the team that could be competing with Williams for playing time in the Cardinals new scheme?
When Dan Williams was drafted the thought was he was the prototype nose tackle for a 3-4 defense.
A mountain of a man, with a thick lower body to anchor versus double teams, and enough lateral quickness and movement to get down the line against single blocks and make plays in the run game.
Williams was never looked at as a pass rushing threat, and rightfully so, as he doesn't possess an elite first step get off that allows him to control an offensive lineman, but instead uses his strong hands to engage and move blockers.
With the new one gap scheme, Williams won't get much in the way of lining up head up on the center and just powering his way into the backfield, no instead he'll be asked to get across the face on blockers and get into a spot on the defense, filling his gap and playing in the backfield.
Williams' greatest asset, his strength becomes negated because he won't need to consistently take on double teams, but instead he'll be asked to maintain an area, and flow with a play, keeping gap containment and basically being a cog in the wheel on a play, instead of keeping the linebackers clean on a play by play basis.
This could be quite the adjustment for Williams, and I wouldn't be surprised if he struggled in his new role to start the season.
David Carter took a step back in 2012, after having an unexpectedly impactful 2011.
Carter possesses the traits that Williams lacks. He is explosive off the ball, quickly getting to and through his gap responsibilities when he was asked to play in a one gap role on passing downs.
He worked well from the nose tackle spot in '11 because he was able to shoot gaps and use his quickness, giving him an advantage early.
When he was asked to play a more traditional role as a two gap defensive end in 2012, he struggled, and wasn't able to put up the same numbers.
Could Ricky Lumpkin or Padric Scott have an impact in 2013?
Lumpkin is an undersized, yet explosive and deceptively powerful player who knows how to use his first step quickness to make a play on the ball.
In a one gap scheme he'll be able to penetrate, and attack much more consistently, and if given a chance, he may surprise folks this year.
Scott, like Lumpkin, is an undersized fit as a nose tackle, but with the switch to the one gap scheme, there's a real chance he could stick on the roster if he outplays Lumpkin, or at least make it onto the practice squad as a depth guy for 2014 when Dan Williams' contract is up.
As the Cardinals switch schemes, we could see some name changes along the defense in order to get the best eleven men on the field, and starting at the nose tackle position, I really think we could see quite the battle between Williams and Carter as we move along, simply because of Carter's fit in the one gap scheme over Williams.
No matter who comes out on top, the Cardinals do have some interesting names at the nose tackle position, and some players that can fit, so keep your eye on the nose tackles heading into camp.