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Gregg Manusky Could Give Cardinals Defense A Boost

Assuming he lands in the desert this offseason.

Manuskyinterviewed with the Cardinals' brass Tuesday as the first candidate for the vacant defensive coordinator position. The Cardinals began the offseason by relieving former coordinator Bill Davis of his duties just a week ago. In 2010, the defense showcased the 29th-worst overall ranking in the league. They also surrendered 29.7 points per game to opponents. The release of Davis was inevitable.

Now Ken Whsienhunt faces the task of picking a coordinator that fits with the scheme he will be running. Manusky has spent the previous four seasons with the Cardinals hated rival -- the San Francisco 49ers. As the fans are well aware, the 49ers defense has been one of the most improved throughout the league with each passing season. Much of that credit goes to Manusky, who crafted the 49ersdefense into the strengthof their team and one of the large reasons they were considered the favorite to win the NFC West this past offseason.

Manusky is not expected to return in San Francisco, and reportedly has interviews scheduled with the San Diego Chargers and Dallas Cowboys. If the Cardinals are serious about improving the embarrassing 5-11 record from this past season, all they need to do is say the right things to put Manusky in the Cardinals attire.

During his four year stint in the bay area, Manusky coached Pro Bowl players Justin Smith, and arguably the best middle linebacker in the league in Patrick Willis. The revitalised careersof Smith and veteran linebacker Takeo Spikes are also a testament to what Manusky accomplished while in San Fransisco.

The same result can occurin Arizona, with veterans like Joey Porter, Clark Haggans, and Paris Lenon on the defense. His tough attitude could translate onto the field, and his commitment to the game may be what the Cardinals defense needs. The 49ers website had the following to say after the 2009 season:

Under Manusky’s guidance, the 49ers defense has significantly improved in each of the past three seasons. In five games in 2009, Manusky’s unit did not allow a single touchdown, marking a franchise record and ranking t-1st in the NFL (NY Jets). San Francisco’s defense went on to rank among the top 5 NFL teams in several statistical categories, including forced fumbles (21, t-1st), sacks (44, t-3rd), rushing yards allowed per attempt (3.6 avg., 3rd), opponent red zone scoring (40.4 pct., 3rd), points allowed (17.6 ppg., 4th) and takeaways (33, t-5th). The 44 sacks, 281 points allowed and 1,552 rushing yards allowed marked the best totals by the team since 1997. In addition, the 49ers ranked 6th in the NFL in yards allowed per play (4.97), run defense (97.0 ypg.) and first downs allowed per game (17.4).

A well-regarded teacher and communicator, Manuskydeveloped the Chargers linebacking corps into one of the NFL’s stingiest units. They were part of a defense that finished the 2006 season ranked 7thagainst the rush and 3rd in turnover margin with a +13 balance. The unit alone accounted for 42.5 of the defense’s 61 total regular season sacks.

In 2010, the 49ers defense posted an overall ranking of 13th. They were individually ranked 16th in points allowed, 6th in rushing yards allowed, and 24th in passing yards allowed. The Cardinals also have an unspecified candidate interview later this week and have also reportedly expressed interest in Pittsburgh Steelers linebackers coach Keith Butler -- who is unavailable for interview due to the Steelers obligation to the playoffs.

Only time will tell, but if Manusky joins the Cardinals coaching staff, it could be the first of many right decisions this offseason.