One question entering this coming season for the Arizona Cardinals is how the transition will be from Todd Bowels to James Bettcher at defensive coordinator. Bowles is now the head coach of the New York Jets and Bettcher, who has never called a game as a coach, takes over the defense, which has been the identity of the Cardinals team the past couple of seasons.
Veteran safety Rashad Johnson, who has been with the team since 2009, is excited about seeing what his new defensive coordinator brings. He spoke with NBC 1060's Ed Cole recently.
The Cardinals have added some new faces in Sean Weatherspoon, LaMarr Woodley, Corey Peters and Cory Redding. Johnson believes "it's going to be a lot of fun on defense to see how well we can play with the new faces and plug in with the new coordinator and everything."
But Johnson isn't all that worried.
"I think he's gonna jump right in," Johnson said of the transition to Bettcher. "Coach Bettch is a very smart man. We all have a relationship with him, because he presents, every Wednesday, with personnel, tendencies of another team and he does the breakdown every week, so everybody gets an opportunity to actually see him work. Even though we're not in his room, everybody as a defensive unit gets a chance to see what he does, see the time he puts in, to give us the stuff that he gives us on Wednesdays."
The players know him. He knows the players, as he enters his third season on the coaching staff. He didn't play in the NFL and has only been a coach in the league a very short time.
Johnson believes Bettcher will get the veteran guys behind him soon enough.
"I guess the biggest thing that would have to happen is now he's going to have to be more interactive with the guys, which I don't think is going to be an issue," Johnson said. "There's sometimes when you have a new guy and sometimes it takes guys a little longer to believe in what he's saying as a coach. The quicker that we get the veteran guys like myself, Patrick [Peterson], Calais [Campbell], you know the guys that have been around to jump on board, everybody else is going to follow us."
Bettcher has the belief of head coach Bruce Arians, who has tremendous respect from his players. If Bettcher can give the defense some success, the transition should be smooth.
And Johnson also believes this -- it is the players that will impact their own success rather than their coordinator.
"At the end of the day, it's going to come down to the guys playing ball," he said. "The defensive coordinator calls the plays. At the end of the day, it comes down to the guys on the field and the leadership we have on the field to make sure that we're handling the business."
With the Cardinals publicly stating they have Super Bowl aspirations, the defense will have to play a big part. Are the players and Bettcher up to the challenge?