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Shouldn’t the Cardinals add a veteran defensive advisor to the 2024 coaching staff?

Other new coaches are doing it, why not the Cardinals?

Syndication: Arizona Republic Joe Rondone/The Republic / USA TODAY NETWORK

Jonathan Gannon has made it clear that he would not have taken the Cardinals’ head coaching job in 2023 if he was going to be asked to run and call the defensive plays.

The same cannot be said of NFL Coach of the Year runner-up, DeMeco Ryans in Houston.

While Ryans was taking charge of the Texans’ defense, he hired former Cardinals’ assistant Matt Burke as his DC, right-hand man and defensive line coach. Matt Burke is now in his 21st NFL season and had previous NFL experience as a DC with the Dolphins in 2017 and 2028.

Jonathan Gannon decided to go an entirely different route at DC by hiring 30-year-old Nick Rallis, his LB coach from Philly. Rallis is a talented young coach but came to Arizona with only 3 years of NFL experience as a position coach with no experience coordinating an NFL defense or calling the plays.

The question is —- why didn’t JG elect to hire an experienced DC like Mike Zimmer or George Edwards whom he worked with in Minnesota?

Plus, after tabbing Nick Rallis as DC and the telling the media that he was planning to hire some veteran advisors to the young staff, why did that never happen?

Did JG try to hire some advisors, but got turned down by Zimmer and/or Edwards and/or others?

Did Michael Bidwill want to put a cap on staff salaries, particularly in light of having to pay Kliff Kingsbury the balance of the $30M remaining on his 5-year contract extension in 2022?

Interestingly, just yesterday the Cowboys and Jerry Jones hired Mike Zimmer to succeed Dan Quinn as the team’s DC.

At the same time, two of the new defensive-minded HCs, Antonio Pierce (LV) and Mike Macdonald (SEA) have hired Marvin Lewis (who lives in AZ) and Leslie Frazier, respectively, to be their defensive advisors.

2023 Defensive DVOA:

  • ARI (Rallis)—- 32nd
  • BAL (Macdonald) —- 1st
  • LV (Graham) —- 8th

Why Eagles’ Fans Were Frustrated with Jonathan Gannon’s Defense:

When I had an Eagles’ pundit Ed Kratz (of SI) on Red Rain and John Stolnis (SB Nation) had me on his, both of them said that the three biggest complaints that Eagles fans had about JG’s defense:

1. Lack of creativity

2. Lack of blitzes

3. Soft zones

I have to be honest and say those issues in AZ came up in spades this past season. I mean how does a defense go the last 6 games creating only 1 sack? And that was a -1 yard chasing out of bounds of Justin Fields by Dennis Gardeck.

Zones in the NFL won’t work without a pass rush. Or against QBs like Patrick Mahomes and Brock Purdy who float away from pressure long enough to get the ball to open receivers in the gray areas of the zone.

For those Cardinals’ fans who have been citing a lack of talent as the main reason why the team defense struggled so mightily this past season, and for those of us who felt the Cardinals’ defense was flawed because of questionable personnel decisions, unorthodox substitution patterns and vanilla schemes —- the questions are:


Should the Cardinals add a veteran defensive advisor to the 2024 coaching staff?

This poll is closed

  • 54%
    (124 votes)
  • 41%
    No, Nick Rallis will have more talent in 2024 and will make the necessary improvements
    (96 votes)
  • 3%
    (9 votes)
229 votes total Vote Now


Whom do you think is preventing the Cardinals the most from hiring a veteran defensive-minded advisor, if that is indeed the case?

This poll is closed

  • 29%
    (61 votes)
  • 12%
    (26 votes)
  • 43%
    Neither Bidwill nor JG feels the need to
    (90 votes)
  • 8%
    They will make a hire
    (18 votes)
  • 6%
    (14 votes)
209 votes total Vote Now

Deja Vu?

One of the more perplexing staff decisions that Bruce Arians made was replacing Todd Bowles as DC with James Bettcher who was in his late 20s and only had two years of NFL coaching experience as a position coach. Like Nick Rallis, Bettcher was a linebackers coach. Note, when Arians promoted Bettcher, Dick LeBeau and Jim Schwartz (named NFL assistant coach of the year in 2023 were available.

One of the more cogent explanations as to why Bruce Arians’ tenure in Arizona started to decline was “cronyism.” Not only with James Bettcher, but with oft-struggling STC Amos Jones.

As young and talented as Nick Rallis appears to be, with his relative lack of experience, can the Cardinals expect that he will be able match wits in the NFC West with Kyler Shanahan, Sean McVay and whomever the Seahawks hire (rumors are that Chip Kelly is interested and that they may be interested in offensive coaches in SF and KC)?

Between JG and Nick Rallis, the Cardinals have 3 years of NFL experience at DC. Does that concern you? And does it concern you that the coach with more experience and one year of NFL success doesn’t want to take full charge of the defense?


What if the Cardinals’ Defense Fails again in 2024?

This poll is closed

  • 32%
    Bidwill should give JG and Rallis another mulligan
    (60 votes)
  • 3%
    Bidwill should make another change at head coach
    (7 votes)
  • 35%
    Give the keys to Mike Vrable who has very close ties with Monti Ossenfort
    (66 votes)
  • 28%
    (53 votes)
186 votes total Vote Now