Was Hiring Todd Bowles as Defensive Coordinator the Right Decision?
As newly appointed head coach Bruce Arians continues to fill out his staff, I've spent a good amount of time the past couple of days monitoring all the moves. I'm a big fan of Harold Goodwin as offensive coordinator and Tom Moore as assistant head coach.
Goodwin did some really nice things along the offensive line last season in Indianapolis with a quote, unquote "makeshift" offensive line. Not to mention it will give him the opportunity to prepare and learn the ropes of the position without actually having to call the plays.
Arians decided he would be calling the plays as head coach.
The Moore hiring is intriguing because he is currently 74 years old and has spent 34 years of his life as an assistant in the NFL. Twelve of those 34 years were spent as the offensive coordinator for Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts.
Obviously Moore is very talented and has a ton of experience, which in turn will not only help the Cardinals on game day, but also in preparation during the week. Those two hires alone should help put fans at ease on the offensive side of the ball.
But what about the defensive side of the ball? Plenty of fans are anxious now that Ray Horton is out the door and on his way to Cleveland. Instead of keeping Horton, Arians went after former Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator Todd Bowles:
Cardinals have agreed to terms with Todd Bowles as their defensive coordinator, as expected.— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) January 20, 2013
We may never know what transpired between the Cardinals organization and Horton after Horton found out he was not hired as head coach. For all we know, Arians wanted to keep Horton, but he was so upset about not being named the head coach that he forced his way out of his contract.
Regardless of the exact scenario, Bowles is now in charge of a defense that finished as the 12th-best unit in the league. The overall finish of the unit says there is plenty of talent to work with, but how will Bowles utilize the pieces he has been given?
As the defensive coordinator for the Philadelphia Eagles last season, Bowles utilized the Eagles 4-3 defensive scheme. However, he has been a part of a 3-4 scheme during his tenure with the Dallas Cowboys and the Miami Dolphins.
In both Miami and Dallas, he served as the secondaries coach. So, it is safe to assume he knows the concepts of both defenses very well despite the fact he was only the defensive coordinator in a 4-3 system.
According to the Associated Press, Bowles will bring in a completely different system than Horton's. No word on whether or not it will be a 3-4 or 4-3. The only thing we do know is that he will have a hard time outproducing his predecessor.
In terms of total yardage, the Eagles defense wasn't much worse than Cardinals defense. They finished 15th overall, yet it's important to zero in on some key areas. His unit was 23rd against the run, they took the ball away a measly 13 times and sacked the quarterback 33 times.
Compare those 33 sacks to the 52 sacks they had in 2011 and it's easy to see why they continuously gave up big plays. Not to mention Philadelphia's defense as a whole missed 111 tackles, which was more than they missed in 2011.
Seemingly, bad translated to worse and the Eagles went on to win a minuscule four games.
All of this leads me to believe that Bowles is not the right man for the job and the Cardinals defense won't ever finish higher than a Horton-led defense did on his watch. For the sake of Arizona Cardinals fans everywhere, I hope he proves me wrong.
I know the Arians-Bowles connection goes all the way to 1985, but it's hard for me to believe in a guy based on his connection with the head coach. It's also worth mentioning that as a 12-year positional coach in the NFL, he hasn't been a part of any team that has won a playoff game.
Come September, we will know if he has what it takes to dial up an effective defense in the NFL. Until then, we wait and see what types of pieces he adds or subtracts from one of the most talented defenses in the NFL.
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