This unit had its share of elite talents like Daryl Washington, Patrick Peterson and Calais Campbell, but also had some major holes at the other cornerback spots and a complete lack of capable edge rushers. Still, they remained a good unit last season under Horton, finishing third in takeaways and taking on the ethos of another tough NFC West defense.
Now Todd Bowles takes the reins as the Cards’ defensive coordinator after spending recent years as secondary coach with the Miami Dolphins and Philadelphia Eagles. These defenses regularly ranked in the top 10 in pass defense, but also often played from behind, which is typically a nice limiter for how many pass yards a team gives up.
When he ascended to Eagles’ DC late last year, the results were miserable, but we can chalk that up to an imminent train wreck.
There is much mystery as to how much 4-3 and 3-4 Bowles will employ, and how much of hybrid approach this becomes. One key area of emphasis in training camp will be getting Campbell into 1-on-1 situations at defensive end.
“He’s already a Pro Bowl-caliber player but he has to do the right thing within the scheme that makes everyone else better also,” Bowles said, via the Cardinals’ official website. “I think he’s been doing that thus far. Calais is an outstanding talent. He can play inside and outside. He’s a grown man and a force to be reckoned with. We just have to continue to work on the fundamental parts of his game that allows him to do that.”
Campbell’s finished top-3 in Pro Football Focus’ 3-4 DE rankings over the past two years, so Bowles’ handling of Campbell could end up being just as crucial as his forte in the defensive backfield, where the immensely talented Peterson resides.