Some people say that defense wins championships. While that is debatable, there’s no doubt that defense has helped the Arizona Cardinals win and stay competitive in several games . The Cardinals defense was a major factor in the turnaround of the 2011 season. After a 1-6 start, the Cardinals closed out the season at 8-8.
In 2012, the Cardinals defense was the counterpart to an anemic offense. In one game against the Atlanta Falcons, the Cards picked off QB Matt Ryan five times, but the inability of the offense to capitalize led to a defeat.
The Cardinals certainly had a lot of talent on the defensive squad. Playmakers like Patrick Peterson, Daryl Washington, and Darnell Dockett certainly help a team”s defensive performance. However, some, if not much, of the credit goes to defensive coordinator Ray Horton.
After two years of showcasing his ability as a coach, Horton was a strong contender to fill the vacancy at head coach. After the Cardinals chose Bruce Arians for the position, Horton got into an argument with GN Steve Keim. He was eventually let go and went to be the defensive coordinator for the Browns.
Should the Cardinals have held on to Horton?
This is a tough question to answer. Ray Horton was a very important piece for the Cardinals. The defensive players were loyal to him, and he made them perform at a high level. The other concern is that his replacement at defensive coordinator, Todd Bowles, previously was the coordinator for an Eagles defense that surrendered 31.9 points per game under his coaching. The Cardinals do have more defensive talent for Bowles to work with, but it is hard to allocate the blame or determine how well he will do with the Cardinals
On the flip side of that coin, parting ways with Ray Horton may ultimately prove to be the smarter move. In his first talks with the press as head coach, Bruce Arians stated that he did want a division in the locker room. His concern was that there would be a split of loyalty if Horton stayed. This is a legitimate worry, and had those fears come true, the Cardinal’s season could have been a disaster. Letting go of all of the old elements is hard, but it is part of the rebuilding process. On top of that, it can be said that Horton did not handle the situation very well. His frustration is understandable, but his very harsh reaction was unprofessional. It would have been a bad move to keep that sort of awkward bond going in a professional situation.
Overall, the Cardinals made the right decision in not keeping Horton as the defensive coordinator. It can be said he was the superior option to be the head coach, but in the scenario where Bruce Arians takes that job, keeping Ray Horton was too risky of a move. It may not have been the popular of decisions, and it may turn out to be a poor one, but ultimately the Cardinals made the right move in parting ways with Ray Horton.