Nothing is worse for a defense than guys playing out of position. The trend for teams now days is to take a guy who has been playing a certain wall their adult life then all of a sudden throwing a check at them all the while letting them know their position is going to change. With a change of position comes a change in philosophy and technique and that can be a killer to a defense especially a relatively young defense.
Under Ken Whisenhunt the Cardinals went from a hybrid defense imploring 4-3 and 3-4 principles to a flat out 3-4 defense that shined under Ray Horton. Although the defense had success as a whole it could have actually been better. In a 3-4 scheme the outside linebackers are to generate pressure from that spot, the pressure Arizona generated last year more often than not came from the middle using a zero blitz in a fire zone scheme.
Enter Todd Bowles, new defensive coordinator for the Cardinals. He has had work in a 3-4 system but prefers to use a 4-3. There is no doubt that you will see a mix of both fronts this year for the Cardinals and it may make them a better defense than last year. With the addition of Karlos Dansby the Cardninals will have a linebacking core that is used to playing in both fronts.
OLB’s O Brien Schofield and Sam Acho may get the chance to [play a little defensive end in a 4-3 set up. That may not be such a bad thing since both are just a few years removed from college in which they played a 4-3 defensive end. If and when Washington returns will boost the linebacking core significantly, depending on how well the rookie thumper Kevin Minter catches on you may see Dansby and Washington manning outside spots in 4-3 looks.