Last season’s Arizona Cardinals were an offensive juggernaut while this year’s version has a defense ranked first in the conference
Following the 2014 season, the phone started ringing for the Arizona Cardinals’ Todd Bowles. The defensive coordinator found success in the desert, and now NFL teams wanted him to be their head coach. When your club is playing well, the scavengers arrive, looking to pluck assistant coaches from the staff.
The Cards didn’t want Bowles to leave. But the New York Jets made him an offer he couldn’t refuse, and Arizona lost one of Bruce Arians’ brightest pupils. The search would now be on for his replacement.
Arians tried to persuade coaching legend Dick Lebeau to take the job. However the rumor was that his wife didn’t want to move out west to Arizona. The search continued.
The organization would up promoting from within. The choice was James Bettcher. The 37-year old, first-time coordinator exceeded expectations in 2015, designing a unit that ranked fifth in the NFL.
More from Raising Zona
- Would Jonathan Gannon be a good fit for the Arizona Cardinals?
- Arizona Cardinals: Budda Baker right in his take regarding the next coach
- Arizona Cardinals: 3 reasons new coach should want to work with Murray
- Arizona Cardinals special teams could be completely revamped in 2023
- Jonathan Gannon will interview with the Arizona Cardinals on Monday
After a shaky start to this season, Bettcher’s defense is ranked first in the NFC after eight games. An impressive number any way you look at it. A couple of new additions have had a dramatic effect on the group’s play.
General manager Steve Keim seems to have pulled off the best trade of the offseason. Outside linebacker Chandler Jones was brought in and has played lights out. He garners a lot of attention, which has had a positive effect on the defense.
Jones’ presence has without a doubt been beneficial for fellow outside linebacker Markus Golden. Golden leads the Cardinals with six sacks, and has caused havoc in opponents’ backfields on a consistent basis. The second-year pro has possibly been the Cards’ defensive MVP at the midway point.
Keim also solidified the cornerback position opposite Patrick Peterson by trading for Marcus Cooper. Cooper leads Arizona in interceptions, including one he returned for a touchdown. Keim deserves huge credit for finding a player like Cooper, an under the radar move that has paid big dividends.
The defense is doing its part for the Cardinals. Now, if only the offense and special teams can follow suit.