New Arizona Cardinals head coach Steve Wilks should’ve allowed James Bettcher to remain the club’s defensive coordinator
When asked which kind of defense he planned to use with the Arizona Cardinals, new head coach Steve Wilks had the right response. “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it”, the new boss of the squad answered. Sounds great, but apparently Wilks is strapping his tool belt on after all.
Arizona’s defensive coordinator of the past three campaigns, James Bettcher, is gone. The up-and-coming assistant was hired by Pat Shurmur to run the New York Giants’ unit. The 39-year old was the architect of Cards’ defenses that ranked fifth-overall in the NFL in 2015, second in ’16 and sixth last season.
Part of the reason for Wilks not retaining Bettcher could be due to the fact that the two employ different alignments. Wilks prefers the 4-3 set-up that he used with the Carolina Panthers, while Bettcher implemented a 3-4.
It comes as no surprise that Wilks wants to surround himself with coaches he’s familiar with. The league is, and will always be, an “old boys network”. Coaching hires prefer to give jobs to friends, as opposed to others who may be more qualified.
That certainly appears to be what’s going on with Wilks. He’s expected to bring Al Holcomb to Arizona to coordinate his defense. The Panthers’ linebackers coach has never been a coordinator at the NFL level, so there’s questions as to whether he’s even capable to do so.
Actually, Wilks himself has only one year of experience as a coordinator in the league. That’s two years LESS than Bettcher, the coordinator who was jettisoned. Obviously, there are plenty of other factors that go into the selection of a head coach, but the facts are the facts.
It was reported that Shurmur was number-one on the Cardinals’ list of coaching candidates, but chose the “G-men” instead. If the former Minnesota Vikings’ offensive coordinator had taken the Arizona gig, Bettcher would’ve stayed put. Instead, the pair will do their coaching together in the “Big Apple”, while the Cards go forward with the Wilks-Holcomb combination.
Perhaps one day Cardinals’ fans will be happy that Holcomb replaced Bettcher. For now, it seems like a risky proposition. Wilks has made his choice, and all we can do now is hope that it was the correct one.