Once again, we are joined by Tyler Nickel from SB Nation's Revenge of the Birds to talk about the Cardinals' coaching staff. Enjoy and tell a friend.
1) What are the pros/cons for Ray Horton?
This is the guy that Cardinals fans really want to stay. He has transformed the team's defense into one of the best in the league. He coaches, unlike Whisenhunt, with emotion and personality. He is an easy going guy, but he will light you up if you don't follow his directions. And if you do not listen to what he says, then the plan will not work. That is why the team went such a terror towards the end of the 2011-12 season. They finally bought into his defensive scheme.
As for cons, I would wonder if he is ready for a head coaching position. I would lean towards yes and would be content with him being the Cardinals' head coach, but one has to wonder. Just a couple of seasons ago, he was a defensive backs coach for the Steelers. Is he ready to be a head coach? Time will tell.
2) I know he's a 3-4 guy and the Bills are much better suited for a 4-3. Do you think he can coach a 4-3 defense?
That I really do not know. He has always been a 3-4 guy with the Steelers and now the Cardinals. He has been brought up in the Dick LeBeau, 3-4 scheme. Whether or not he can make the transition is anyone's guess. I would say that if they hire Horton, he will try to change the scheme instead of having the scheme try to change him. Mario Williams might be headed back to the OLB position.
3) What is his personality like?
Cool, calm and collected most of the time, but he can be emotional at times. If you sit at practice, the one guy you hear most shouting above all others is Horton.
4) Do you want Horton to stay in Arizona? Why?
Yes, I really do. He is a great defensive coordinator and the players have a firm grasp on the scheme he has installed. And he has proven that it works.
5) What made the cardinals defense work these past years? LBs, DEs or secondary?
I would say it was a combination of all of those personnel groups that made the defense what it has become. He transformed a 29th ranked unit in 2010 into a 12th ranked defense in 2012. But it didn't start out as a powerhouse right away. He had to get all of the players to buy into his scheme, which is always described as being rather complex. For star defensive ends like Darnell Dockett and Calais Campbell, they were asked to consume blockers and create gaps for the pass rushing linebackers as opposed to rushing the passer themselves.
Horton always uses the phrase "everybody eats" to describe his defense. What he means is that if you do your job, you are going to get your stats and your big fat contract. No one is going to be left aside. Once new players buy into what he is selling, they tend to see an uptick in production.
6) How is he with the development of younger players?
Horton is great with young players. Look at cornerback Patrick Peterson for example. Horton was a former defensive back and defensive backs coach himself, so he has done wonders with Peterson, making him into one of the best corners in the league. I am confident that if the Bills hire him, he would do the same with guy like Gilmore, who you guys drafted pretty high.
I heard Horton on a radio interview recently and when asked about what Peterson could do better as a cover corner, Horton remained silent. I thought maybe his microphone wasn't working, but he stayed silent for a reason. He said that there really isn't anything he can do better. The kid listens, he is athletic and he is always hungry to be better. What Horton realizes is that he does not need to push him to make him better. He will progress on his own. But if a player does need that push, like nose tackle Dan Williams did, he will give it to him. He just knows which buttons to press and when. I think he is great with all of the young players.
1) What are the pros/con for Grimm?
I am not a Russ Grimm and frankly, I am glad he is gone. Many will argue that the team never spent high draft picks to give him adequate talent to work with, which is fair. The Cards only drafted Levi Brown in the first round... besides that, all the offensive linemen have been late round picks or free agent pickups. Still, we know he had a hand in bringing in guys like Adam Snyder from the 49ers, which was an awful signing from the get-go. Grimm has never really shown that he can develop talent.
2) Your offensive line always seemed to be a huge issue in Arizona, why was that?
Again, it boils down to both Grimm and the team not wanting to spend high picks on quality linemen. That is probably because they got burned the last time they did that, but they really need to get over that.
3) Do you think Grimm would make a decent head coach?
Yes, I guess so. He was the assistant head coach here in Arizona, as well as the offensive line coach. He has the respect of the players, especially since he is a Hall of Fame player himself. That will get him a job, regardless of where it is.