Any time a team replaces its coaching staff, change can be expected.
Otherwise, what is the point of making the move in the first place?
But how different will the Arizona Cardinals be with Bruce Arians and his staff now running the show in place of Ken Whisenhunt and Co.?
According to Gary Horton, in an ESPN Insider piece, the offense will be creative and aggressive in the passing game.
This is not going to be a dink-and-dunk West Coast offense, as Arians is a coach who loves the deep ball. We will see a lot of deep crossing and seam routes, as the Cardinals look for those “chunk” plays.
Horton notes this will require the offensive line to hold up better, which after how things went last season, seems like a pretty tall order. However, if given time to throw, he believes QB Carson Palmer will utilize the tight end more and Larry Fitzgerald more effectively.
Sight adjustment will be a part of this passing game — if the players can handle it — and this will be a very smart and aggressive offense. One other wrinkle to keep an eye on is CB Patrick Peterson lining up in some Wildcat/read-option packages to give defenses something else to prepare for.
But alas, few have any qualms with the Cardinals re-working their offense. After ranking last in the NFL in total yards as well as second-to-last in points scored, change of any kind is likely to bring better results.
However, the team’s defense was pretty strong, finishing the season 12th in yards allowed, fourth in takeaways and 11th in sacks.
So what should we expect from new defensive coordinator Todd Bowles?
It will remain as a 3-4 scheme, but Bowles will add some wrinkles of his own. Under Horton the guys up front played a lot of two-gap, read-and-react schemes where they occupied blockers to let the back seven make most of the plays. Bowles will utilize a lot more one-gap, penetrating looks up front and he needs the defensive line to be disruptive.
That premise is part of the reason defensive lineman Darnell Dockett has expressed happiness over the new scheme, and it could allow the team’s defensive front to be even more disruptive. It may have to be because, as Horton notes, Arizona does not boast a bevvy of sack artists at the linebacker spots.
In this 3-4 scheme, you expect your sack production from the OLBs and not the ILBs, D-line and safeties — which was where the Cards got their sacks a year ago. They need a double-digit sack guy to emerge.
In all, Horton believes an improved Arizona offense would go a long way toward helping the defense take a step forward.