Daryl Washington praises chemistry for Cardinals' start
But without a legitimate shot at a postseason berth and a dominating defense in the 49ers playing in their division, allowing a mere 18.3 points per game en route to a 7-2 record down the stretch went largely unnoticed outside of their own locker room.
A 3-0 start to the 2012 season and convincing defensive performances against the likes of Tom Brady and Michael Vick, however, has suddenly garnered some much-deserved attention from the national media.
Case in point, linebacker Daryl Washington making an appearance Tuesday on NBCSports.com's ProFootballTalk with Mike Florio.
Washington, who had two sacks and six tackles in Arizona's 27-6 victory against the Eagles in Week 3, said the biggest difference from last year to this year, has nothing to do with on-field schemes or player personnel.
"It's about chemistry," Washington told Florio on ProFootballTalk. "Our chemistry off the field has definitely helped us to become more successful on the field. Guys are continuing to work with each other and bond with each other. Building those relationships has been a big part of the success this year."
For many of the defensive players, defensive coordinator Ray Horton has not just acted as their coach, but as a father figure as well.
"I hope [Horton] is around here for a long time," said Washington. "He is a good person and a good coach. We respect him, believe in him and believe that his scheme will work. And we are proving that every day."
Washington revealed that this season on the night before games, Horton has instituted an open-air conversation during the unit's final meeting. Players are encouraged to talk about football, their families or anything else going on in their lives.
"We get a closer insight as to the things going on with one another," said Washington of the personal discussions. "It's one of those big things that keeps us together and keeps us going."
It's an approach that has certainly paid off for the Cardinals' free-flowing defense. The unit is currently second in the NFL with 13.3 points allowed per game.
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