Ray Horton is a thinker, a guy that doesn't like the confines of conventionality. When others say you can't play that scheme, the Cardinals defensive-coordinator says, "Why not?" When they respond, "Because...nobody does that," Horton smiles.
Being different and trying new things on the defensive side of the ball in the National Football League is nothing new. Coordinators have been pushing the envelope and expanding the proverbial box for decades, and so shall it always be. Buddy Ryan gave life to an old defense and called it the 46-Defense after legendary headhunter Doug Plank; Monte Kiffin had the unmitigated temerity to run a middle-linebacker down the middle of the field while playing two-safeties high and called it Tampa-2; Dick LeBeau and Dom Capers became the scurge of the NFL by implementing the elements of the fire-zone blitz and the Ryan brothers, Rex and Rob, are infamous for not covering some eligible receivers because they rarely are targeted by opposing quarterbacks.
As football changes and offenses morph, it opens windows for men like Ray Horton to create schemes and employ them when others might cringe. Last year, Horton used Daryl Washington in unusual ways, and that trend will continue in 2012. In one game, Horton had D-Wash drop into the middle of the field as a safety playing a three-deep zone. This is something that does not happen, linebackers playing the deep middle-third, yet that very same defense found its way into last year's Super Bowl. The Giants deployed the same scheme and used it effectively against New England.
The Cardinals have something special on the defensive side of the ball: Ray Horton. His willingness to step into uncharted waters and go where no man has gone before became the impetus to posting impressive numbers last season. The Cardinals had the best third-down defense in the league No. 2 in the league. They schemed pressure and finished 7th in sacks with 42 on the season, all without having a true edge-rusher.
Despite all of this, the Cards need to create more turnovers. They were tied for 27th in takeaways and only had 19 on the season. This is the one area Ray Horton would love to see his unit improve. It's the one area they must improve if they wish to become one of the better defenses in the league. The best defenses take the ball from their opponents, giving their team an excellent chance of winning games.
Lets hope Ray Horton's mind can scheme takeaways.