When new Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians decided to part with defensive coordinator Ray Horton in January 2013, many feared he was making a mistake.
After all, Horton had helped transform Arizona’s defense into a pretty good unit, and the worry was the Cards would likely take a step or two back with someone else. Then, when Arians tabbed Todd Bowles, who most recently was part of the disaster in Philadelphia with the Eagles, those thoughts only grew.
Then the games started, and after a bit of a slow beginning, Bowles’ defense really took off. And after just two seasons in the desert, the coordinator did enough to become one of the hottest head coaching candidates in the league, ultimately taking the top job with the New York Jets on January 14.
But before we officially move on, here’s a look at Bowles’ Arizona tenure, By the Numbers:
In 2013, the Cardinals’ defense finished the season ranked first against the run, allowing just 84.4 yards per game on the ground. The team fell to 13th in 2014 while allowing 108.7 rushing yards per game, though many would attribute that to the loss of many key players.
Four times a player from Bowles’ defense was selected to the Pro Bowl, with Patrick Peterson earning two nods and John Abraham and Calais Campbell each getting one.
While Arizona’s defense took a step back in yards allowed per game in 2014 compared to 2013, the team actually improved at keeping teams off the scoreboard. The Cardinals allowed just 18.7 points per game this past season, which ranked fifth in the league.
Bowles’ defense ranked sixth in the NFL in yards allowed in 2013. They fell to 24th in 2014.
The Cardinals scored nine defensive touchdowns over the last two seasons, with seven coming on interceptions.
Including the postseason, Arizona held opponents off the scoreboard in the fourth quarter ten times. Arizona was outscored in quarters one, two and three, but outscored their opponents 102-64 in the final frame.
The Cardinals allowed an average of 19.5 points per game over Bowles’ tenure, a mark that ranks fifth in the NFL over that span.
If there was one issue with the defense over the last two seasons, it was defending opposing tight ends. Arizona was burned for a league-worst 24 touchdowns and 2,241 yards to that position over the last two seasons.
The Cardinals created 55 turnovers the last two seasons, with 30 of them coming in 2013.
Arizona tallied 82 quarterback sacks over Bowles’ two seasons. The 47 Arizona accumulated in 2013 was the third-most in team history.
The Cardinals allowed 299 points in 2014, which is the first time since 1994 the team surrendered fewer than 300 points in a season.