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Copious Thoughts from the Dark Corners of Cards Camp: Ray Horton

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.