The Cardinals announced James Bettcher is going to be the next defensive coordinator of their football team. I will admit that it comes as a surprise to me because of the general lack of experience he has in the league. Bettcher has coached three years in the NFL, one with the Indianapolis Colts and two with the Cardinals. He’s 36 years old.
My reservations have been allayed somewhat the more research I do on Bettcher.
Bruce Arians doesn’t make many mistakes. He has proven his ability to make sound judgments again and again. The Cardinals wanted BA to hire Ray Horton as his defensive coordinator. After all, Horton had produced a formidable defense in the desert and was a fan favorite. BA told them Todd Bowles was his defensive coordinator and, despite some push back, stuck to his guns — even though it may have cost him the job. Most would say — emphatically — the Todd Bowles hire was the right hire.
I believe Bettcher was always the choice for BA from the beginning — even if Dick LeBeau agreed to come to Arizona. The model already exists on the offensive side of the ball — with Harold Goodwin as OC and Bruce Arians as play-caller — and that model was going to be repeated.
Bettcher is well regarded in the Cardinals locker room; he has absorbed Todd Bowles’ creativity and Chuck Pagano’s knowledge and is very bright. But Bettcher has got to command the room and that means asserting more authority than he has in the past. Asserting more authority in an NFL locker room can be a dicey proposition, especially when said authority is projected over grizzled veterans and experienced ball coaches. Hyper-aggressive, alpha males are sensitive to any shift in the pecking order of the locker room. He will have to prove himself over time.
The “proof is in the pudding,” so to speak and nobody knows that better than Bettcher. Players can like and respect an assistant coach all they want but when push comes to shove this league is about production. And that production will only come when Sunday’s Silks go on. Until then, this will either be another brilliant move by BA or the first indicator he’s human.
Right now, I’m all in on Bettcher because Bruce is all in on Bettcher and that’s good enough for me.