Cardinals finally figuring out their own defense

Nov 18, 2011, 7:43 PM | Updated: 10:54 pm

The defense hasn’t been completely dismal in defensive
coordinator Ray Horton’s first season, but small mistakes
here and there helped add up to six consecutive losses.

That, however, seems to be changing, with the Cardinals
rolling off two straight wins, both of which the defense
played a key role.

Against the Rams, the Cardinals forced St. Louis to go
three and out in their first possession of overtime, which
paved the way for Patrick Peterson’s awesome 99 yard punt
return. The D followed that performance up by shutting
down Michael Vick and the Eagles, helping the team win its
first road game more than a year.

With the past two performances, Horton believes his system
is finally sinking in.

“I hear how they talk now and before they wouldn’t say
anything about what they were looking at,” Horton said.
“The other team, they were so worried about what they were
doing, I think now they understand what they’re doing and
so they can digest the information we give them about sets
and fronts and motions and looks and they start talking
about the 49ers offense and that’s how I know they’re
getting it.”

Even though the defense is finally progressing, Horton
says that his unit is far from mistake free.

“The results were probably an A, but getting there was
probably a C,” Horton said about grading Sunday’s
performance against the Eagles. “We left a lot of plays
out there missed tackles, dropped interceptions, called
back interceptions — penalties, so work in progress.”

Currently the Cardinals rank 22nd in total defense, so
there is room for improvement, but the area of
concentration for Horton is the pass defense. The team
still gives up an average of 255 yards per game through
the air.

“What we try to stress is give them the short stuff and
don’t give them the big stuff and we’ll win games,” Horton
said. “This league is, unlike the great game of female
soccer, every once in a while they’re going to score some
points and make some plays.”

The defense will learn just how much it has improved, as
the team travels to Candlestick to take on the 8-1 San
Fransisco 49ers Sunday. Horton knows his defense will be
tested against a rejuvenated Alex Smith and 49ers offense.

“He [Smith] probably understands the game a little bit
better,” Horton said. “It looks like the game has slowed
down for him and he’s making good decisions. He’s probably
the same quarterback he always was and maybe they’re just
better around him.”

Comments

Comment guidelines: No name-calling, personal attacks, profanity, or insults. Please keep the conversation civil and help us moderate comments by reporting abuse.
comments powered by Disqus

Arizona Cardinals

Monti Ossenfort,  new general manager of the Arizona Cardinals NFL football team, answers a questio...
Tyler Drake

Cardinals, NFL get some added wiggle room with bumped up salary cap

For a second consecutive season, the NFL has raised the salary cap for the Arizona Cardinals and the rest of the league.
1 day ago
(Jeremy Schnell/Arizona Sports)...
Dan Bickley

Tom Brady set an impossible standard for all QBs to come

Tom Brady’s closing act was stupendous, right down to the heartfelt message he posted on social media on Wednesday.
1 day ago
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) smiles during warmups before an NFL football game, ...
Associated Press

This time it’s ‘for good’: Tom Brady announces his retirement from NFL

Tom Brady, who won a record seven Super Bowls for New England and Tampa, has announced his retirement.
1 day ago
FILE - Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce, left, talks to his brother, Philadelphia Eagles c...
Associated Press

Brother vs. brother: Kelces prepare for Super Bowl with mom donning split jersey

Donna Kelce is going to have to pull out that now-familiar custom jersey — the one with Chiefs' Travis Kelce's front stitched to Eagles' Jason Kelce's back — one more time this season.
2 days ago
Arizona Cardinals NFL football team owner Michael Bidwill, left, and Monti Ossenfort, right, hold a...
Tyler Drake

Coaching options still aplenty for Cardinals after Payton, Ryans hires

The head-coaching dominoes have begun to fall, with Sean Payton and DeMeco Ryans accepting jobs with the Broncos and Texans, respectively.
2 days ago
San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans before an NFL football game against the Ariz...
Associated Press

Houston Texans hire DeMeco Ryans as head coach

San Francisco 49ers DC DeMeco Ryans has been hired as head coach of the Houston Texans, the team announced Tuesday.
2 days ago
Cardinals finally figuring out their own defense