Outside linebackers coach James Bettcher has been promoted to defensive coordinator, according to Cardinals beat writer Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic.
Bettcher is replacing a stout defensive coordinator who left for a head coaching position with the New York Jets in Todd Bowles. The former position coach is now facing the challenge of keeping the Cardinals defense as one of the top units.
With Bowles, Arizona was known to be one of the best-coached units which made adjustments and played to the players strengths.
However, Arizona already has a lot of talent with stars such as defensive end Calais Campbell, cornerback Patrick Peterson, versatile safety/nickel corner Tyrann Mathieu and a bunch of very good individual players who excel in their roles, such as nose tackle Dan Williams , cornerback Antonio Cromartie and inside linebacker Larry Foote.
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Along with a solid veteran presence, Arizona has promising young players such as defensive end Ed Stinson, who will most likely replace Darnell Dockett in the future, outside linebacker Alex Okafor, strong safety Deone Bucannon, inside linebacker Kevin Minter and outside linebacker/defensive end Kareem Martin.
Not only does Arizona have a healthy balance of veteran and young players, but also inside linebacker Daryl Washington will return from a year-long suspension for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy again. Washington’s speed and athleticism will only help Arizona generate more pressure and contain those mobile quarterbacks.
With Bettcher, I love the move for the Cardinals to hire one of their own. That way, the new defensive coordinator already knows the defensive system and identity, and can already relate with the players already put in place.
Head Coach Bruce Arians summed up this thought according to Darren Urban of AZCardinals.com.
"“I did not want our players to walk in and not know what they were doing the first day,” Arians said. “No new language. It’s the same defense, the same philosophy.”"
Bettcher’s replacement as outside linebackers coach, Bob Sanders, has coached multiple positions throughout his career.
He was the Miami Dolphins linebackers coach from 2001-2004, the Green Bay Packers defensive ends coach in 2005 and also their defensive coordinator from 2006-2008. Sanders was a linebackers and defensive ends coach for the Buffalo Bills from 2009-2012, and was a linebackers coach for the Oakland Raiders last year, coaching up talented pass rushers such as Sio Moore and Khalil Mack.
Former Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau joining former Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt in Tennessee as the assistant head coach ended up not being the end of the world. Arizona had a very good plan to bring in a quality coach with a lot of experience such as Sanders to the staff, and to promote one of their own coaches to the defensive coordinator position.
In this way, the Cardinals have been one of the best-run franchises in football the past couple of years, and with a solid plan in place, the Cardinals should have no problems remaining one of the best defenses in the league.