It’ll be hard for anyone to follow Ray Horton and the job he did with the Cardinals’ defense in the two years he was with the team, but someone has to fill the position, and Todd Bowles is the next man up.
Bowles and head coach Bruce Arians have history dating back to their days at Temple in the mid-1980’s, when Arians was the head coach and Bowles was a team captain.
“That meant the world to me,” Bowles said when talking about being given the opportunity by Arians. “Coach has been around me and been an influence on my life for a long time, personally and professionally, and for him to want me here and help him get to a Super Bowl and win one, it means everything to me.”
Bowles comes to the Cardinals with 13 years of NFL experience. Last season, Bowles started with the Eagles as their secondary coach, before being named defensive coordinator after Juan Castillo was fired.
Arians called Bowles “one of the brightest defensive minds” he’s ever worked with. Arians also said he had no doubt as soon as he got a head coaching job, Bowles would be one of the first members of his staff.
“I don’t think there’s any doubt he’ll be a head coach soon in this league,” Arians said.
In the meantime, Bowles has work to do here for the Cardinals.
Fortunately for Bowles, the defense is about as ready made as you’ll find in the NFL.
“They’re fast, they get after it, they like to play football and they’re hungry,” Bowles said. “They play very fast and they’re tenacious [and] that’s a great thing.”
As far as the defensive formation goes, Bowles says the group will maintain it’s 3-4 formation.
Bowles says the team will look to add “a few new pieces” to the defense and “get after it.”
The Cardinals have a number of dynamic players on defense, including linebacker Daryl Washington and cornerback Patrick Peterson.
Since he just got to the Valley, Bowles says he hasn’t gotten a chance to watch Washington much on tape, but what he’s seen so far has thoroughly impressed him.
“He’s got a great upside,” Bowles said. “He’s fast, he’s tenacious, he can blitz, he can cover, he’s young so his career is just starting to take off.”
On Peterson, Bowles has seen his success at LSU and what he’s done so far in Arizona, and he expects to see more of the same as long as he’s the defensive coordinator.
Obviously it’s not easy taking over someone else’s job after they are let go, but it’s what Bowles had to do in Philadelphia last season.
Bowles says he learned a lot about himself after the switch was made.
“You just have to stick to your morals,” Bowles said. “I don’t think one year makes you a bad coach or a good coach, you go by your body of work.”
Bowles wouldn’t say if he thought his players gave up on him or not in Philadelphia, but he did say some of them didn’t play as well as they should’ve.
You wouldn’t think Bowles would inherit that kind of drama with the Cardinals, because the defense seems to be set with guys that have no problem busting their tails to win.
Bowles still has new faces and personalities to get acclimated to. He says he has to get inside of each and every player to figure them out.
“To learn a player, you gotta find out what makes them tick, what motivates them, what he’s playing for,” Bowles said. “What kind of coaching can he take, what kind of teaching can he take and what he responds to and doesn’t respond to.”
“It’s not about how much we know, it’s how much he can learn.”