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Early reviews favorable for new Cardinals defensive coordinator

TEMPE, Ariz. -- New Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator James Bettcher has been working with his new defense for just a month, but the response has been favorable thus far.

At least from one rising star.

Third-year safety Tyrann Mathieu said working with Bettcher has been “going well.”

“He’s very intelligent,” Mathieu said. “I think the biggest thing is that he communicates with us a lot. He asks for our input a lot on different situations, coverages and everything’s been going smooth so far.”

The smoother the transition from Todd Bowles to Bettcher, the better for Arizona’s defense. For the past two years, Bowles was the conductor of one of the best blitzing defenses in the league. His ingenuity kept offenses off balance and his bravado to call a cover zero blitz scheme (no DB back deep leaving coverage mostly man-to-man) late in games helped earn him a reputation for one of the best defensive minds in the NFL. It also helped land him the New York Jets’ head-coaching job.

Arizona blitzed on 46.5 percent of quarterback dropbacks during the last two years, the most in the NFL during that span.

Whether the Cardinals will be as aggressive under Bettcher is still yet to be seen.

Mathieu said the scheme being installed by Bettcher during offseason workouts has been bland thus far.

“I don’t think it’s changed that much,” Mathieu said. “Obviously, we’re not game planning right now. Everything is vanilla. But I know it will change once the season comes.

“Obviously, Coach Bettcher will have his own way of doing things but for right now it’s pretty vanilla.”