Scouts Inc. founder Gary Horton has passed along observations for NFC West teams.
I'll share them on a team-by-team basis and offer a few thoughts to get the conversation going.
Horton's notes: Ken Whisenhunt has a strong 34 background, but when he tried to run it in 2010, it was clear that he did not have the right personnel to be successful. There were rumors that communication between coaches and players was a problem and as a result there is a new coordinator, Ray Horton. Horton will probably be forced to continue with some 43 wrinkles because of the lethargic edge pass rush out of the 34. A year ago they couldn’t stop the run and they gave up too many points and that is a disaster when they don’t have an offense that has any explosiveness to compensate for it. Those 34 looks will be the base defense and we will see those 43 wrinkles in mostly nickel situations.
There are huge questions at WR after Larry Fitzgerald, which may really hinder their sub-packages, but they are better at TE than they have been in recent memory. Because they played from behind so often a year ago, this run game never really got going. This QB group was the worst in the NFL a year ago vs. the blitz, but Kevin Kolb’s numbers are much better vs. pressure. Also, no receiver in the league was overthrown or underthrown more than Fitzgerald. Kolb will also improve that.
My thoughts: The Cardinals have strong personalities on defense. It's important for any defensive coordinator to win over those personalities and make them work for him. That will go a long way toward fixing whatever communication issues might have been at work. Horton would seem to have the right pedigree to do that given his background as a player and as a longtime understudy to Dick LeBeau. But Horton's initial point about the Cardinals not having the right personnel remains valid until proven otherwise. On offense, the Cardinals aren't as concerned about their receiving situation after Fitzgerald. Whisenhunt has a point when he says it's impossible to develop young talent without letting that talent play. This is a big year for Andre Roberts and Early Doucet in particular.