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2011 DC: Ray Horton
2011 Base Scheme: 3-4
The Cardinals made a switch at Defensive Coordinator for 2011 and after Ranking 29th in yards allowed and 30th in points a change is understandable. Horton has 17 years of coaching experience in the NFL, with the majority of that experience coming under defensive guru and Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau. Whether having worked under LeBeau will help Horton be a successful defensive coordinator remains to be seen. After all, Horton was the Steelers secondary coach and many would agree that the Steelers secondary was their Achilles Heel and what many feel cost them in the Super Bowl against the Green Bay Packers. The addition of Richard Marshall should help the Cardinals defense as he is one of the better run support CBs in the league and he has the ability to defend the pass and make plays too. What alarms me most about the Cardinals secondary is that there is now news that says that safety Adrian Wilson will attempt to play the season with a torn bicep. Wilson was once a top-notch IDP safety and while he hasn’t put up those types of numbers the past couple of years there is no denying his talent and what he means to the Cardinals defense. That is if he is healthy. Then in the secondary is also 1st round draft pick Patrick Peterson, Peterson should be electric in the return game but expecting the rookie to take the Cardinals defense to the next level in year one would not be prudent. Newly signed LB Stewart Bradley looks as if he will battle with veteran Paris Lenon to see who will man the SILB position. Second year LB Daryl Washington is expected to be the fulltime starter at the more productive WILB spot. From a fantasy perspective, I would not expect to see the Cardinals make any great strides this year but they do seem to have some pieces in place to grow into a very nice defense. In IDP leagues, Daryl Washington, Calais Campbell & Darnell Dockett look to be the best bets. In deeper leagues or ones that separate CB and S you can look to Marshall to have a nice season and at safety Kerry Rhodes should be solid yet unspectacular. As for Adrian Wilson, proceed with caution due to his injury.
2011 DC: Chuck Pagano
2011 Base Scheme: 4-3
Chuck Pagano takes over as defensive coordinator for Greg Mattison, who left to be the defensive coordinator for the University of Michigan. Mattison’s defense was respectable last year, ranking 10th in yards allowed and 3rd in points allowed (270). Unfortunately, the Ravens gave up 119 of those points in the 4th quarter. The only other time in team history that they gave up more points in the 4th quarter was in 1996 when they gave up 130. Giving up 44% of the total points they allowed all season in the 4th quarter it is no surprise that the Ravens gave up the lead in 9 games in the final period in 2010. With all that said it is easy to see what Pagano needs to fix and that is for the defense to finish and get off the field in the fourth quarter. The thing that may give some pause about Pagano fixing the secondary is that he was the Secondary coach for the Ravens last year. However, last year future Hall Of Famer Ed Reed started the season on the PuP and did not play until week 7. With Reed on the PuP to start the season and questions at cornerback prior to last year starting, it was expected that the Ravens secondary would be their weakness and that ended up being true. The Ravens addressed their secondary in the draft with the selection of CB Jimmy Smith with the 27th pick of the 1st round. Smith has some character concerns but with the veteran leadership on the Ravens, I do not think we will see any issues with Smith. Look for the Ravens defense to be more of what they were as a complete defense then they were as a bend and break 4th quarter defense that they were last year. On the IDP side of things, look for LB Ray Lewis still be as productive as ever and for Terrell Suggs to maintain his status as a top tier DL. In deeper leagues, keep an eye on Sergio Kindle, last year’s 2nd round pick, as he is slated to see the field this pre-season. Ed Reed has the big name and is a game changer for the Ravens but is far too inconsistent on the tackle front to be a starter in IDP leagues. Bernard Pollard, formally of the Texans signed with the Ravens and if used as an in the box safety would be a starter in most leagues but until we see how he is used in pre-season games proceed with caution.
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