Tuesday, February 15, 2011
Cardinals' Horton: In players we trust
By Mike Sando
The Pittsburgh Steelers allowed an NFL-low one run covering at least 20 yards last season. The Arizona Cardinals allowed 19, more than every team but Denver (23).
Former Steelers secondary coach Ray Horton, the Cardinals' new defensive coordinator, knew the first stat. He cited a variation of it Tuesday during a Sirius radio interview.
It's unclear whether Horton knew the second stat, but if the Cardinals had no problems on defense, they wouldn't have hired Horton in the first place.
A few observations after listening to Horton with Sirius hosts Pat Kirwan and Tim Ryan:
- Horton repeatedly emphasized trust. He said he doesn't focus on getting players to buy into his system. He wants to earn their trust, figuring everything flows from there.
- Horton credited Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau for helping him learn to value player input, calling it the best thing he ever learned from LeBeau. We're going to hear much about Horton installing the Steelers' defensive system, but the Cardinals do not have Pittsburgh's players. Horton: "I do not want guys to buy into my system. I want them to trust me. And if they trust me, I will get them there."
- Horton, a former NFL cornerback and safety, demands sure and aggressive tackling from his secondary. Horton practically cackled when the subject came up. That part sounds non-negotiable. As Horton noted, just about every long run features missed tackles in the secondary.
- Horton reiterated earlier comments about the need to be aggressive on defense. He said the Cardinals are "not going to sit back" and let offenses dictate to them. Horton: "That is the identity I want to set, and if somebody knows we're coming, good for them. They know we're coming. Better button up. Are we bringing pressure? Yeah. I want players to understand what we are going to do. ... We're going to come after people."
The part about player input stood out because so much focus goes to offensive and defensive systems.