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Cardinals Name James Bettcher Defensive Coordinator

Posted Feb 4, 2015

Arians promotes outside linebackers coach; Former Packers DC Sanders hired

The long-awaited announcement of the Cardinals’ new defensive coordinator came Wednesday, and it delivered the long-awaited name.

Outside linebackers coach James Bettcher, who had been the one expected for a few weeks, was promoted by Bruce Arians to take over for Todd Bowles. Bowles left to become head coach of the New York Jets.

Arians is out of town. A press conference is expected in the near future.

Arians said last week it was important to stay in-house for the new coordinator because he didn’t want to mess with what has been a successful scheme in his first two seasons. The Cardinals were fifth in the NFL in scoring defense in 2014 (18.7 points a game) and in 2013, the Cardinals led the NFL in rush defense and had 47 sacks, the third-most in a season in franchise history.

“I did not want our players to walk in and not know what they were doing the first day,” Arians said. “No new language. It’s the same defense, the same philosophy.”

Bettcher, 36, was only one of a handful of moves affecting the Cardinals’ defensive staff, filling the spots left by the departures of Bowles, inside linebackers coach Mike Caldwell and defensive assistant Ryan Slowik. Both Caldwell and Slowik joined Bowles on the Jets’ staff.

The team hired Bob Sanders, who was the Packers’ defensive coordinator from 2006-2008 and coached on the Raiders’ staff the last two seasons with linebackers, to coach Arizona's linebackers. Sanders was a college assistant for 22 years before breaking into the NFL in 2001 coaching linebackers (and Pro Bowler Zack Thomas) with the Dolphins. He also spent time on the staff of the Bills.  

Arians also promoted Mike Chiurco, a former Colts scout and high school coach who had spent the last two years as Arians’ assistant, to Slowik’s old defensive assistant/assistant defensive backs coach job.

Wesley Goodwin, who had spent the last six seasons as a coach at Clemson, was hired to take over Chiurco’s old job as Arians’ assistant.

Arians said last week there were still hires he had not made yet, and was still hoping to bring on an ex-player to groom on the staff. Multiple reports say veteran linebacker Larry Foote, who is a free agent and who said he hadn’t decided yet whether to keep playing, would be a coaching candidate if he did decide to retire.

The Cardinals did not renew the contract of assistant strength and conditioning coach Pete Alosi. 

Before coaching outside linebackers with the Cardinals, Bettcher was the special assistant to Colts head coach Chuck Pagano in 2012 as well as working as outside linebackers coach. Before his time with the Colts, Bettcher spent nine seasons coaching in college, at New Hampshire, the University of St. Francis, Bowling Green, North Carolina and Ball State.  


The Cardinals signed free agent safety D.J. Campbell Wednesday. Campbell has played in nine games with four starts in three NFL seasons. Originally a seventh-round pick of Carolina, Campbell has spent time with the Panthers, Dolphins and 49ers. He was last on a roster in August, 2014, when he was cut by San Francisco.

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