Todd Bowles had been considered for defensive coordinator jobs before – he, in fact, interviewed for the vacant Cardinals’ job in 2011 that ended up going to Ray Horton – but his only stint in that role came on an interim basis with the Philadelphia Eagles last season.
It didn’t go well, although the Eagles were already struggling mightily when he took over.
Yet Bowles, who met the media for the first time Thursday as the new defensive coordinator of the Cardinals, isn’t fazed by such small sample size.
“I don’t think one year makes you a bad coach,” Bowles said. “Or a good coach.”
“You can tell by the body of work,” Bowles added. “When things go good you can tell what kind a person he really is and when things go bad you can tell what kind of person he really is. You have to be even-keeled in this business. You are in it long enough (and) you are not going to have success every week or every game.”
There wasn’t any confusion for head coach Bruce Arians either, who coached Bowles in college when Bowles was a safety
“There was never a doubt, if I ever got a head coaching job, that’s who I was going to first,” Arians said.
Bowles, 49, knows what Horton accomplished in his short time in Arizona and understands the expectations. The Cardinals will keep their 3-4 base alignment and Bowles said the changes won’t be dramatic.
He and Arians want the defense to build upon what they did in 2012 – ranked 12th overall, fifth against the pass, third in the league in takeaways and third in red-zone defense – but what the unit had under Horton doesn’t impact what happens now.
“I don’t think you get any better or worse based on who comes in (as coach) or who doesn’t come in,” Bowles said. “The fact (the defense) is going to be similar should help out. I thought Ray did a good job when he was in here and I think the players did a good job. We’re just going to try and add to that.”
Bowles has worked with both 4-3 and 3-4 schemes, but he broke into the NFL coaching ranks with the 2000 New York Jets – coincidentally, a staff that also had former Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt – where Bill Parcells had instituted a 3-4 scheme.
It was there, Bowles said, where Parcells taught him to learn what everyone on defense should be doing – not just the position he was coaching – and the hows and whys of installing a 3-4 defense.
A “piece or two” might be added, Bowles said, but the players should be comfortable in the transition.
“We don’t want to take any steps back,” Arians said.
As with the offense, Arians talked about being strong in certain situations. That trumps overall rankings, something that the 2011 defense used as a rallying point as the offense struggled late in the season and the playoffs became a lost cause.
Arians, obviously, wants to make sure the postseason is part of the equation.
“I’m not a statistics guy, where a defense is ranked, where an offense is ranked,” Arians said. “I only care about wins and losses. Yes we want the number one defense in the league. But is that yards? No. We want the best third-down defense, the best red-zone defense, the best two-minute defense. I don’t really care about yards. I think that’s a bogus stat.”
Arians believes Bowles is “one of the brightest defensive minds” he has ever been around. He thinks the former safety – he played eight seasons with the Redskins and 49ers – will eventually be a head coach.
In the meantime, Bowles will get to work with his first full-time coordinating position trying to bridge to a season completed that had pretty good defensive results. The pressure may be there, but Bowles – asked about trying to win over the defensive players – didn’t seem to be bothered.
“It’s (about) hard work,” Bowles said. “Players go, coaches go. We all have our favorite players and our favorite coaches. But they know it is part of the business like we do, and we will work together and I will coach them hard.”