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James Bettcher
Defensive Coordinator
College:
University of St. Francis (IN)
Hometown:
Lakeville, IN
Experience:
6

Biography

NoteCARDS:

  • Promoted to Cardinals defensive coordinator on 2/4/15 after spending the previous two seasons coaching Arizona’s outside linebackers.
  • The Cardinals finished last season with the NFL’s #2 ranked defense after having the #5 ranked defense in Bettcher’s first season as defensive coordinator in 2015. It is the first time in team history the Cardinals have gone consecutive seasons with one of the league’s top-five defenses. The #2 ranking in 2016 is the top defensive ranking in franchise history.
  • The Cardinals led the NFL with 48 sacks last season, the third-highest total in team history. Arizona had two players (Markus Golden-12.5, Chandler Jones-11) with double-digit sacks in a single season for just the third time in team history (1983-84).
  • In the last two seasons (2015-16) the Arizona defense scored nine TDs (6 INT, 3 Fumble). Only Kansas City (11) had more defensive TDs in that span.
  • Bettcher and his wife, Erica, were given the Lifesaver Award in April of 2017 from the City of Chandler Fire, Health and Medical for their quick actions to free a child trapped under a car.
  • In 2015, the Cardinals defense finished ranked #5 in the NFL while also forcing 33 takeaways, the second-best total in the NFL. 
  • First worked with Colts head coach Chuck Pagano as a defensive assistant at the University of North Carolina when Pagano was the defensive coordinator and Butch Davis was the head coach.

 


NoteCARDS:

  • Promoted to Cardinals defensive coordinator on 2/4/15 after spending the previous two seasons coaching Arizona’s outside linebackers.
  • The Cardinals finished last season with the NFL’s #2 ranked defense after having the #5 ranked defense in Bettcher’s first season as defensive coordinator in 2015. It is the first time in team history the Cardinals have gone consecutive seasons with one of the league’s top-five defenses. The #2 ranking in 2016 is the top defensive ranking in franchise history.
  • The Cardinals led the NFL with 48 sacks last season, the third-highest total in team history. Arizona had two players (Markus Golden-12.5, Chandler Jones-11) with double-digit sacks in a single season for just the third time in team history (1983-84).
  • In the last two seasons (2015-16) the Arizona defense scored nine TDs (6 INT, 3 Fumble). Only Kansas City (11) had more defensive TDs in that span.
  • Bettcher and his wife, Erica, were given the Lifesaver Award in April of 2017 from the City of Chandler Fire, Health and Medical for their quick actions to free a child trapped under a car.
  • In 2015, the Cardinals defense finished ranked #5 in the NFL while also forcing 33 takeaways, the second-best total in the NFL. 
  • First worked with Colts head coach Chuck Pagano as a defensive assistant at the University of North Carolina when Pagano was the defensive coordinator and Butch Davis was the head coach.

James Bettcher enters his fifth season with the Cardinals and third as defensive coordinator after he was promoted on 2/4/15. He spent his first two seasons with the Cardinals coaching outside linebackers after originally joining the staff on 2/5/13. The 39-year old Bettcher is in his sixth season in the NFL after coaching the Colts outside linebackers in 2012.

In Bettcher’s first two seasons as defensive coordinator, he led Arizona’s defense to a top-five ranking in consecutive seasons for the first time in team history. The Cardinals #2 ranked defense in 2016 is the team’s highest defensive ranking in franchise history. That followed up Arizona’s #5 defense ranking in 2015.

Arizona led the NFL with 48 sacks in 2016, the third-highest total in team history. OLB’s Markus Golden (12.5) and Chandler Jones (11) each had double-digit sacks, marking just the third time in team history (1983-84) the Cardinals had multiple players with double-digit sacks in a season. Golden’s 12.5 sacks are the most sacks by a LB in team history. DT Calais Campbell led the defensive line with eight sacks, his team-record seventh career season with at least six sacks. CB Patrick Peterson was selected to his sixth consecutive Pro Bowl selection and fifth straight selection at cornerback while Jones was selected as an alternate.  

During Bettcher’s first season as defensive coordinator in 2015, the Cardinals ranked second in the NFL with 33 total takeaways and tied Kansas City for the league lead with six defensive TDs. Arizona also ranked sixth in run defense (91.3 ypg) and seventh in points allowed per game (19.6) that season. Peterson, Campbell and S Tyrann Mathieu were selected to the Pro Bowl and Peterson and Mathieu were both named first-team All-Pro. Arizona ranked sixth in run defense (91.3 ypg) and seventh in points allowed per game (19.6).

As outside linebackers coach in 2014, Bettcher tutored OLB Alex Okafor who had a team-leading eight sacks in just 13 games. Arizona’s defense allowed just 18.7 points per game, the fifth-lowest average in the league, while allowing 20 points or fewer in an NFL-high 13 games. The Cardinals defense allowed just 299 points, the first time the team has allowed fewer than 300 points in a season since 1994 (267).

In his first season in Arizona in 2013, Bettcher helped a Cardinals defense that had 47 sacks, while finishing with the NFL’s #6 ranked defense and the league’s top-ranked run defense (84.4 yards per game). The Cardinals allowed the fewest rushing yards in team history for a 16-game season (1,351). OLB John Abraham was selected to his fifth career Pro Bowl, and first as a linebacker, after he led the team with 11.5 sacks in 2013. 

In 2012, Bettcher worked as the special assistant to Colts head coach Chuck Pagano and 2012 NFL Coach of the Year Bruce Arians, who served as interim head coach for 12 games while Pagano was receiving treatment for leukemia. Bettcher worked with the Colts outside linebackers, helping Robert Mathis get selected to his first Pro Bowl at OLB and his fifth selection overall. The Colts improved from 2-14 in 2011 to 11-5 in 2012, tied for the third-largest turnaround in NFL history and earned a Wild Card berth in the AFC playoffs.

Prior to joining the Colts, Bettcher spent nine years in the college coaching ranks. In 2011, he served as linebackers coach/special teams coordinator at New Hampshire, and he coached the NCAA FCS leading tackler and 2011 Buck Buchanan Award Winner (FCS National Defensive Player of the Year) Matt Evans. He also helped the Wildcats rank in the top 20 nationally in both punt return and punt coverage.

Bettcher coached defensive ends and special teams at Ball State in 2010, where he helped tutor Robert Eddins who led the team in sacks and earned All-MAC honors. From 2007-2009, Bettcher worked as a defensive assistant/defensive graduate assistant at the University of North Carolina, coaching linebackers and special teams and helped the 2009 team finish sixth in the nation in overall defense. At UNC, Bettcher worked with future NFL Pro Bowler Robert Quinn in addition to LB’s Bruce Carter and Quinton Coples. In 2006, he was a defensive graduate assistant at Bowling Green State University, working with the secondary and special teams units.

His coaching career began at his alma mater, the University of St. Francis (IN) from 2003-05 as special teams coordinator and defensive line coach. He also worked with the strength and conditioning staff and was the head track coach (2003-04). During his stint at St. Francis, the Cougars made three trips to the NAIA playoffs, including two national championship game appearances.

During his playing career at St. Francis as an offensive lineman, Bettcher was a three-time NAIA All-America Scholar, a three-time Mid-States Football Association Scholar, a two-time NAIA Coaches All-America choice and a two-time Don Hansen’s All-America selection. He earned all-conference honors three times and was the recipient of the Silver Helmet Award for leadership, coachability and performance on the field in 2002. Bettcher was also a five-time track All-America choice for the Cougars, where he placed second in the shot put at the 2001 NAIA Championships.

Bettcher, a native of Lakeville, IN, was inducted into the University of St. Francis Hall of Fame in 2012. He and his wife, Erica, have a son, Colton and a daughter, Addison.

James Bettcher Coaching Breakdown

Year              School/Team                                  Position

2003–05         University of St. Francis                  Special Teams Coordinator/Defensive Line

2006              Bowling Green                                 Defensive Graduate Assistant

2007–09         University of North Carolina             Defensive Graduate Assistant/Defensive Assistant

2010              Ball State                                        Defensive Ends/Special Teams

2011              University of New Hampshire           Linebackers/Special Teams Coordinator

2012              Indianapolis Colts                            Special Asst. to the Head Coach/Outside Linebackers

2013–14         Arizona Cardinals                            Outside Linebackers

2015–            ARIZONA CARDINALS                    Defensive Coordinator


Photos

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    2016: WR J.J. Nelson hauls in the game-clinching touchdown
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    2016: WR J.J. Nelson celebrates his last touchdown reception
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    Washington QB Kirk Cousins
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    2016: LB Markus Golden
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    A fist bump for WR Larry Fitzgerald

Recent Articles

Recent Videos

  • Cards Daily - Win X 2

    Posted 16 hours ago

    Paul Calvisi brings you the latest news and notes before the team heads on the road to face the Redskins.

  • Bettcher: 'No Big Chunks'

    Posted 18 hours ago

    Defensive coordinator James Bettcher speaks with the media on what the defense must do in order to help the team get a win this Sunday.

  • Cards Daily - Titans Of Run Game

    Posted Dec 8, 2017

    Paul Calvisi brings you the latest news and notes from Cards' HQ before Sunday's game against the Titans.

  • Cards Daily - Titan Up

    Posted Dec 7, 2017

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  • Bettcher: 'They're Going To Be Physical'

    Posted Dec 7, 2017

    Defensive coordinator James Bettcher gives his thoughts on what the defense has to do in order to win against the Titans