The Cardinals are putting the full-court press on Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker coach Keith Butler. Butler is a disciple of legendary defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau and remains close friends with coach Ken Whisenhunt.
The addition of Butler would certainly be welcomed but still won’t solve any of the offensive problems in the desert. Questions at quarterback, along the offensive line, tight end and even to an extent running back and wide receiver (looking long-term) plagued the team much more than the defense in 2010. These issues still must be addressed.
The fact that Whisenhunt won’t hire an offensive coordinator is still somewhat puzzling. Todd Haley, now coach of the Kansas City Chiefs, proved to be an extremely valuable asset and having Kurt Warner in the mix was like having three offensive coordinators working simultaneously. Although passing-game coordinator Mike Miller began calling some plays last season, the Cardinals have gone from essentially three OC’s to just one in Whisenhunt.
Back to Butler, who if hired, would be expected to continue Arizona’s attempt to perfect the 3-4 defense, something Clancy Pendergast and Bill Davis were unable to accomplish. Butler comes with much more notoriety than the previous two leaders of the Cardinals defense but more than anything Butler will need help from the offensive side of the ball.
Butler or whoever takes the reins of the defense in Arizona will be inheriting some legitimate playmakers. There’s no reason to think Adrian Wilson won’t thrive in the exotic blitz packages designed by Butler. Darnell Dockett remains a force on the interior and Calais Campbell, despite a somewhat disappointing 2010 campaign, still has potential.
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Greg Toler provide an adequate tandem at cornerback and their potential ceiling is high. Both players must progress in 2011 if they’re able to reach that potential. Kerry Rhodes is a tremendous veteran leader playing alongside Wilson at safety.
The one area not mentioned is at linebacker, where help is needed. Daryl Washington’s is another player who would likely thrive if Butler were hired, due to his tremendous versatility and explosiveness. Paris Lenon might be a good stop-gap for another year but reinforcements are needed at both inside and outside linebacker.
Given the facts above, Butler would make a great hire and would make the most of the Cardinals defensive firepower. But the Arizona front office needs to be even more dedicated to improving the offense, which was downright dreadful throughout 2010.