Horton staying patient with Cards' defense

Calais Campbell (Getty)

Defensive coordinator Ray Horton knew it would be a learning process in Arizona and hasn't given up on his unit just yet.

Defensive coordinator Ray Horton knew it would be a challenge determining how much of his new scheme he could install without the benefit of an offseason.

He didn't know it would be this hard. The Cardinals struggled so much in the first two weeks that Horton trimmed his game plan by about 80 percent the next week.

The results were positive, limiting Seattle to one touchdown. Horton knew, however, that it was more of a one-week trial, rather than a blueprint for how to play the rest of the season.

Seattle doesn't have a strong offense, and the Cardinals were to keep things basic with little blitzing.

"You have to add something," Horton said. "You can't do what we did (in Seattle) for 16 games and be successful. You have to come after people, and we are."

The Cardinals tried to come after Giants quarterback Eli Manning at times, especially on third down. They only sacked him once, however, and Manning had far too much time late in the game.

That allowed him to throw two touchdown passes in the final five minutes, giving the Giants a 31-27 victory.

Horton's defense, however, has improved over the first month of the season. In the opener, they couldn't stop the Panthers' passing game. In Washington, they failed miserably against the run.

Over the last two weeks, however, the unit has come together. Horton has blitzed less and relied on his front seven to stop the run.

The line is playing particularly well. End Calais Campbell has been dominating the past two weeks. The club has a nice rotation going at nose tackle with Dan Williams and rookie David Carter.

Darnell Dockett is making an impact, even though he's often being double-teamed.

Outside linebackers Clark Haggans and Joey Porter have been decent, but the Cardinals are missing speed at the position. They lack an edge rusher, something Porter was able to do in his prime.

The slow development of O'Brien Schofield is hurting this defense. Schofield hasn't grasped the defense as quickly as coaches had hoped, so it's been hard to give him a significant number of snaps.

He's started wearing a wrist band with the defensive calls, something Horton said James Harrison had success doing in Pittsburgh.

Schofield had great pass-rush ability in college, and the Cardinals might consider using him in sub packages in that role.

They desperately need to beat the Vikings (0-4) this week. The following week is a bye, which should help them in preparing to face the Steelers and Ravens the next two weeks.

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