Around the NFC West: Keeping 3-4 base

February, 8, 2013
2/08/13
9:48
AM ET
Darnell Dockett had it on good authority -- straight from the head coach -- that his role in the Arizona Cardinals' defense would be changing.

"[Bruce Arians] told me he is going to put me in my regular position that I had been playing over the years, (when) I was a dominant force in the middle," Dockett told the Arizona Republic's Dan Bickley before the Super Bowl. "That got me fired up right away because I’ve been just looking for another opportunity to do what I do best, and that’s go out and dominate games."

Dockett, a penetrating defensive tackle at his best, felt miscast playing more of a read-and-react role as a 3-4 defensive end in the scheme Arizona ran under its previous coaching staff.

That's why it was at least a little intriguing Thursday when the team's new defensive coordinator, Todd Bowles, said he planned to stick with the Cardinals' 3-4 base alignment.

All 3-4 schemes are not alike. Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic pointed out some of the differences, noting that the Houston Texans' J.J. Watt plays an up-the-field role within their 3-4 defense. So, while the Cardinals might be sticking with that 3-4 look, they won't be playing the Pittsburgh 3-4 favored by former coordinator Ray Horton.

Dockett presumably will not be a two-gapping defensive end. He'll be freed up to chase after quarterbacks and disrupt the running game. Not that Bowles is likely to build his defense around Dockett. Calais Campbell, Daryl Washington and Patrick Peterson are arguably the best defensive players on the roster. Dockett will be looking for a career revival at age 31. The Cardinals' new scheme should help him in that regard.

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