I don't have too much trouble with the idea that you need the rows of coils set off from the ship to create the most efficient pulsing, asymmetrical two-lobed field possible. The Cardassians or anyone else who puts the coils within the structure of the ship are making a tradeoff, as some Federation ships do to various degrees (e.g., Defiant
). If the deflector shields are the primary protection for the ship, the structural headaches of having them out there on pylons become secondary for most mission profiles, so I can buy it.
As to where exactly the M/A reactions were taking place on 1701: OH NO NOT AGAIN RUN