Arizona Cardinals blown out in season opening loss to Washington Redskins

When the Arizona Cardinals deferred to the second half after
winning the opening coin toss Authentic Tre
Boston Jersey
 , Steve Wilks wanted to send a message.This team is
built on defense and running the football.After the first game of the Wilks era,
the team may want to be built on those principles, but they don’t have the
personnel to do that just yet, as the Cardinals were throttled by the Washington
Redskins 24-6 in Steve Wilks opening game.The Cardinals were manhandled in the
first half, being out gained 261 to 36, and in the second half, while they were
able to gain some yards and finally put some points on the board, they still did
it through the air.In the first half, after forcing a punt on the Skins first
drive of the game, the Skins and Alex Smith went on scoring drives of 80 yards
over 5:53, 73 yards over 9:06 and then 92 yards over 3:11.That was what the
Cardinals wanted their offense to look like, yet their defense could not get off
the field defensively and could not establish anything offensively.The Cardinals
running game was limited, not by the Skins defense, but instead the inability to
use it.They only were able to run the ball 15 times, only nine with David
Johnson, for 68 yards and their lone touchdown, a David Johnson two-yard
touchdown run.Offensively, it was still the Cardinals passing game that
dominated the day.Yet ,
despite the accuracy and carefulness we heard about throughout the offseason,
Sam Bradford was nothing short of brutal in his debut.Bradford finished 20/34
for 153 yards no touchdowns, one interception and one fumble.4.5 yards per
attempt is not ideal for a quarterback.Larry Fitzgerald finished with seven
catches for 76 yards, the Cardinals wide receivers only had one other reception
on the day.David Jonson caught five passes for 30 yards, Ricky Seals-Jones had
three catches for 19 yards, yet had a bad drop on a tough catch in the endzone
late in the fourth quarter that would have made the game look a little more
respectable.It was a concern coming in and it remains a concern after game
one.The biggest concern for the Cardinals has to be their offense though, that
had no flow, no momentum and no big plays.We are on to LA for a matchup against
the Los Angeles Rams.Bidwill and Keim Need to Change The Plan (It’s on them, not
Steve Wilks) It would be way too easy to place the onus of the blame on head
coach Steve Wilks for the Cardinals’ egregious ineptitude through two weeks.If
Wilks is to be blamed for anything, it might be for accepting the terms of his
employment in Arizona. He was the first and only coaching candidate to accept
Michael Bidwill’s conditions that the new head coach be amenable to developing
Steve Keim’s previous draft picks, many of whom have thus far floundered. Wilks
was also asked to embrace players with quirky personalities, rather than
alienate them. When Wilks was hired and was explaining his plan at his
introductory presser, it felt like he was reading a script written by Michael
Bidwill. It was detailed expose of how to counter everything that went awry
during the last two years of Bruce Arians’ tenure. The problem is—-some of the
things Wilks said he was open to were things that his owner and GM would later
handcuff—-like espousing open competitions at all positions.Knowing that Wilks
is a defensive oriented coach, Steve Keim wanted to make sure that Wilks was
paired with an experienced offensive coordinator. From the get-go local pundits
like Mike Jurecki and John Gambadoro were feverishly promoting Mike McCoy and
reminding listeners that Keim wanted to interview McCoy for the head coaching
job back in 2013, well before Keim ever reached out to Bruce Arians.Thus, Keim
set a plan in motion—-to hire McCoy and set him up with two veteran QBs in Sam
Bradford and Mike Glennon—-then to insist that the Cardinals were simply
“retooling” and shouldn’t miss a beat—-and finally to stock the offensive talent
cupboard in the 2018 NFL Draft by selecting 5 offensive players out of his six
picks.However—-it is important to note that Keim’s offensive retooling plan was
a 2 year plan—-he signed McCoy, Bradford and Glennon to two year windows—-and
that wasn’t just by coincidence. Over the years, McCoy has fared better with
veteran QBs—-so pairing him with Bradford and Glennon for two years was the
plan. At the time it seemed very reasonable because even though Keim had his
sights set on drafting the QBOF in the first round Womens
Larry Fitzgerald Jersey
 , sitting at #15, the likelihood of him
being able to draft one of the top rated, most NFL-ready QBs in the draft were
not high, unless Keim would be willing to give up a plethora of high draft
picks.Thus—-the thought was that Keim would wind up drafting a project like Josh
Allen, who would need a couple of years in practice to develop. Rumor was that
when Keim had a deal in place with the Broncos at #5, Allen was Keim’s target.
As we know, the Broncos stayed at #5 to take DE Bradley Chubb and two picks
later at #7 the Bills traded up for Allen.But then—-Josh Rosen happened. It felt
like a miracle of sorts. Not only that Rosen, billed as the most precocious and
NFL-ready QB in the draft was still available at #10—-but that Keim didn't have
to give up multiple first round picks to draft him.The minute the Cardinals were
able to acquire Josh Rosen—-Keim’s initial 2 year plan of McCoy with Bradford
and Glennon should have been modified.Even Bruce Arians, who is leery and
disdainful of how college QBs are being developed, insists that if you draft a
QB high in the top half of the first round it does no good to sit him. Drafting
Rosen should have been a game changer.Unfortunately, Steve Keim wasn’t around
for the majority of training camp—-but—-Wilks had to have been given a memo that
the McCoy/Bradford plan was still a full go—-and thus the QB situation was a
fait accompli and not a competition.As it turned out—-Rosen showed good promise
in pre-season game 2, but was shut down by the head coach in games 3 and 4 due
to Rosen’s bruised thumb, which Rosen said wasn’t hampering him at all.After two
bad losses to start the season which included cascades of boos from the fans at
home—-there is now every reason to scrap the McCoy/Bradford plan—-except it
would appear that Steve Keim is still pulling the strings. You have probably
heard Keim gush about Bradford and say how immensely excited he is to see Sam
Bradford with his elite skillset lead the offense.You see—-the problem with
Keim’s two year McCoy/Bradford plan is that who wants to root for and get
emotionally attached to a coach and a QB who will be gone in a year or two?From
Bradford’s end—-why should he want to get too excited about once again being the
veteran QB on a team that has just drafted their QBOF? Bradford has to know that
he’s one and done in Arizona. That might explain why Bradford is playing hot
potato with the football. He likely wants to play beyond this year and knows
that if he doesn’t get injured, new teams will be lined up (he said he turned
down more money from two teams when he signed with the Cardinals). Why would
Bradford want to get too attached to new teammates whom he is likely going to be
saying goodbye to in January? Sure some would say that Bradford’s greatest
incentive should be to light up the scoreboard so that he gets another lucrative
contract elsewhere. Yes, but Bradford got a lucrative contract this year while
only playing in one game last year——teams know about his talent—-all they really
want to know is that his knee is fine.As for McCoy—-it appears the coach is
incorrigible. First of all, he could have adopted the verbiage of the play
calling from Arians’ offense so as to cash in on the players’ familiarity with
the language—-instead, much to Larry Fitzgerald and others’ dismay, he decided
to change everything over to his language. Secondly ,
the rap on him in Denver was that his playbook was too thick and difficult for
the players to master, which was one of the main reasons why he got fired in the
middle of the season last year. Steve Wilks said yesterday that the team needed
to “scale back” the offense—-which seems absurdly ironic, seeing as the few
plays the Cardinals have run have been so redundantly vanilla.Thirdly, McCoy
could have spent his unemployed months getting up to snuff on the current rage
of innovative play-calling in the NFL—-as manifested by the likes of Doug
Pederson, Sean McVay, Josh McDaniels, Pat Shurmur and last night from new Bears’
head coach Matt Nagy. We have been watching the Cardinals for a few months
now—-through 4 pre-season games and 2 regular season games—-have you once seen
even one play from McCoy and thought, wow that was clever?Winning in today's NFL
often comes down to the competitive advantage the coaches give their players.
Every team has talent to work with, but not every coaching staff can give their
players the confidence that they have the strategic advantage that wins games.To
me, it is clear what the Cardinals should do. They should release McCoy
andBradford. McCoy was hired for Bradford, not for Rosen. Keep Byron Leftwich as
QB coach and promote WR coach Kevin Garver to offensive coordinator. Garver is
the young hidden gem on the Cardinals’ coaching staff. Well, not so hidden, that
is, because back in January the Cardinals had to deny the Seahawks permission to
interview Garver.Garver was Nick Saban’s offensive analyst in 2011 and
2012—-both national championship years. He also is a favorite of Larry
Fitzgerald’s...which says and means a lot. If Garver shows signs that he can get
this offense rolling, there's a decent chance that Larry Fitzgerald could return
next year. Garver’s youthful energy would be a boon and a gust of fresh air for
Josh Rosen. Tomorrow I want to write about Steve Wilks’ challenges on the
defensive side of the ball—-where there have been some positive flashes and
signs for a promising future.But, for today—-it’s time to encourage the
Cardinals to be bold enough to move on from a plan that should have been
modified the very minute Josh Rosen became an Arizona Cardinal.Having a fresh
start with Rosen should excite the team and the fans—-and should allow everyone
to feel a little more patient and understanding of the process of bringing the
present into the future.
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