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Fitz and McCoy

NFL: Arizona Cardinals-OTA The Republic-USA TODAY NETWORK

This is the first time in Larry Fitzgerald’s fabled career that he has not caught a TD pass in 6 games. After the Cardinals’ 27-17 loss in Minnesota, Fitz’s father tweeted his frustration with offensive coordinator Mike McCoy.

It is mystifying that in three trips to the red zone, the Cardinals looked disorganized and squeamishly tentative and not once in those three occasions did the Cardinals take a shot into the end zone for Larry Fitzgerald (that is when he was on the field). No chances for Fitz, in Minnesota of all places—-and with Fitz’s “Make a Wish” pal Tennyson in the crowd.

Upon Fitz’s and the team’s return to Arizona, Fitz’s father, Larry Sr., had deleted his tweet. And while meeting with the press, Fitz displayed extraordinary empathy for Mike McCoy. Fitz said, “It’s a team game. Everybody’s got to be held accountable. None of us has done a good enough job to this point to be successful. To try to blame one person is not fair or right. Unfortunately in this profession, there always needs to be a finger pointed at somebody. Somebody has to be blamed. It’s always been that way, and it’s unfortunate.”

Wait, there’s more.

Fitz went on to laud Mike McCoy’s work ethic and dedication—-“I know people outside the building don’t understand what it’s like to see guys working so hard. Mike McCoy is in this building every day at 4:30 (a.m.) and leaving here at 10:30 (p.m.). I don’t even know if he sees his wife and kids. He’s a tireless worker. These guys put in a lot of time and effort to give us the recipes to go out there and have success. So when blame is placed on guys like that, it’s tough on all of us. The relationships we have, it’s not just football. It’s personal. You want to do well for everybody.”

Notice that Fitz said—-”It’s personal.”

So there sat Fitz in front of the media and defended the one offensive coordinator in his tenure in Arizona who hasn’t made it a point or even a priority to throw to him in the end zone and called the criticism of McCoy or anyone who has something to do with the Cardinals struggling offense “personal.”

Clearly, Fitz has been hearing all of the noise and sharp criticism that McCoy has been receiving by members of the local and national media. Yet, yesterday during Mike McCoy’s press conference, McCoy appeared to be unfazed and unaware of the criticism.

“No offense, but I don’t watch a lot of TV,” McCoy said. “I don’t read papers. I don’t get on the internet. I’m too busy doing other things, putting plans together. And when my family is in town, I spend every minute I can with them, or talking to them at night when they’re in San Diego, things like that. I’ve been in this long enough (to not get wrapped up in the fervor).”

This is sad.

if what Fitz said is true, Mike McCoy, whose family still lives in San Diego where he was once the head coach, is putting in 15 hour days at the Cardinals’ facility and when he goes back to his hotel or apartment, he calls his wife and kids to say goodnight and then turns out the light and tries to get a good whopping five hours of sleep so that he can be in the shower by 4 AM to go do it all over again.

But even Mike McCoy knows how all of this works.

This is a results oriented business which requires salesmanship. If people aren’t buying what you are selling, the company has to hire someone else who can. It’s a numbers game—-if the numbers are good, you stay. if not——you’re gone.

In the first half of Mike McCoy’s first game as the Cardinals’ offensive coordinator, he and his 3-and-out offense were getting resoundingly booed. It took all of one half! That much, McCoy cannot tune out.

McCoy’s answer to establishing the Cardinals’ running game is to be #1 in the NFL at running up the middle. As a result, potential superstar RB David Johnson is averaging 3.2 yards per carry and he is taking a beating doing it. His backup, rookie Chase Edmonds is averaging 2.9 yards per carry.

Every week we’ve been hearing from Steve Wilks that the plan is to move David Johnson around and get him more involved in the passing game where they can get him out in space—-yet each week goes by and Johnson has not been moved around much and he gets thrown to 2 or 3 times on flare passes or screens. The one time they ran a corner pass to him, he scored a TD. Take that one throw away and Johnson has 16 catches in 6 games for a mere 112 yards. David Johnson is capable of gaining 112 yards receiving a game—-let alone in 6 games.

But each week it seems Mike McCoy still hasn’t gotten the message.

To McCoy’s credit—-he and OL coach Ray Brown have been diligently piecing together pass protection packages—-versus the 49ers, they used 7 blockers to ensure that Josh Rosen would have time to throw downfield on the first play deep post TD to Christan Kirk. Last week versus the Vikings, they had their hands full with Mike Zimmer’s elaborate blitz schemes and for the most part the protection was well designed—-good enough for Rosen to complete 67% of his passes (21/31 for 240 yards, 1 int.).

McCoy and the offense will have to have very good pass protection plans versus Von Miller and the Broncos’ pass rush on Thursday Night Football. That—-and a more creative play calling approach particularly for David Johnson—-or the boobirds will make it impossible for McCoy to turn off the noise. Curious too that while McCoy seems unaware of “the noise,” Steve Wilks, his head coach, is so aware of the noise that he has put his own job on the line this week. From one extreme to the other—-isn’t it?

Von Miller has promised the Broncos are going to “kick the Cardinals’ asses.”

One would think that Mike McCoy would have added incentive in this game, seeing as the Broncos fired him as their OC in mid-season last year. Sadly, if McCoy doesn’t start throwing to Fitz in the red zone instead of calling a chicken sheet hitch pass screen to Fitz on 3rd and 22 with the game still on the line, no matter how much empathy Fitz has for his OC, history is likely to repeat itself for McCoy—-because the Cardinals’ offense can’t fly—-if it can’t spread its wings.