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A Fan’s Answers To the Cardinals’ Woes

NFL: Denver Broncos at Arizona Cardinals Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

In all three phases of football, the Cardinals’ coaches are not making the necessary adjustments or making maximum use of their personnel.

Look, I am just a long-time fan and a former high school head coach. Could my knowledge of football translate over to what is ailing the Arizona Cardinals? Probably not. But, I am going to try to give this the best shot I can.

The first person I would let go is GM Steve Keim. At this point, Cardinals’ fans know all the positives and negatives of Keim’s tenure as GM. The present reality is that his vision for sustained success is not bearing fruit. The team has lost its most important asset—-the 12th man. Last night was an Orange Sea, not a Red Sea—-and there were whole sections of empty seats.

I think Terry McDonough deserves a chance as interim GM. Michael Bidwill seemed to embrace having greater involvement in the wheelings and dealings when Keim was absent. That might be a good thing. Plus, Mike Disner, imo, as Director of Football Operation is a savvy pro and a long-term keeper. I would also like to see Adrian Wilson become Terry McDonough’s player personnel assistant during this interim. I know A-Dub bleeds Cardinal red.

In a symbolic sense, I think it would best to let Steve Keim go first—-like today—-and then let Mike McCoy, Keim’s hand-picked OC, go on Saturday. McCoy’s fate may have already been sealed—-but if not—-starting the game with ANOTHER dive up the middle to David Johnson, an embarrassing timeout on the second play, and then ANOTHER get rid of the ball as fast as you can pass on 2nd down, which the Broncos’ defense was fully expecting, which led to a tipped pass pick six and the start of an avalanche of poor plays.

In McCoy’s place, we go with Byron Leftwich, who appears to have a very good rapport with Josh Rosen—-and in unison with Rosen and OL coach Ray Brown, they can give the offense a spark by modernizing a more creative attack, one in which it doesn’t take 7 games and being behind 42-3 to finally throw to David Johnson out of the slot.

On Saturday, I would also relieve RB coach Kirby Wilson of his duties and replace him with offensive assistant Cameron Turner. Not only are the Cardinals’ RBs woefully under-performing last night we saw yet AGAIN a few of the more feeble attempt to chip block on DEs than one would see even at the Pop Warner level. One whiff after another—-and they haven’t even been coached to wait until the DE commits to his path, to then lower the block, as the RBs are just running in the DEs direction and then trying to throw a last second shoulder at them. It’s bad football and it is inexcusable. Plus the team’s most electric kickoff returner and fastest RB to the hole, T.J. Logan, is languishing on the inactive list. That too is inexcusable.

I would like to see Leftwich employ some slight pocket shifts for Rosen. They can double down with the TE on the play side DE and snap the ball to Rosen from the shotgun and his him shift the pocket to the edge of the box—-which buys him more time from the backside DE, whom the RB could help out on if need be. That—-and get a full array of bootlegs and waggles in for Rosen. Moving him around, imo, will help his productivity and cut down on the number of hits he is taking. Take advantage of Rosen’s feet.

As for the defensive side of the ball, it irked me to no end to see Steve Wilks primarily blame the offense for what transpired last night—-and then praise his defense for holding the Broncos to a FG late in the game. The fact is—-you CANNOT win in the NFL trying to defend the run from an undersized nickel defense—-and you CANNOT win in the NFL playing soft zones. You CANNOT win in the NFL by never setting hard edges—-and you HAVE to make sure your FS stays on top of the deepest threat. Add to that some pitiful tackling efforts and this defense deserves to be right where it is—-at the bottom of the NFL.

And NO, James Bettcher’s defense was not a Top 6 defense, not anywhere close.

We will know when the Cardinals’ defense has become legit when the edges are finally set and they are not asking the safeties and CBs to play contain.

Thus, I think that Coach Wilks has warranted an ultimatum. Either you start employing a standard base defense that is far better equipped to set hard edges and to defense the run and to play stickyman coverage with over the top FS help, or you will be relieved of your job after the last game. Wilks cannot get away with trying to spend the whole year in the nickel. We have to be able to see how he and Al Holcomb can coach a base defense.

At this point there has to be a disconnect between Wilks and Steve Keim and even Michael Bidwill—-wasn’t he hired to be able to coach up players with “different personalities”? Well, last night there were more Cardinals first rounders and high draft picks on the pine than ever before, even under BA. They are being termed “not a fit for the system.” Well, no other team runs a nickel as its “system.” This MUST change and there has to be signs of progress with the high draft picks.

I also believe that STs coach, Jeff Rodgers, has warranted an ultimatum—-start playing the best players (T.J. Logan) and get rid of the yellow flaggers (Williams, Taylor and Peterson). The Broncos were pooch kicking to Williams because they saw on tape that he is not a threat and has trouble advancing the ball past the 20. The team has been losing the field position battle for weeks now. This is almost getting Amos Jones bad.

As for the team’s personnel, we are going to need to add a couple of guards asap. Weird that they just cut Will House who they’ve been coaching for several months. At least he knows the play calls. They have to put RG Justin Pugh on the IR and they should open up a roster spot by releasing QB Sam Bradford (the highest paid coach on the team). There is NO point in keeping him. Promote Chad Kanoff from the PS, which they should have done with FS Darian Thompson before he was wooshed away by the Giants.

I would also release Jamar Taylor and Brandon Williams—-re-sign Tim Scott and have him and Deatrick Nichols compete for playing time at the backup CB and nickel spots. Do NOT cut Nichols again. We need to add depth at FS too. I think it would be good to see Zeke Turner and Dennis Gardeck get some reps in the defense, as they are two of the more physical tacklers on the team. This defense needs bangers.

The other change I would like to see is playing WR Trent Sherfield. Reduce J.J. Nelson’s snaps and use Sherfield on crossing and corner routes—-which he ran superbly during the pre-season. That, and incorporate T.J. Logan’s speed into the situational play calls—-and insert him once and for all as the team’s kickoff returner.

Just one fan’s thoughts. Now, let’s hear yours.