It is better late than never for Wilks to relieve Mike McCoy of his duties as offensive coordinator. Now the Cardinals are reaping the rewards for the move, along with other changes on the team.
Byron “Screen King” Leftwich
Byron Leftwich called 10 screen plays in his first game as an offensive coordinator, compared to the McCoy’s 23 screens calls through the first seven weeks of the season. The best part about Leftwich was that he made the necessary adjustment during halftime.
The #AZCardinals pass protection was solid throughout the game— PFF ARZ Cardinals (@PFF_Cardinals) October 29, 2018
Q4 - 82.1 pass blocking grade, 3 pressures, 15.0% pressure rate
Q1-Q3 - 81.2 pass blocking grade, 5 pressures, 1 sack, 18.5 pressure rate
The improved play of the offensive line helped Rosen engineer two late-scoring drives that secured the victory for the Cardinals. Leftwich’s future is bright and is off to a good start.
Improved utilization of Larry Fitzgerald and David Johnson
Leftwich made sure to fully utilize Larry Fitzgerald and David Johnson. Both players had their best game of the season.
- Fitzgerald had eight catches for 102 yards and a touchdown. He also caught a pass for a successful two-point conversion. This was his first 100-yard game of the season.
- David Johnson had 100 total scrimmage yards on the season (59 rushing, 41 receiving) for the first time since week four.
Expect David Johnson to be used more in the receiving game moving forward.
Trust in Deone Bucannon and Markus Golden
The growing trust in Markus Golden is evident. He’s receiving more playing time as the starter and he is starting to look like his former self. His seven tackles, two tackles for loss, and one sack was vital in the win over the 49ers. The run game was held in check for the most part thanks to him.
Deone Bucannon had his best game of the season, after struggling the first seven weeks of 2018.
LB Deone Bucannon was given a 74.7 grade against the 49ers by PFF, second-best on the defense behind Budda Baker. Buc's 82.7 run defense grade was tops on the team.— Kyle Odegard (@Kyle_Odegard) October 29, 2018
Looks like Wilks is starting to bring out the best out of his defense, with Markus Golden and, hopefully, Deone Bucannon on the rise. Although I do expect the Cardinals to return to their nickel package formations when Tre Boston returns, Bucannon is off to a solid start in his attempt to stay in the starting lineup.
T.J. Logan the Primary Kick Returner
Wilks and Jeff Rodgers finally made the decision to make T.J. Logan as the primary kick returner over Brandon Williams. Although Logan did not return any kickoffs in the win against the 49ers, he made the smartest decisions to kneel in the endzone for touchbacks.
Williams struggles as a returner were real and his 19.2 yards per return proves it. His benching was only a matter of time and at long last he will be the kick returner no more. The hope is that Logan will add some much-needed spark to the lackluster return unit whenever the ball fails to reach the endzone during kickoffs.