After beating the Rams on Thursday Night Football in St. Louis back in December of 2014, Bruce Arians spit fire in the faces of the football gods and Rams’ HC Jeff Fisher when he said: “There’s an 11-3 team (Cardinals) out there and the other team (Rams) is always 8-8. You figure it out.”
Well, the Rams sure figured it out and so did the football gods—-oh the irony—-in Bruce Arians’ last season, the Cardinals were the team with 8 wins and the Rams were the team with 11 wins. I guess some people would call this a stunning example of karma.
The Rams were able to win 11 games last year because one year after they drafted QB Jared Goff, they fired Jeff Fisher in order to put Goff in the young, but highly capable and creative hands of Sean McVay.
Under Fisher it looked as if Goff was going to be a bust. Fisher didn’t start Goff until the Rams’ 10th game—-and Goff went 0-7, passing for a mere 1,089 yards at a 54.6% completion percentage rate, throwing 5 TDs to 7 interceptions and getting sacked 26 times for 222 yards for loss.
To help Sean McVay be able to focus much of his time on developing Goff and the Rams’ new-look offense, the Rams hired a highly successful, veteran defensive coordinator in Wade Phillips.
In free agency, they made three key moves to help McVay and Goff get the offense off the ground and running: signing LT Andrew Whitworth, C John Sullivan and WR Robert Woods.
Whitworth, Sullivan and Woods have been even better than advertised.
Look at the first 5 of their 2017 NFL Draft picks:
2. (44) Gerald Everett, TE, South Alabama
3. (69) Cooper Kupp, WR, Eastern Washington
3. (91) John Johnson, S, Boston College
4. (117) Josh Reynolds, WR, Texas A&M
4. (125) Samson Ebukam, LB, Eastern Washington
Talk about CHA-CHING! moneymoneymoney—-MONEY!
if you have been watching the Rams, especially if you watched their stunning 54-51 win over the Chiefs on MNF, Everett caught the game winning TD, Kupp has been a star from day one, but recently was lost for this rest of season with a torn ACL (but he was ably replaced by Josh Reynolds last night who caught 6 passes for 80 yards and a nifty TD in the right corner of the end zone), Johnson was the leading tackler for both sides in the game last night with 11 (74 tackles and 3 interceptions on the season) and Ebukam was one of their brightest defensive stars who scored two, that’s right, two defensive TDs!
The Cardinals need to do for Josh Rosen what the Rams did for Jared Goff. Hire a QB guru and creative play caller as the new head coach, which would ensure that Rosen would be in the same system for the next 4 years under the same head coach/OC.
Next, the Cardinals need to pair the offensive minded head coach with a veteran defensive coordinator. For example, bringing Todd Bowles back as DC would be superb, assuming that Bowles becomes available, that he doesn’t get another HC job and that he would want to return to the Cardinals.
In free agency—-the Cardinals need to add 2 key stabilizing players on the offensive line, just as the Rams did (Whitworth, Sullivan)—-and they need to add a tough, cagy, chain moving playmaker at WR the way the Rams did with Woods.
On the defensive side the Cardinals need to re-sign DE Markus Golden.
In free agency and/or the 2019 NFL Draft the Cardinals need to add talent and depth at DT, DE, LB (2), CB, S, OL, WR, TE and K.
It may take a little while to catch up to the Rams—-but with Rosen on his rookie contract, with a premium draft position and with over $70M of cap space the Cardinals can start chipping their way back as fast as they can.
I have to say—-having spent hours watching and analyzing Jared Goff’s game tapes at Cal, I never in my wildest dreams pictured him playing as well as he is right now. There were so many times at Cal where, at least to me, he looked like a backpedalling, throw of the back foot version of Kevin Kolb.
Intersting, because Goff is still throwing off his back foot—-but he isn't bailing out too quickly and his touch has bee superb.
You think coaching makes a big difference in the NFL?
How about the job Andy Reid is doing with Patrick Mahomes? When you watch Mahomes’ games at Texas Tech he was all over the place with his decision making—-sometimes making jaw-dropping throws, but other times making bone headed mistakes, particularly in the red zone. It is incredible how Reid has been able to get Mahomes to play within the discipline of their offense. The kid in his first season as the starter has thrown for 37 TDs (vs. 10 interceptions) in 11 games (9-2) for 3,628 yards at a completion percentage of 67.5. It’s unbelievable!
Goff has thrown for 26 TDs (vs. 6 ints.) for 3,578 yards in 11 games (10-1) at a completion percentage of 67.7. This is only his 3rd year.
But—-imagine where Goff would be today if Jeff Fisher were still the need coach? Imagine where Mahomes would be today if he had been drafted by the Bills instead of by the Chiefs.
The successful defensive minded head coaches in the league like Bill Belichick and Mike Tomlin have had Pro Bowl QBs (Super Bowl MVP winners) for over 15 years and offensive coordinators who either became head coaches (McDaniels, Whizenhunt, Arians) or were once head coaches and retuned (McDaniels)....and with franchises have two of the very best, veteran OL coaches in the NFL (Dante Scarnecchia and Mike Munchak, who was also a head coach).
But—-today—-if you don’t a proven Pro Bowl QB and you just drafted the QBOF, it behooved you to pair that young QB with an offensive guru type of head coach.