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3 Winners and 7 Losers from the 45-10 Loss to the Chargers

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Today’s game in Los Angeles was a rough one, with many more losers than winners. Here’s what we saw out there today.

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NFL: Arizona Cardinals at Los Angeles Chargers
Coach Steve Wilks perhaps pondering his future during Sunday’s blowout loss to the Chargers.
Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Earlier this afternoon, the Cardinals suffered their second 45-10 loss to an AFC West foe this season, this time in Los Angeles at the hands of the Chargers. An embarrassment would be one way to put it. Par for the course under Steve Wilks would be another.

In the wake of this latest blowout loss, let’s see who the winners (not many) and losers (several) were.

Winners

The 2019 Arizona Cardinals: No one likes losing, but this result is a good thing for next year’s squad. The obvious benefit to losing is that it bumps us up in the draft order—Tankathon currently has us at the #2 overall pick in next April’s draft. That will give us a lot of options to plug the glaring holes in our roster—either we can take a stud offensive or defensive lineman, or we can trade back to stockpile picks (and still get a potential stud). However, the embarrassing nature of the loss also increases the chances that the organization cuts ties with Steve Wilks this offseason. Anyone who has watched the past nine games knows that would be a huge addition by subtraction.

DT Robert Nkemdiche: There weren’t many bright spots on the field, but Diche played like a man possessed out there today—just look at him blowing up this reverse. On the day, he had 8 tackles (6 solo), 4 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, and 3 QB hits. This is who we thought we were drafting in the first round in 2016. Diche has flashed before, but not like this. If he can build on this game down the stretch, DT might not be as big a need in the offseason.

WR Larry Fitzgerald: Fitzgerald looked like he was in for a big day after catching this 25-yard TD in the first quarter, but…

Losers

WR Larry Fitzgerald: …he was only targeted once the rest of the day, on our last offensive play. It doesn’t matter what the gameflow was, the score, the coverage—you can’t give your best WR only two targets, especially a legend who still seems to have plenty left in the tank like Fitz. Unless something drastic happens in the offseason, I can’t imagine Fitz would come back for another season of two-target, 45-10 beatdowns.

K Phil Dawson: One guy who won’t be coming back no matter what is Dawson, who shanked a 46-yard FG in the 2nd quarter that would’ve put us up 13-7. The Chargers scored a TD five plays later to take the lead for good. It’s hard to figure out why Dawson is even on our roster at this point—he’s not going to be on the team next year and he’s a flat-out liability on FGs. Maybe the recent addition of Zane Gonzalez to our practice squad was a preemptive move and the former Sun Devil will get a shot in Week 13. He can’t be worse than Dawson (or the Wildcats’ kicker for that matter!).

The Entire Secondary: Yes, Budda Baker didn’t play, and, yes, we were playing a future Hall of Fame QB, but allowing any QB to start a game 25/25 (and end up 28/29) is just embarrassing (that word will be a theme in this article). Philip Rivers got anything he wanted through the air today, whether it was throws downfield to Keenan Allen or Travis Benjamin, or short tosses to Mike Williams or Austin Ekeler. You have to give some credit to the Chargers backs and receivers—they did make some impressive catches—but the Cardinals played soft all afternoon and got burned.

DC Al Holcomb: That softness was characteristic of the entire defense today, including in the run game, where the Redbirds were once again gashed, this time to the tune of 30 attempts for 178 yards (5.9 YPC) and 3 TDs. The defense has mostly held its own this season (#9 in DVOA heading into today’s game), but the wheels fell off today, as we gave up 414 yards and 45 points. Injuries played a role (Baker, Josh Bynes), but we offered absolutely no resistance after the first series or two today. We were constantly out of position, missed several tackles, and generally got steamrolled. It was a pathetic display.

OC Byron Leftwich: And the offense was just as bad—we only gained 149 total yards (second-lowest of the season) and scored 10 points (third-lowest of the season). That’ll happen when you only run a measly 3 plays in the 3rd quarter, and 16 total in the second half. That’s truly McCoy-esque. But the most asinine thing is that, of those 16 plays, 11(!) were runs. And this from a team that was down 28-10 at the half. The offense was absolutely excruciating to watch in the 2nd half—each of our four possessions started with, yep, you guessed it, an ineffective run into the pile. Talk about McCoy-esque. Whatever questions you have about our offense, it sure doesn’t look like Leftwich is the answer, unfortunately.

HC Steve Wilks: Of course, it’s hard to say for sure, because it sure looked like the team quit on Wilks today. The lackadaisical defense, the lack of urgency on offense, the palpable listlessness from about the 2nd quarter on. The players deserve a ton of blame themselves for their effort, but that all stems from Wilks. He just doesn’t seem like he’s coaching to win. Why not go for it on 4th-and-3 from the 28 instead of sending in the FG unit? (That’s the kick Dawson missed.) Why not go for it on 4th-and-6 from the 45 instead of punting? (Which went into the end zone for a touchback.) Why are you running it 11 times down multiple TDs in the 2nd half? It was gutless coaching, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that you got a gutless performance from your team.

GM Steve Keim: All that said, this roster is Keim’s mess, so he deserves almost as much as much blame as Wilks for today’s loss. It was Keim who kept Dawson over Matt McCrane, Keim who put together the shoddy and injury-prone offensive line, Keim who failed to surround his rookie QB with adequate offensive talent, and Keim who didn’t pursue LBs who fit his new DC’s preferred scheme. This team is full-on collapsing in front of our very eyes. I hope Michael Bidwill realizes he needs to find someone else to put things back together again in the offseason.

Final Thoughts

This was a pathetic performance all around. I suppose the only upshot was that it wasn’t on national TV again. But there were once again several more losers than winners. That trend figures to continue next week as we head to Lambeau to face the Packers.

So how are you holding up, Redbirds fans? What did you see out there today? Give us your winners (if there were any) and losers in the comments as we commiserate together.