Steve Wilks basically had one job to do to ensure his own stability as the head coach of the Arizona Cardinals:
Don’t lose 45-10 again.
The first time it happened, Mike McCoy took the fall.
A second time? There’s no one else to blame.
The curious case of Wilks has been that since the beginning and the very first game in which the Arizona Cardinals sleepwalked to a 24-6 and 34-0 losses to the Redskins and Rams, the defense came totally unprepared to play and the offense was inept.
Since that first post-game interview in which Wilks said without saying “We just aren’t executing and need to be doing the same thing we’re doing, just better”, many fans suddenly bailed on the first year admiral.
Mostly because the perception of the team that had been built up versus the reality showcased a complete lack of any ability to assess.
And it only continued, with Wilks losing players in the locker room reportedly by benching the veteran quarterback for the rookie in Josh Rosen. (Granted, Bradford was clearly going out and blowing games, but benching a team captain and thrusting a cold rookie into the action for him to nearly throw two picks was an act of desperation).
What it’s looked like then is that Steve Wilks is clueless.
I don’t believe that’s the case—he was a smart enough man to land the position.
But the Cardinals have followed similar patterns throughout the season with zero signs of improvement:
- Decent starts offensively to games only to slide back into inconsistency once the playcalling isn’t scripted
- Mix-ups in coverage on the defensive side in a confusing zone scheme
- Inability to force turnovers despite that being supposedly a team identity
- Inept third quarters where opposing offenses outscore the Cardinals in droves
- Missing gaps and tackles consistently
- Difficulty scoring when teams do force turnovers
- Missed field goals and opportunities on special teams
In short what’s wrong with this team is....everything.
There’s no explanation for the fact that there’s been nearly zero improvement in any of these areas except for one:
Wilks doesn’t know what to do. And that’s why the defense has given up for the 2nd time in as many weeks on defense.
First time I’ve seen these guys quit on Wilks. Looked bad before but not “i don’t give a damn” bad.— Kent Somers (@kentsomers) November 25, 2018
He doesn’t know how to simplify or fix his defense because he doesn’t know how to change it.
He doesn’t have a clue about offensive football and despite being the head coach, doesn’t have the knowledge or wherewithal to make executive offensive decisions that can generate productive offense.
He doesn’t know how to scheme his defense to adjust for guys not staying in gaps or to change up the gap scheme entirely.
What Steve Wilks has is a philosophy. Not the X’s and O’s to back it up.
That’s what gives you the designation of “clueless”. It means you simply don’t have the skills needed to get the job done.
When his philosophy has failed him, Wilks has gone into the half and not made adjustments.
Or, if for some reason he is, the adjustments are too simple, small
And that leads to one of two things.....either Steve Wilks doesn’t believe there is an issue or problem overall with how he is coaching and it’s all on the players, or he’s actively aware of the issues and has zero idea what to do.
I can’t believe the former: no true captain who was praised for leadership continues to steer their vessel towards the oncoming iceberg. That’d be the Hue Jackson approach.
Rather, I believe that Wilks was made the captain of a vessel too soon, without any knowledge of how exactly to steer the ship with the knobs and reading directions and he’s clueless in that sense....and the experienced former captain who was supposed to help him? He was Mike McCoy and part of the problem.
And that leads overall to the other part...why was this inexperienced lieutenant promoted to a captaincy he wasn’t ready for? That result falls onto two people, most notably the one who actually hired him...
If you are going to blame Wilks, you have to squarely look at Keim:— Jess Root (@senorjessroot) November 25, 2018
Keim was given a contract extension and tied himself to Wilks and by all accounts, Michael Bidwill deserves some blame as well.
McCoy was clearly hired due to Wilks’ inexperience to be a guiding force and it’s all backfired.
He put Wilks into an impossible situation as a first-year head coach having to fix a broken offense and taking on a defense that had none of the talent Wilks needed....on Wilks’ end he didn’t adjust to them either.
And in the end, that’s the only difficult decision that’s left. Wilks has done nothing to ensure he has a sniff of being retained for next year. The easy decision would be if he had and you could just say “Alright let’s keep both for one more year as we’ve seen progress.”
Instead they are stepping back. Making it a non-choice about to keep Wilks. Just can’t do it or defend it.
The only decision left is if Steve Keim should join him as well. And that decision, while it might seem simple at first, is much more nuanced and fraught with issues given the tender nature of a young rookie quarterback with franchise potential on a broken team.
And given that this is the one hope that Arizona has...that they DO have a quarterback to build around who’s young, it’s time that they recognize the fact that their approach was as anti-Quarterback as possible. And that’s probably why Steve Keim’s on thin ice right now as well.
It’s not an easy choice like the one to fire Wilks...but it might be a needed one as well for a Cards team in chaos.
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