I was wrong about the 2018 Arizona Cardinals.
Granted, it wasn’t like I picked them to go to the playoffs or have a dominant offense or anything but I was wrong about the team’s upside.
I simply looked at the purported talent on the team and figured that a 6-10 record seemed about right for the team.
I liked taking the over for a 5.5 win total, and fortunately decided to not put down money on it, unlike some Cardinals fans I know who are out of a few bucks now. I rejected the obvious idea of Bradford/McCoy/an injury prone offensive line killing the offense just as much as Mike McCoy slept-walked through his latest OC job even worse than his last trip in Denver.
I liked a healthy David Johnson being back for the team, not figuring that in a new offensive scheme he would take a step back and struggle to acquire burst and shake tackles in his return from missing the majority of 2017 with a broken wrist.
I liked what I saw from the defense in the preseason, and thought that Wilks’ goal of single gaps could help the defense get Chandler Jones rushing the passer more and adding more coverage for Patrick Peterson might actually be a benefit if Wilks could coach up a partner across from him.
I liked what I saw Mike McCoy run in training camp, featuring some 5-wide splits from David Johnson and Chase Edmonds (which was my biggest concern that he wouldn’t use him properly) including a play with Johnson catching a ball out of the backfield as a fullback...I had been warned about his lack of adapting too.
I liked the pick of Josh Rosen, but have been wrong on how ready he was in terms of handling a complex, difficult NFL offense without adequate coaching to help his footwork and in reading an NFL defense. And I thought that coaching wasn’t as important as long as you had a franchise quarterback.
I liked that Steve Keim seemed to own up to his mistakes in the offseason and quickly showed regret and didn’t estimate that there was a possibility that his own hypocrisy in finding men of “character” for his team might affect the team on a leadership level.
I bought into the idea that this coaching staff was going to “fix” the issues we saw last year under James Bettcher and Amos Jones and that a new voice might take a step forward, not a step back.
And ultimately I bought into the idea that Steve Wilks could be a leader of men and a good hire for the team after the hire got nothing but words of praise around the NFL for AZ not passing on a minority head coach that got the admiration of many when it was made official.
I can swallow my pride and admit to all of this, take it in and change the way I view evaluating now that I can look back and see the warning signs.
I can admit when I’m wrong.
And that very fact might instantly make me more qualified to be the Head Coach of the Arizona Cardinals than their current one in Steve Wilks.
Do I have the football requisite knowledge? Nope. Is a 26-year old self-professed drama geek going to be any sort of leader of grown men? Nada.
But unlike the same Steve Wilks that has preached the exact same message since Week 1 of the 2018 season as he did in Week 14, I’m at least willing to look in the mirror, admit when I’m wrong, and make a change.
Compare it to this interview at the start of the year....identical, no?
That’s the same rhetoric of placing blame on the players for his own mismanagement of the game. There’s no other way to say it. Cardinals fans know it. Even the players do too, I’d wager.
Ego’s always a factor in the NFL but rarely does it get so out of control that it gets in the way of winning.
Wilks himself even has had his philosophy and methods questioned and he’s even told media: “I know what you’re saying, but I’m not going to change it.”
Basically, he’s preferring to do things his way and keep losing rather than admit that his own philosophy is wrong.
To put it another way, if Wilks was the captain of the Titanic, he’s preferring to go down with his ship after it hits the iceberg saying “This ship is unsinkable” and will bring down as many women and children with it.
And for all the talk about him being “a good and decent man” or a “leader” no good captain will ever put himself over the rest of his crew, and in that regard I think we were probably wrong about Wilks the human being as well.
And being dishonest with yourself might be the most cowardly act of all....a new captain is needed if the passengers and crew are to be saved.
Does it mean mutiny? No, but it means that Wilks himself has disqualified himself from being the head coach of this team. I wish him the best moving forward as he and the Cardinals head toward an inevitable divorce, and hold him no ill will.
But perhaps this has been as valuable a learning lesson for Michael Bidwill, and probably Steve Keim, as it’s been for me in being a bit humbled as well.
Finding a flexible, humble head coach in practice, not just talk, will be exactly what this Cardinals team needs and they shouldn’t hire another to be their next head coach without it.
I’m just glad that won’t (nor shouldn’t) be someone like me.
I have enough of that humility at least for that, too. Just to be content to sit in the spectator seat of the high-stakes poker table that is the National Football League.
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