Although it was only two weeks ago, the upset win in Green Bay seems like a distant memory. We followed it up with an ineffectual dud of a performance at home against the Lions, and, now, an utterly disgraceful display on the road in Atlanta. There are only two games left in the season, but if this is the kind of football we’re going to see from here on out, the offseason can’t come soon enough.
That said, let’s sift through the wreckage and identify some winners and losers from today’s southern-style butt whuppin’.
WR Larry Fitzgerald
No, he didn’t set any records or score a touchdown, and his solid-not-spectacular line of 7 receptions for 82 yards will soon be forgotten, but this was a quintessential Fitz game in some ways. Fitz will always be remembered as a guy who suits up and gives it his all no matter what the scoreboard or standings say. He kept hustling even when we were down 30, getting 3 receptions for 54 yards in the 4th quarter, including a 4th-down conversion on a meaningless touchdown drive. It’s been a pleasure to watch Fitz do his thing, even if the rest of the team has been a disaster. It’s just such a shame that this is happening in what is likely his final season.
QB Mike Glennon
Steve Wilks finally did the sensible thing and put in Daddy Longneck at the end of a blowout (which he had failed to do against the Broncos and Chargers). And, yeah, the Falcons probably weren’t giving it their all up 40-7, but Glennon easily outplayed Josh Rosen, going 10/14 for 11 yards and a TD to Trent Sherfield. No, there won’t be a QB controversy, as Wilks has already said Rosen will be back out there next week, but Glennon’s performance was a reminder that he can be a competent NFL QB, which should help increase his trade value if we look to move him for a draft pick this offseason (as we should).
P Andy Lee
Our punter has consistently been one of our best players this year, which tells you everything you need to know about the 2018 Arizona Cardinals. Today’s game was no different, as Lee boomed 7 punts for 336 yards (48.0 average), landing two of them inside the 20 (and no touchbacks). It ultimately didn’t matter, as the Falcons were able to score no matter what their starting field position was, but Lee’s performance shouldn’t go unappreciated. Alas, the guy who leads the league in gross punting average doesn’t seem to be garnering much Pro Bowl support even though you could easily argue that he’s our most Pro Bowl-worthy player.
2019 Draft Position
The San Francisco 49ers have been good to the Cardinals in 2018. Not only did they gift us with two of our three wins, but their overtime win over the Seahawks this afternoon put the Cardinals at the top of the 2019 NFL draft standings. If we lose our final two games (home versus the Rams, on the road against those Seahawks), we’ll officially be on the draft clock. Time to start reading scouting reports, watching game film, and doing those mock drafts.
Once again, Cardinals fans spent their Sunday watching a completely disinterested and thoroughly uninteresting team put up a stinker. This was our eight loss by double digits, and our fourth by 20+ points. If the team was at least entertaining or seemed like they were giving it their best effort, things wouldn’t seem so bad. But they’re not and they don’t. I’m sure most RotB readers have watched every game, but if you happened to skip today’s game, no one would blame you.
QB Josh Rosen
Our rookie QB once again makes the loser’s list for three reasons:
- His on-field performance. He was a miserable 13/22 for 132 yards, with a fumble lost and 2 INTs. His first pick was his fourth(!) pick-six of the year. He flat-out stunk today, as he has most of the season. There’s really no other way to put it.
- The benching. Like I said above, it was the right move to make given the score and the beating he was taking (6 sacks), but it’s still not a good look.
- The fact that he never really had a chance. Yes, he played poorly, and, yes, he got benched, but the worst thing of all is that Rosen simply hasn’t been put in a position to succeed this year. He’s been coached by an inept staff, surrounded by subpar talent at the skill positions, and victimized by perhaps the worst offensive line situation in all of football. We may not find out what Rosen really has until 2019.
The Offensive Line
Obviously, the O-line is down to spare parts—rookies, practice squad guys, and street free agents. Today’s ghastly showing wasn’t really the players’ faults (see below). But still, the blocking was brutal in both the passing and running games—7 sacks given up, 2.7 YPC on the ground. Not to mention the four penalties. This line showed some promise last week, but things went about as badly as they could this week. NFL sack leader Aaron Donald and Co. await in Week 16.
As bad as the O-line played today, the defense was even worse—which is all the more discouraging given the talent disparity between the two units. The O-line is spare parts; the defense has several Pro Bowl-caliber players. Patrick Peterson was routinely beaten by Julio Jones, Budda Baker was pedestrian, and Chandler Jones was a ghost. The whole unit was manhandled all day by the league’s worst rushing attack—they gave up 215 yards on the ground to a team that had averaged 81 on the season. And Matt Ryan didn’t have much more difficulty through the air (22/36 for 231 yards and 2 TDs). Just a pitiful effort all around. This one’s on the players.
The Coaching Staff
That’s not to give the coaching staff any kind of a pass. This team was unprepared, uncoordinated, and undisciplined (8 penalties accepted, with another couple that were declined). Byron Leftwich’s offense once again failed to gain 300 total yards or top 20 points—numbers that should be a given in the NFL in 2018. And this was against a defense that was bottom-10 in both yards and scoring. OL coach Ray Brown didn’t have much to work with, but the team needed better results than it got up front today. We discussed the defense above, and if this were any earlier in the season you might expect Al Holcomb to be fired tomorrow (although it’s all but inevitable by the end of the season anyway). And it all starts with Steve Wilks, who once again ordered a punt near midfield down multiple scores. At least he accepted the blame this time instead of passing it on to the players. But it’s probably too little, much too late for him.
GM Steve Keim
Of course, you can lay everything that went wrong about this game—and this season—at the feet of our embattled GM. He hired the coaches and drafted/signed the players; he’s the architect of this collapsing house of Cards. Even before today’s game, rumors had started to swirl that owner Michael Bidwill was considering big changes after the season. Expect those murmurs to rise to a thundering chorus in the coming days. Barring a miracle, Cardinals fans might get what they’ve been clamoring for for months—a new regime in charge of the team for 2019. (Christmas is a week from Tuesday... just saying.)
Two more weeks. Just two more weeks and we can stop watching the worst team in the league routinely ruin our Sundays. Talking about trades, free agency, and the draft—not to mention a likely search for a new GM and coach—will be infinitely more entertaining than this football team has been.
So, do you have any thoughts on today’s game, Redbirds fans? Or are you already in offseason mode? Let us know where you’re at with this team in the comments.