Trust. Trust. Trust.
Bruce Arians called it his number one priority---and yet he pointed fingers at his players the way no other Cardinals’ head coach ever did.
Steve Wilks calls it his number one priority.
I believe him and I believe in him.
However, Wilks has major work to do. He needs to raze the old foundation and cement a new, sturdier one.
In recent days, Wilks has watched on as his star running back was nowhere to be found during the team’s mandatory mini-camp, his GM Steve Keim was arrested on a DUI charge and the owner and team president Michael Bidwill came under fire for his support of prep-school pal Brett Kavanaugh’s SCOTUS nomination.
Trust is the belief that the people you surround yourself with will make good decisions that are in the best interests of the team.
As the NFL heads into the 2018 pre-season, there looms the issue of what the players will do with regard to the national anthem. By and large, the players do not trust Roger Goodell.
Right off the bat, Steve Wilks finds himself in a precarious position. As an African-American, Wilks certainly understands why African-American players were kneeling or sitting during the national anthem. Stringent efforts have been made by the NFL and even the POTUS to silence and ostracize players who peacefully protest the racial injustice that continues to be the scourge of a country built on the premise that “all men are created equal.”
I believe that the NFLPA will ensure that whatever the players decide to do with regard to the anthem, they will do in unison. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if the players decide to stay as a team in the locker room during the anthem.
Thus, Steve Wilks has to support his players, not only because he wants and needs to establish their trust in him and his staff, but as one of only six African-American head coaches in the NFL, he has a unique platform during these trying times.
I believe that the Cardinals’ players will place their trust in Steve Wilks. Steve Wilks is about as sturdy and reliable a role model as one could find in the NFL coaching circles. Wilks is asking his players to work as hard each day---just as he does. He is promising them that he and his coaches will embrace a diversity of personalities all for the common good of becoming a tough, united and highly motivated team.
That said, it should be very interesting to see whether Wilks can count on the trust of several of the Cardinals veterans whose commitment to playing hard each snap and each game has been heretofore in question.
Some fans are jaded by the thought that wow the Cardinals at their worst the last two years still managed to go 15-16-1. That record is a mirage is as wet as the one on the corner of Winslow. The fact of the matter is that in games that mattered toward the Cardinals making the playoffs, they went 9-16-1. During that span, in 1 PM EDT starts they went 1-10 and were outscored 186-323. That’s 16.9 to 29.1 points per game, which is why it’s another folly to believe the Cardinals had a top 5 defense the last two years.
Simply put, we as Cardinals’ fans could not trust that the team would show up from week to week.
Steve Wilks is trying to change that.
Already, Wilks is having the team practice early in the morning and having the players battle through the heat. Say goodbye to “Camp Cupcake.” And say goodbye to “Win or Lose, We Booze.”
Wilks clearly understands that he has to change the country club atmosphere in Arizona. Wilks’ efforts will likely be met with some resistance by a cadre of veterans who still feel they are entitled to special accommodations. As a result, Wilks may have to weed out some of the resisters.
However, one of the best things Wilks already has going for him is having WR Larry Fitzgerald as the exemplar. Yes, Larry loves his golf on his own time. But, Fitz knows how to flip the switch into football mode and all of the hard work, sacrifice, teamwork and dedication it entails.
At the conclusion of the mandatory mini-camp, Wilks placed his trust in the players so much so that he had them hold on to their playbook tablets and told the players that he fully expects then to come into training camp in the best possible shape and in full command of the playbook.
In two weeks, Wilks will begin to see which players can be trusted and which ones cannot. Wilks will then be able to start to separate the contenders from the pretenders.