The Arizona Cardinals suffered an embarrassing loss to the Washington Redskins in their regular season opener. Doubt is creeping in the air as people now wonder if Steve Wilks was the right man for the job.
But let’s hold our horses right there for a second.
Let’s not lose hope for the season. Keep in mind Steve Wilks was a defensive coordinator for only one season with the Carolina Panthers and this past weekend was his first game as the Cardinals’ head coach.
Wilks should not receive all of the blame as the offensive line couldn’t even keep Bradford upright. According to Pro Football Focus, their offensive line allowed 17 pressures in week one which is good enough for fourth-most in the NFL. The Cardinals were able to run the ball effectively when they did, but had to move away from the run game when their deficit grew.
Mike McCoy drew up a game plan that was too conservative and Sam Bradford could not execute his plays. McCoy did not want to show any of his plays during the preseason and Bradford was limited during that time as well. When this happens, players will be out of sync and there will be confusion. Players will struggle and it was evident this past weekend.
The problem with Bradford was that he seemed to play scared. He looked like a player that wanted to avoid injury at all costs. Balls were thrown too early, or too late, and his accuracy was not there. I am not football expert but take some more shots down the field early. Get the adrenaline of your team going.
In addition to this, the struggles of drops in the preseason carried into week one. David Johnson, Ricky Seals-Jones, and Christian Kirk dropped passes. Coaches can’t teach players how to catch. It is the receivers’ job to know how to do it.
Deone Bucannon and Jamar Taylor didn’t play well at all. Undersized linebackers are wiped out by running backs and offensive linemen. The cornerback position opposite Patrick Peterson could be open for competition again.
But there are some good things to take away from the loss (stats from PFF):
- Mason Cole allowed only one pressure
- Josh Bynes’ 90.4 run defense grade was best among linebackers in week one (allowed one catch)
- Robert Nkemdiche had one sack and generated a couple pressures.
- Andy Lee averaged 52.6 yards per kick
Fitzgerald dropped one pass but he was effective as a blocker and receiver for most of the game. Special teams looks much improved compared to the units in the Bruce Arians’ era. This team has the talent and playmakers to succeed. It is way too early to throw in the towel on the season when it only just begun.
The Arizona Cardinals can be special. There are still 15 games left in the season and plenty of time to bounce back.