The Arizona Cardinals had high hopes for the 2018 season, with a new head coach (Steve Wilks), new coaching staff, and a new quarterback (Sam Bradford). But the season is off to a rough start, having lost the first two games and scoring only six points within that time. They currently have the worst offense in the NFL, ranking at the bottom of basically every statistical offensive category.
Now Wilks wants OC Mike McCoy to scale back his playbook so that the Cardinals can think less but do more. The learning curve of any playbook can be steep and the struggles are understandable. But the Cardinals are struggling more than they ever had. I, personally, have never seen a team that is as dysfunctional as the 2018 Cardinals.
Here’s what Steve Wilks said of Sam Bradford on Monday after the 34-0 loss to the Rams:
“I think Sam is doing well,” said Wilks. “Is he inconsistent? Yes. Does he need to be a little more accurate? Yes. But that’s not just Sam. We need to be able to get a little more protection, he needs a little bit more time to go through his progression.”
First off, Sam Bradford is not playing well. He completed 37 of 61 passes for 243 yards and two interceptions in two games. His average of four yards per pass is the lowest among all starting quarterbacks. Wilks is not wrong when he says that not all the blame can go on Bradford. He has only been sacked three times but that’s because he releases the ball too early for pass rushers to get to him. Plus, he makes too many check down throws without going through his progressions. Most of his passes are going for three or four yards beyond the line of scrimmage and even with better protection, that will not win teams many games.
Why not give Josh Rosen a shot? Bradford has already shown what he can do. Rosen will give Cardinals fans something to look forward to and getting him some regular season reps will help.
The under-utilization of David Johnson is one of the biggest problems with the team. A guy of his talent and skill set should be involved more. Mike McCoy is in charge of the offense but Wilks oversees the team as the head coach. If the Cardinals best playmaker isn’t being utilized, the fault would be on both Wilks and McCoy. Maybe that’s why they’re losing games. Bad schemes and poor preparation. The blame for the struggles would start up front with the coaching staff.
The idea of being content and confident with the current group of wide receivers is concerning. Chad Williams, J.J. Nelson, and Trent Sherfield have not caught a pass yet. That is three out of five of the receivers on their roster. Larry Fitzgerald and Christian Kirk are the only receivers on the roster that have caught passes this season. How much longer will Wilks be happy with his current group of receivers?
It wasn’t too long ago when Wilks said that the Cardinals are retooling and not rebuilding. This certainly looks like a rebuild now. He also said that the defense is the strength of this team and he wouldn’t fix what isn’t broken. But he changed the defense to a 4-3 from a 3-4 anyways.
As for Steve Keim, he drafted Jonathan Cooper, Deone Bucannon, D.J. Humphries, Robert Nkemdiche, Haason Reddick, and Josh Rosen in the first round. Bucannon, Humphries, and Reddick are struggling this season. Robert Nkemdiche looks like he’s turning his career around but his production is still far from where the team expected him to be. Rosen’s time as the quarterback of the future will come and Cooper is out of the NFL. Five out of Keim’s six first round picks are playing like busts.
Keeping Mike McCoy and Sam Bradford as the starter will either help Wilks or get him fired after the 2018 season. The offense needs to show signs of life and Wilks has to coach this team to a victory. He’s an inexperienced coach and it shows with the production of the team. Keim has yet to have a successful draft since 2015, where David Johnson and Markus Golden shined in the spotlight. It’s about what-you-have-done-for-me-lately league and Keim/Wilks have struggled to get this team back into playoff contention.
This Sunday, the Cardinals are taking on the Chicago Bears in what could be the most important game of their season. A Cardinals win will boost the confidence of the team moving forward and gives the team something to build off of. A loss, even with 13 games remaining in the season, will put the Cardinals at 0-3 crushing their playoff hopes and their season. If the same ineffective offense and defense shows up again, even bigger changes to the team will come.