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Cardinals at 0-3 Morning After Notes

NFL: Chicago Bears at Arizona Cardinals Arizona Republic-USA TODAY Sports
  • Did anyone see any even small signs of misdirection in the Cardinals’ offense yesterday? The closest thing to it was J.J. Nelson going in motion and posing the threat of a jet sweep—-but—-even that threat was wiped out when when they snapped the ball with Nelson already 2-3 steps past the QB.
  • What’s curious about Mike McCoy—-has anyone heard a former player of his tout his coaching ability? Perhaps added proof of this is the fact that despite being the head coach of the Chargers and the OC of the Broncos the past 4 years—-McCoy did not attract one former player of his to the Cardinals via free agency—-and the irony is that the one former player he drafted and coached, C/G Max Tuerk, was cut before OTAs.
  • Conversely, many former players like Josh Norman have raved about Steve Wilks and Wilks has attracted a host of former players such as Bene Benwikere, Tre Boston, Lou Young, Zach Moore, Jeremy Cash, Blaine Clausell, etc.
  • Speaking of Tre Boston, while he is at times playing a little too amped and out of control, he is starting to create a D.J. Swearinger type of presence over the middle. Boston brings a physicality and a level of anticipation to the free safety position that, when well harnessed, can help the team win.
  • Speaking of Bene Benwikere—-he played his best game to date as a Cardinal. He and Budda Baker combined on that superb 1st quarter sack of Trubusky that led to the Bears’ missed FG. Then Bene defended the deep pass to Tyler Gabriel well and made a few other good plays. He came in at RCB for Jamar Taylor who seemed to be having his best game as a Cardinal.
  • Speaking of Budda Baker—-what a superb performance the Cardinals got from him yesterday. He is playing fast and confidently.
  • Imagine what the Cardinals could have done with the $16M they have paid QB Sam Bradford and the $8.7M they elected to pay LB Deone Bucannon this year when they picked up his 5th year option. That is close to $25M which could have been spent on the offensive line, the WR position, the TE position and the LB position.
  • Speaking of the offensive line—-how about the commendable play of RT John Wetzel. Aside from his one false start, he was so effective on Khalil Mack that they moved Mack over to RDE, where unfortunately Mack beat LT D.J. Humphries and G Mike Iupati repeatedly. Iupati is clearly struggling and perhaps waiver wire pickup G Jeremy Vujnovich—-who started all 16 games at LG for the Colts last year—-could be an upgrade. Iupati is getting out-quicked up the middle on twists and TEX stunts. The main thing all of the linemen can improve—-sustaining blocks—-there were times they could have made a greater effort to maintain contact with Mack, but they let him slip off too easily and didn’t do a good job chasing him.
  • Kudos to C Mason Cole who is providing steady play and leadership.
  • Kudos as well to RB David Johnson for taking the romance out of the LB blitz—-after conceding to the FOX crew that he needed to step up his pass pro—-and then for hopping on Bradford’s first fumble which could have put the Bears inside the Cardinals 10 yard line. The Cardinals need more hustle plays like the ones the got from Johnson.
  • It was good to see the Cardinals use FB Derrick Coleman for a series and he had a nice catch and RAC—-but again—-it’s only a cameo appearance for a FB in the Cardinals’ offense—-an offense that with the lead for most of the game only ran David Johnson 12 times and not with the game on the line on 3rd and 2.
  • As for the defensive line—-they miss Olsen Pierre, no doubt, but Nkemdiche, Peters and Gunter played well versus the Bears. Jones, Golden and Mayowa too—-although Wilks’ defense still has contain issues that have yet to be hammered out. Golden, a couple of times, showed a semblance of his normal explosion off the edge. He said he was on a snap count, but he felt very good and he’s sure that the players and the coaches are going to fix things well in the days and weeks ahead. Gotta love Golden’s attitude and head’s-up approach.
  • Other reasons why McCoy should go—-(1) egregious misuse of RB David Johnson; (2) little to no sign of using Fitz on his two bread and butter routes, the skinny post and the fade; (3) little to no creativity or imagination in the play calls; (4) poor, stagnant QB play from Bradford; (5) poor assimilation of WRs Chad Williams and J.J. Nelson into the offense—-which has become very WR and RB unfriendly under McCoy's lack of leadership.
  • McCoy gets a lot of credit for what he did with Tim Tebow—-but if you go back and look at Tebow’s games, he and the Broncos’ offense were utterly listless (like we have seen from the Cardinals the past 3 weeks) for 3 12 quarters until Tebow got to go in a hurry-up where he then used his legs to extend drives.
  • Josh Allen struggled in his first action for the Bills—-but once he started getting the 1st team reps in practice he has showed steady improvement, this week to the tune of outplaying the richest QB in NFL history (Cousins) on Cousin’s home field. This is what we can hope for from Josh Rosen when he is given the starter’s reps in practice and the chance to build some momentum and confidence.
  • I liked what Rosen had to say after the game—-he’s always self-critical, but he also was honest enough to say that he felt “content” about getting his first taste of a real NFL game.
  • At the same time—-it seemed like such a colossal waste of the pre-season to sit Rosen for the last two games. It certainly didn’t help him yesterday that he hadn't taken a snap in a live situation since week 2 of the pre-season (over 5 weeks). Steve Wilks has kept Rosen in bubble wrap the whole time, but finally the wrap came off yesterday and hopefully it is off for good.
  • Rookie defensive oriented head coaches often have a difficult time handling QBs their first time around—-they tend to play things too cautiously, as Wilks has to date. With making the bold move to put Rosen in the game with 4 minutes left, Wilks is taking the kid gloves off the rookie. The best QBs are the hungriest and toughest at their position. Treating them with kid gloves is a mistake. Feeding their hunger and rewarding them for their toughness are the best ways to ensure their development.