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Rapid Reactions: Cardinals get shut out by Rams in Week 2

Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (11) leaves the field after their 34-0 loss against the Los Angeles Rams during an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 16, 2018, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

The first two weeks of the Steve Wilks era have not gone as planned.

After falling 24-6 to the Washington Redskins at home, the Arizona Cardinals were thoroughly defeated by the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday.

The Cardinals could not muster an ounce of offense in a 34-0 defeat.

Here are the rapid reactions from the 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station staff.

Vince Marotta, co-host of Bickley & Marotta

Buffalo defensive back Vontae Davis shocked the football world by deciding he’d had enough. With his team trailing 28-6 at halftime, Davis put on his street clothes and announced his retirement, slipping out of the stadium.

Well, I should correct that and say not the whole football world was shocked. Fans of the Arizona Cardinals likely also quit at halftime Sunday– and understandably so.

For the second straight week, the Cardinals were dominated in all phases of the game, this time in a 34-0 loss to the Los Angeles Rams at the L.A. Coliseum.

The Cardinals provided one highlight – a Patrick Peterson interception when the team was already down 19-0 in the second half. Undeterred by the whooping being administered, Peterson and his teammates posed for effect. It was embarrassing.

In fact, that’s a good way to define the first two games of the Steve Wilks coaching era. His team is predictable on offense, generous on defense and special teams and appears completely non-competitive. Wilks was shaken by a season-opening blowout to Washington and promised widespread improvement. We saw none.

Let’s start with the offense. The common refrain from pundits was that if Sam Bradford is healthy, he’s a good quarterback who can win some games. Well, either Bradford isn’t healthy or we were all lied to. He looks jittery in the pocket and remains inaccurate. If this is the Bradford we’re going to see, it’s foolish and fruitless to leave him behind center when the quarterback of the franchise’s future, Josh Rosen, is waiting.

The play calling has been curious and ultra-conservative.

The defense, which switched to a 4-3 and features a lot of zone, has been soft. Jamar Taylor, the latest candidate to fill the cornerback gap opposite of Patrick Peterson, has been a disaster through two weeks. The linebackers, a reason for concern going into the season, have been absent.

Many members of the Cardinals said that they wouldn’t be defined by one game. Well, one game is now two, and as unbelievable as it seems, Arizona took a major step backward in Week 2.

Kevin Zimmerman, reporter and editor

Of the many problems that have plagued the Arizona Cardinals through two games, it’s the trends that make two bad losses look concerning beyond their final scores.

The middle of the defensive zone has remained soft. Penalties at key points have kept opponent drives alive. And offensively, there’s been little creativity or production.

Those trends are on the coaching staff. Arizona can talk fundamentals all it wants, but when the play calls and schemes try the same thing over and over and over, and when those things don’t work, it means the Cardinals haven’t been able to identity their flaws. If they have, they haven’t showed any insight as to how they will hide them.

It’s most apparent offensively, where Sam Bradford has struggled to complete short screen passes, let alone attempted more than a handful of downfield shots. That’s concerning. Defenses know that, good Arizona offensive line play or not, the Cardinals aren’t looking to stretch the field. That makes it easy to load the box and stop David Johnson. And when Arizona inevitably falls behind, then it’s cake to stop an anemic passing attack.

Is it on Bradford, whose arm strength (forget accuracy) looks shot? No, he is what he is. Is it on a receiving group whose No. 2 option going into the year, Chad Williams, has yet to make a catch? Nope.

It’s on the coaches to make due with whatever they’re given. Even if you think they’ve been given a roster without talent, they need to make big schematic adjustments on both sides of the ball to put their players in better positions to succeed.

Kellan Olson, reporter and editor

It sure seems like the Cardinals have screwed up the replacements for Carson Palmer and Bruce Arians.

Sam Bradford’s performances have shown a quarterback who has lost a step (or six) that has no chance to establish the rhythm of an offense. His arm strength is a problem.

Steve Wilks’ defensive pedigree has hardly carried over to a talented group, and the combination of penalties and mental errors through two games suggest a poorly coached team.

Worst of all, those factors have kept the team’s best player David Johnson from getting in the flow of game. Johnson, by the way, had one catch for three yards against the Rams. That is unacceptable.

It’s hard to pull off this transition in two games, but the Cardinals went from a team that had loads of local optimism surrounding it to undoubtedly one of the three worst teams in the NFL.

Dave Burns, co-host of Burns & Gambo

The national pundits, the experts who thought this was a four- or five-win team, look like they’re right on the money.

Most of the summer the locals looked at those national projections and were perplexed. Something along the lines of “don’t they know this team won eight games last year with no David Johnson, a banged up offensive line and the QB duo of Blaine Gabbert and Drew Stanton?” Sounds like something I said a time or two (though I did have them going 6-10).

Through two games the Cards have been outscored by 52 points. Only the Bills are worse at 55 points. The lack of competitiveness has been brutal and the national predictions have been completely justified so far.

A couple other quick hits:

– The only Josh Rosen sighting we had on Sunday was a sideline shot of him ripping off a giant yawn. Don’t know how much longer they can avoid playing him but the one reason not to is a good one. If you were worried about Donald and Suh crushing him this week you might have the same reservations next week against Mack and the Bears. Other than that the Cards are out of reasons to keep sitting him. But if it’s truly about putting the “best guys on the field” as coach Wilks said after the game it’s hard to believe that that is Sam Bradford right now. ​I’ll buy the excuse for one more week. After that, take the kid out of bubble wrap and play him.

– Is it a lack of ability or a lack of willingness to open up the throttle on this risk-averse offense? Is Bradford covering up his own flaws or is Mike McCoy doing it for him?

– One sequence that highlighted how conservative things are. Late second quarter, after a penalty the Cards have a 1st and 20 at their 29. First down, David Johnson runs for a yard. Second down, a David Johnson run for four. Now it’s third and forever and there is no shot of converting. What’s a guy gotta do to get a biscuit around here anyway?

– The Rams have outscored the Cardinals 99-16 in their last three games. We knew this wouldn’t be easy. But other than slightly better play out of the defense in the first half there was no evidence that anything got any better from Week 1. Washington getting beat by the Colts at home didn’t help.

John Gambadoro, co-host of Burns & Gambo

Wow.

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse, the Cardinals put up a stinker of epic proportions against the division rival Rams in an embarrassing performance.

There was no sign of life from the offense. Like, none.

Sam Bradford refuses to throw the ball down the field — he averaged a unconscionable 3.3 yards per attempt. And that wouldn’t be too bad if he was his normal accurate self, but he missed in 10 of 27 passes and was picked off.

The question now is whose fault is this mess? Bradford? Offensive coordinator Mike McCoy? Maybe now we know why they ran him out of Denver last year.

Or is the ineptitude on the wide receiving corps, which got zero from Chad Williams and J.J. Nelson and just 27 yards from Christian Kirk and 28 from Fitz?

Calls for Josh Rosen from the fan base have started and you have to believe those discussions are happening within the Cards brass.

Doug Franz, co-host ofDoug & Wolf

The worst performance in professional football history was the Redskins losing 73-0 in the 1940 NFL Championship game. I’m sure there are plenty of candidates for the second worst performance, but this game has to be in the top 10.

It took 59 minutes for Arizona to cross the 50.

Last week, the Cardinals lost every aspect of the game of football except punting. This week the Cardinals’ punting was exceptional but Arizona’s Andy Lee averaged 50 yards per punt while John Hekker averaged 51 yards for the Rams. Unfortunately, the Cardinals can’t claim victory in any situation.

The Cardinals had over 400 yards … in punts.

The one thing I don’t understand is why Rosen didn’t play in the fourth quarter. There is no quarterback controversy. Bradford should not be benched. Rosen shouldn’t have played just to “shake things up.” Rosen should have played because you’re down by four possessions in the fourth quarter!

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