Rapid Reaction: Cardinals can’t close the deal against the Seahawks
Sep 30, 2018, 5:39 PM | Updated: Oct 1, 2018, 6:34 am
(AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
The Arizona Cardinals offense labored through Josh Rosen’s first career start, but still scored a season high 17 points, including Phil Dawson’s first field goal attempts of the season.
The problem was, he missed two of his three attempts.
Rosen managed the game well distributing the football to seven different receivers for 180 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions.
David Johnson recorded 112 total yards on 25 touches including one touchdown run, but it wasn’t enough.
Seahawks kicker Sebastian Janikowski hit a game-winning, 52-yard field goal as time expired giving Seattle a 20-17 lead leaving the Cardinals 0-4 to start the season.
Here are the rapid reactions from the 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station hosts.
Vince Marotta, co-host of Bickley & Marotta
A crucial third-down play right after the two-minute warning? What could go wrong?
It wasn’t a carbon copy of last week’s third-down decision that dominated our talk air waves, but it wasn’t much better either. Facing a 3rd-and-6 from the Seattle 27, the Cardinals ran David Johnson for a fourth consecutive play. Yes, he was on the field this time. No, he didn’t lose yardage this time. But no, he didn’t pick up the first down either as he was snowed under by Seattle’s Justin Coleman. The Cardinals settled for a 45-yard field goal attempt by Phil Dawson, who left it wide right and left the door wide open for the Seahawks.
With no timeouts at his disposal and 1:50 of game clock, Russell Wilson calmly took his team down the field and in position for a potential game-winner from Sebastian Janikowski, who had missed two earlier attempts. The third time was the charm as Janikowski connected from 52 yards with zeroes on the clock giving the visitors a 20-17 win – and running their unbeaten streak to six straight in Glendale.
Josh Rosen was solid in his starting debut, but didn’t get much help. The rookie’s stats should have been better — but a slew of drops by receivers, most notably long passes by Christian Kirk and J.J. Nelson – and more ultra-conservative play-calling by offensive coordinator Mike McCoy didn’t help.
The Cardinals are 0-4 for the first time since 1986, which pre-dates their arrival in the desert. With two road games looming, it might be a while before the number in the ‘W’ column changes, if it does at all in 2018.
Dave Burns, co-host of Burns & Gambo
Truth be told, my instant reaction to this game is to rave about Josh Rosen. To recognize that he could have had a hundred yards more if his receivers could just hold on to the ball. To admire the poise and the patience in the pocket and the fearlessness that was sorely lacking from the quarterback position the first three weeks. To express confidence in him moving forward and the future of the position here in Arizona.
But all of that ignores yet another frustrating afternoon of Cardinals football. One that has the Cardinals as the only winless team in football. They just lost to a team that went the whole game without a conversion on third down. Since moving to Arizona the Cardinals have never started a season 0-4.
It’s hard to get excited about the future when the present is so lousy.
The play calling at the end of the game was far too passive. Even if Phil Dawson makes the kick there is still nearly two minutes left on the clock and plenty of time for “Houdini in a Helmet” Russell Wilson to make a play or two and tie up the game. Too conservative. Too cautious. Anybody else missing the occasional biscuit? A fed-up fan base seems to have had enough of this offense and its coordinator.
Dawson has to make that kick. Forty-five yards. Indoors. Glad to see him stand up and take responsibility for it but I would have been much happier to see him make the kick.
The defense played pretty well. Seattle had 92 yards on their first two drives and only 239 the rest of the game. One of Seattle’s touchdowns came on a short field from a special teams penalty. Deone Bucannon found his way back on the field and Haason Reddick did as well.
Mostly the game, and now the rest of the season, is about Rosen. But it’s also about making certain — absolute certain — that the right offensive mind is there to guide him.
John Gambadoro, co-host of Burns & Gambo
I just for the life of me cannot understand the play calling again. Tie game, 7:11 left and Josh Rosen takes over from his own 24-yard line and drives the Cardinals down the field.
He hits David Johnson for 5 yards, then again for six yards, Ricky Seals-Jones for 21 yards, Christian Kirk for seven yards. And then on a 3rd and 1 the Cardinals — with the correct personnel on the field this time — convert with Johnson rushing for a two-yard gain. First and 10 at the Seattle 31 with 2:59 left and Seattle down to just one timeout. Pretty simple here — play aggressively. Gain one more first down to kill the clock and then play for the field goal. And that choice should have been easy based on the way Rosen was playing. You trusted him to start the fourth game of the season yet couldn’t trust him to throw a pass in the final three minutes?
So the Cardinals go run, run, run for a total of four yards leaving Phil Dawson with a long 45-yard attempt (which he should have made) but also leaving a very good quarterback in Russell Wilson plenty of time on the clock — 1:50 to be exact.
So even if Dawson had made the field goal — wrong call! Can’t leave all that time on the clock.
So two crucial mistakes. One playing conservative and not looking to get a field goal attempt inside of 40 yards. And two, leaving Wilson all the time in the world to drive his team down the field for the winning field goal.
This is the second week in a row we are complaining about coaching decisions. Offensive coordinator Mike McCoy, for some reason, decided on three runs when Rosen was primed to stick the dagger in the Seahawks. You took the ball out of your rookie’s hands and played to Seattle’s strength. The decisions by McCoy overshadowed the solid performance by Rosen who went 15-27 for 180 yards and a touchdown. But damn did he come close to having a solid performance be spectacular. Had Chad Williams got both feet down on what was called a touchdown catch then reversed. Had JJ Nelson not dropped a bomb that would have been an explosive play and possibly a 58-yard touchdown. Had Kirk not dropped a ball right in his bread basket. Had the usually reliable Larry Fitzgerald not dropped two balls. Had Seals-Jones not dropped an easy one. All of a sudden Rosen’s numbers would have have been somewhere around 21-27 for close to 300 yards with two touchdowns. Had that happened Rosen would be the talk of the NFL these next 24-48 hours. Instead, the Cards are 0-4 and Rosen will have to wait to get the accolades that seem inevitable with all of his talent.
Doug Franz, co-host of Doug & Wolf
THE GAME: I hate any strategy that thinks settling for a field goal attempt is a plan. I have no idea if Arizona would have scored a touchdown but Seattle didn’t stop Arizona’s last drive, Steve Wilks did.
ROSEN: The first thing he proved is what a lot of people asked in the off-season, why give Sam Bradford all that money. He was clearly a major part of the problem.
Rosen did so many things well. Of course, there were a lot of mistakes but nothing alarming. The most impressive thing was how well he did without getting into a rhythm. His receivers were such a major let down, it’s impossible to assume how good he could have been.
The goal for next week is a slight improvement on accuracy to increase yards after the catch. Clearly, he has to throw a perfect ball so it will, almost, catch itself. His throws weren’t inaccurate but a small tweak could go a long way to help an anemic offense.
Kellan Olson, reporter and editor
The discussion will swirl around Mike McCoy’s play-calling late, but the most notable story from the Cardinals’ loss was them looking competent in some areas.
Arizona had good quarterback play and were actually able to establish David Johnson and the running game.
But, the defense still has question marks, like Seattle’s 171 yards on the ground, and the pass-catchers need to do their job.
That was the difference between a win and a loss, but the Cardinals looked like a legitimate football team on Sunday, which is progress.
Luke Lapinski, host and reporter
It’s tough to find a lot of bright spots with an 0-4 start. Particularly when three of those games have been at home, and at least two of them were against teams that look pretty beatable.
That said, there were improvements on Sunday. Josh Rosen looks legit so far, and his positive attitude is refreshing in what could quickly become a pretty depressing environment here if some wins don’t start showing up soon.
He threw for 180 yards, probably should’ve had about 100 more if the guys he was throwing to weren’t dropping passes they usually catch, didn’t get discouraged by those drops, didn’t turn the ball over and gave Arizona a real chance to win. For the first time in 2018, this team looked more like the 2017 Cardinals. Not the ultimate goal, of course, but better than what we’ve been seeing.
Problem is, they ultimately ended up looking like the 2016 Cardinals when Phil Dawson pushed a kick wide with a chance to win late — his second miss of the game. The last thing this team needs right now is special teams headaches.
David Johnson went over 100 total yards (his previous high this season was 67) and got into the end zone, and the defense was 10-for-10 in getting the Seahawks off the field on third down. There were missed tackles, some bad penalties and they gave up 171 rushing yards to a Seattle team that was missing their No. 1 back but, overall, the defense held an offense led by Russell Wilson to 20 points. In today’s NFL, that’s usually enough to win. And it’s the second week in a row they’ve done that.
So yeah, there are some bright spots. But, at the end of the day, a team with far too much talent to be 0-4 is, in fact, 0-4. And it’s the first time they’ve done that since arriving in Arizona in the 80’s.
Kevin Zimmerman, reporter and editor
Turns out the last guy we should be worrying about is Josh Rosen. The rookie quarterback not only looked ready for the bright lights — he was the one trying to pick up his veteran teammates when they dropped balls, and he was the one putting together a fourth-quarter rally to try to will the Cardinals to victory.
The Cardinals showed that the offense opens up quite a bit under offensive coordinator Mike McCoy when its quarterback has that kind of arm talent.
But when the quarterback was at his best late in the fourth quarter, the play-calling went away from Rosen on the final Arizona drive, instead opting to feed David Johnson, who admitted to making a missed read on the third-down play that set up a Phil Dawson missed field goal. A week after the coaching staff took flak for not having Johnson on the field at all, it sets up a further narrative that even though Arizona finally bested Seattle in the third-down conversion realm, the mix of late-game decision-making and sound football playing will remain elusive for the Cardinals.
Jordan Byrd, producer of Burns & Gambo and host of Arizona Sports Saturday
The future is here, and Josh Rosen did nothing to dampen my enthusiasm for what it may hold. His numbers weren’t anything special, but the difference between the rookie quarterback and Sam Bradford were obvious. He spent more time in the pocket, allowing receivers to get open, and his accuracy was far better than what we’ve seen the previous three weeks from Bradford. Rosen’s biggest issue of the day was receivers that couldn’t hold onto some perfectly placed passes. Christian Kirk and JJ Nelson dropped some easy balls that not only would have made Rosen’s stat line look better, but also would have provided a lift to an offense that desperately needs it.
My issue still resides with the play calling decisions. I understand the Cardinals were already in field goal range when they ran the ball on 3rd down under the two-minute warning, but a first down there wouldn’t have iced the game. Even if Phil Dawson had made the field goal, there still would have been enough time for Seattle to tie the game or possibly even take the lead.
The Cardinals needed to be more aggressive on that 3rd down and to me that all comes down to Mike McCoy. Even with an upgrade at quarterback, this offense is still pedestrian and simple. David Johnson showed some life Sunday but the overall offensive game plan still feels average and uninspired. Even as Rosen improves, McCoy’s status as offensive coordinator should be under consideration.