Rapid Reactions: Wilks, Cardinals take home first win of season
Oct 7, 2018, 5:38 PM | Updated: Oct 8, 2018, 7:10 am
(AP Photo/Ben Margot)
The Arizona Cardinals and Steve Wilks earned their first win of the season on Sunday, taking down the San Francisco 49ers 28-18.
The defense dictated much of the game as they accumulated five takeaways and four sacks over the course of four quarters.
Here are the rapid reactions from the 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station staff:
Doug Franz, co-host of Doug & Wolf
It’s a win.
Chandler Jones looked like one of the best players in the NFL. The first offensive play was epic. The defense was tremendous considering the 40 minutes it spent on the field.
The problem is there are so many negatives, it’s amazing the start to this blog was, “It’s a win.”
The Arizona Cardinals beat a team on their second quarterback, third running back and myriad other injuries that make the 49ers unqualified to be considered an NFL team. Arizona’s dropped passes epidemic seems to have no cure. Josh Rosen showed his usual poise but also showed an unusual lack of accuracy. Mike McCoy insists on using game plans that are high in predictability and low on Larry Fitzgerald and David Johnson.
Winning is always better than losing, but there’s a long way to go to be a winner.
Kellan Olson, ArizonaSports.com editor and reporter
The bad, oh the bad, was still very much present for the Cardinals despite picking up their first win of the year.
There were plenty of drops by the pass-catchers and bad throws by the quarterback on offense to go with poor playcalling and misuse of David Johnson.
Twenty-one points off turnovers was Arizona’s saving grace, along with one good play on offense for a Chrsitan Kirk touchdown.
The 49ers without their starting quarterback, running back and best wide receiver somehow nearly got the win still.
Hopefully Josh Rosen figures out the overthrows and the playcalling improves or else it’s going to be a long, long year.
Vince Marotta, co-host of Bickley & Marotta
Are the Cardinals going to need to force five turnovers to win games?
They did it in the preseason in their three rehearsal wins. They did it again on Sunday in Santa Clara in beating the 49ers.
You have to feel happy for Steve Wilks, who got his first win, but this is a victory that might temporarily mask some big issues this football team still has. Offensively, where do I start? Arizona got 75 yards on its first play, then only 145 on the next 48. There is zero running room for David Johnson, who remains under-utilized as a pass catching threat. Receivers are still dropping balls. Third-down conversions are few and far between.
Defensively, the Cardinals are still yielding way too much yardage – 447 on the day. Teams are running with success and if C.J. Beathard can throw for 349 yards on you, imagine what a good quarterback can do.
Individually, Chandler Jones was amazing – six tackles, a sack, two tackles for loss, two quarterback hits, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery, a pass breakup (and another on a two-point conversion). He’ll be a strong candidate for NFC Defensive Player of the Week. Josh Bynes, Antoine Bethea, Budda Baker, Haason Reddick and Tre Boston all shined.
Is this something to build on? Perhaps, but my biggest takeaway through five weeks is the myriad challenges this offensive unit faces.
Kevin Zimmerman, ArizonaSports.com editor and reporter
There are several layers to digest with the Cardinals’ first victory. Let’s start with the obvious: winning is big-time for coach Steve Wilks and staff, who couldn’t afford another week standing in front of a locker room and preaching the same things that they had before four straight losses to start the year. It will help with continued buy-in.
But beyond that, there are concerns. The defense that forced five turnovers did so against a 49ers team decimated by injuries heading into Sunday. Facing a quarterback who didn’t threaten downfield in C.J. Beathard, Arizona survived bending but not breaking. But what if San Francisco running back Matt Breida hadn’t gone done early in the game with an injury? The shifty back was dicing the Cardinals running the ball and catching screen passes, and Arizona didn’t appear to have answers until he left the game.
Then there’s the offense. The Cardinals mostly abandoned the rollouts, jet sweeps and creative screen passes that helped them find a rhythm — although for a brief time — in Josh Rosen’s first start. It wasn’t until a final clock-winding drive that offensive coordinator Mike McCoy appeared to open up the playbook. Otherwise, Johnson’s runs up the gut looked quite bland once again — granted, the offensive line’s run blocking was poor. Meanwhile, Rosen’s inaccuracies with overthrows all game long combined with continued drops.
The one positive was Rosen and Co. didn’t turn the ball over themselves. Arizona can take that from a rookie quarterback. But at the end of the day, it’s hard to say the Cardinals showed any more signs of turning a corner on either side of the ball. The 49ers were simply that bad, but still managed to run 92 plays to 49 for Arizona.
Luke Lapinski, co-host of The Rundown and reporter
A win’s a win. Particularly when you don’t have one yet, and especially when it comes on the road. So let’s just say that first. I don’t want to downplay what Arizona accomplished today.
That was far from convincing though – at least on one side of the football. For the most part, this game followed the blueprint for how I expected the 2018 version of the Cardinals to have to win games – the defense holds the opposition to 20 points or less and forces a couple key turnovers, while the offense limits the giveaways, manages to make a couple plays and occasionally gets into the end zone – probably by way of David Johnson.
Problem is, they took it to the extreme today. Sure, Josh Rosen hit Christian Kirk for a beautiful 75-yard touchdown on Arizona’s first play from scrimmage. It looked like that duo might be the story of the game, but then the offense just sort of shut down after that. Receivers started dropping passes again and the whole unit looked pretty predictable while managing just 51 total yards in the second half. In short, they let the 49ers hang around longer than they probably should have.
Along the way, they left the defense on the field for 40:12, and it doesn’t take a math major to figure out that’s way too much time. San Francisco’s defense got to rest for two thirds of the afternoon, while the Cards’ defense had to grind this one out.
They answered in a big way though, sacking C.J. Beathard four times and forcing five turnovers. Put simply, they won this game for Steve Wilks.
In fact, I still feel like the defense has played well enough for the Cardinals to be 3-2 right now. Yes, I understand that they’re giving up too many yards on the ground – I’m not saying they’re perfect. But that could simply be because they’ve been on the field for over 36 minutes a game through the first five weeks. That’s by far the most in the NFL, yet they’re still holding the other team to 18 points per contest since the Rams game. That should be enough to win most days.
And it was today. But they also had to create five takeaways and even get a touchdown from Josh Bynes to seal it. That’s outstanding, but they’re probably going to need a little more help from the offense in Minnesota next week.
John Gambadoro, co-host of Burns & Gambo
At least we know they won’t go 0-16.
The Cardinals got their first win of the season and although it wasn’t pretty a win is a win. The one shining moment was the Cardinals first play from scrimmage on offense – a beautifully thrown 75 yard touchdown pass from Josh Rosen to Christian Kirk.
There wasn’t much else from Rosen to get too giddy about. He threw for 170 yards, missed on 15 of his 25 passes – the Cardinals continue to drop balls – and he didn’t throw a pick. The run game was awful totaling only 56 yards. David Johnson had two touchdown runs but he still has not shown he is a special player averaging only 3.1 yards per carry on 18 carries and only catching 2 passes for 16 yards.
We saw offensive coordinator Mike McCoy hugging head coach Steve Wilks after the game and the thought occurred to me of how many more times we will see that. This offense has no creativity in it. It is failing David Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald and everyone else who considers themselves a skill position player.
The defense gave up 447 yards and they were fortunate that CJ Bethard is so inept with two interceptions and two fumbles that he actually made the defense look good. Had to be happy with Budda Baker (16 tackles), Chandler Jones who was a monster today and Hasson Reddick with 8 tackles, including a strip sack. Can’t say this win was the first of many. Can only say it’s a win and hope there are more to come.
Jordan Byrd, host of Arizona Sports Saturday and producer of Burns & Gambo
Yikes! That was ugly but a win is a win and both Steve Wilks and Josh Rosen got their first ones Sunday.
Rosen took a step back this week. Things started out promisingly enough with a 75 yard touchdown pass to Christian Kirk on his first throw but things went down from there. He was a victim of more dropped balls but Rosen showed the type of accuracy that got Sam Bradford benched.
It’s going to be a process and by no means was his performance a set back or anything, its just a reminder that Rosen is human and is still an NFL rookie.
The offense as a whole continues to confuse and frustrate. Their inability to consistently move the ball and build drives is a major issue. Had it been nearly any other team in the league, those problems would have doomed the Cardinals and would have resulted in their fifth loss of the season.
Instead, the Arizona defense bailed out their offense time after time and were the stars of this game. They made CJ Beathard look like the inexperienced quarterback he is and kept the 49ers scoreless for most of the game after giving up the initial touchdown drive.
This game did provide the blueprint for the Cardinals to win more games. Lean on the defense and special teams to keep you in games and hope that the offense can do just enough to put you ahead. However, Sunday did nothing to reassure me that the offense can actually hold up their end of that bargain.
Dave Burns, co-host of Burns & Gambo
Mostly it’s relief. Relief that they finally got one. Relief that we won’t have to start looking at the schedule to try and find where that first win is going to come from. And happy for Steve Wilks that he finally got that first one. If he hadn’t the pressure cooker would have gone up a notch or two this week.
There were so many ways they could have lost that game today. Their poor offensive output. Defensively at times it felt like the Niners were moving the ball at will. And yet time after time the turnovers would bail them out. Just when it looked like San Francisco was ready to take control of the game they would do something to give it away.
It’s difficult to look at this game and draw too much encouragement. I want to, I really do. But it’s hard to imagine an effort like this is going to win many football games the rest of the season.
Josh Rosen looked like he was ready to take the game by storm after that first TD pass. But then drops and his own accuracy issues came back to plague him and the offense. He looked like a rookie QB making his first start. Jittery. Full of nerves. Overthrows and missed targets. It was the kind of step back that frankly was predictable and proof that he is just 21. It’s going to be like this for a while now. That’s how it goes with a rookie QB.