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Rapid Reactions: Cardinals fall to the Vikings after a close first half

Arizona Cardinals running back David Johnson (31) scores on a 1-yard touchdown run ahead of Minnesota Vikings defensive tackle Linval Joseph, left, during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 14, 2018, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

The Arizona Cardinals were met with a stiff road test against the reigning NFC North champion Minnesota Vikings and kept the game close until a 14-point outburst helped the Vikings pull away in the third quarter.

The Cardinals fell by a final score of 27-17, moving to 1-5 on the season.

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

Doug Franz, co-host of Doug & Wolf

There are a lot of problems on this offense that are not the fault of the offensive coordinator.

There are no offensive coordinators that can scheme against bad fumbles from their “star” running back.

There are no offensive coordinators that can protect a quarterback when the below average players on the offensive line are hurt and the line is forced to play the back-ups to the below average players.

There are no offensive coordinators that can suddenly make a rookie quarterback into a Hall of Famer.

There are also no offensive coordinators who would ever run four plays inside the opponents’ 10 yards line without one play call designed to use the goal line skills of Larry Fitzgerald.  So far this year, there’s been a crucial 3rd down conversion attempt without David Johnson on the field.  Now, against the Vikings, there’s been a fourth down conversion attempt without Larry Fitzgerald on the field.

Any offensive coordinator who believes the Arizona Cardinals’ offense is better with Larry Fitzgerald on the bench should no longer be the offensive coordinator.

Jordan Byrd, producer of Burns & Gambo

Just like Bill Murray, the Cardinals are stuck in some sort of groundhog day scenario, although no one is laughing at the version we have here in Arizona.

The offense couldn’t convert on 3rd down, balls were dropped, David Johnson made mistakes and the play calling was uninspired. This has become the norm this season anytime the Cardinals offense is on the field.

The offensive line suffered from injury issues Sunday, but the pass protection looked lost against an aggressive and sophisticated Vikings defense. Josh Rosen, I mean Sam Rosen (Ronde Barber is the worst), looked improved from last week against the Niners. Even under pressure, the rookie quarterback made some impressive throws that turned into big plays. Just like every other game Rosen has played in this season, the Cardinals’ offensive issues have nothing to do with No. 3.

What was obvious today is what a creative, innovative offense can look like. The Vikings showed the type of imagination that should make every Cardinals fan wonder why the Arizona offense looks so pedestrian. This once again falls on Mike McCoy and we are honestly getting to the point where I wonder if he will survive the season.

Defensively, this team isn’t bad as long as no one tries to run on them. The pass rush has really picked up in recent weeks and the amount of passes they were able to bat down at the line was impressive. The major issue is still the linebackers and their inability to execute the gap integrity that the coaches have been preaching all season long.

John Gambadoro, co-host of Burns & Gambo

And the Mike McCoy watch is officially on.

After another dismal performance by his offense and with a game on Thursday against the Broncos, this should be the final week for the beleaguered offensive coordinator. Look, its always best to admit your mistakes and move on, not compound those mistakes by trying to fit a square peg in a round hole.

This offense stinks. It has no creativity. It is making good football players like David Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald look pathetic. Enough is enough.

With a mini-bye coming up, that will be the time to make the change to current quarterbacks coach Byron Leftwich and ramp up this offense that has talent but is not producing. McCoy was fired mid-season last year by the Broncos, so this will not be new to him.

Against Minnesota, McCoy’s offense gained a whopping 269 yards and only 61 yards rushing. David Johnson was not good again – averaging 3.1 yards per carry on 18 carries. And he again was not featured in the passing attack with only two receptions for 18 total yards.

Larry Fitzgerald — you know, the guy headed to the Hall of Fame who had 109 catches for 1,156 yards last season — once again was kept in total check with five catches for 39 yards. Fitz is on pace for – get this — 54 catches for 563 yards and NO touchdowns.

We can blame the offensive line. We can blame the rookie quarterback. We can blame the front office. Or we can put the blame on the guy running the offense and make the change now. I said back in May when almost all of the Diamondbacks’ offensive players were going bad that it was time to fire hitting coach Dave Magadan. They didn’t, the team slumped, the offense was awful and the Diamondbacks crashed and burned. Once the season was over, they fired Magadan. Well, same scenario here: All of the offensive players are going bad, not just one or two. And when that happens, it’s usually the offensive coordinator, not the players.

Don’t do what the D-backs did and waste three or four months. See what Leftwich can do. I mean really, what do you have to lose?

Dave Burns, co-host of Burns & Gambo

Coming off their first win of the season didn’t provide the kind of fuel for a road upset the way some had hoped. Frankly, the fear from here was that the Cards were walking into a mess of a game that wouldn’t be that close given the opponent, location and the mere fact that they really didn’t play that well last week.

Certainly there were moments that made you think the Cards were going to keep it close. Chandler Jones’ strip sack and Budda Baker’s subsequent fumble return for a touchdown was one. Just like last week, their ability to force turnovers was one of the few factors that allowed them to be competitive. The offense put up a season high in yards and certainly Josh Rosen had a decent game in a tough environment.

But there was so much here that made this yet another futile Sunday.

The Cards run defense was abysmal. Coming in, the Vikings were No. 31 in the NFL in rush yards per game. They bullied the Cardinals to the tune of 195 yards rushing. This new scheme and the personnel who run it continue to raise questions. Is this the right fit at the right time? I can’t help but to wonder if we’ll see another change at linebacker this week.

They were 0-10 on third down conversions. David Johnson had 18 carries for 55 yards and a crucial fumble. The stated identity of this team coming in was allegedly their ability to run the ball on offense and stop the run defense. Allegedly.

The Cardinals have been outscored 42-0 in the third quarter of games. Whatever they’re coaching, talking, scheming, eating or drinking at halftime, it isn’t working. My faith in this new coaching staff is diminishing by the week.

The Cards wasted prime field position on a couple of series. One in particular that stands out is the wasted possession after the big catch by Ricky Seals-Jones. The Cardinals offense isn’t even close to good enough to waste the few precious scoring chances they get.

Injuries and poor performance on the offensive line were a concern in this game too.

Vince Marotta, co-host of Bickley & Marotta

The Cardinals ran 55 plays and gained 269 total yards on offense, and those numbers actually marked improvement.

But now there are new concerns. First, the run defense was absolutely gashed by a very mediocre running game. Secondly, the rash of injuries on an already average offensive line is a worry, especially headed into a short week.

Add those to the list of things that have still not improved – the running game is dormant, the offense is still not using David Johnson effectively or creatively in the passing game and you can’t expect to win a game when you go 0-for-10 on third down.

Kevin Zimmerman, ArizonaSports.com editor and reporter

Let’s start by giving a little credit where it’s due. Offensive coordinator Mike McCoy apparently believes in rookie quarterback Josh Rosen enough to finally open up the playbook, and that he did with mixed results in the loss to Minnesota.

The Cardinals started the game with a three-and-out without attempting a rush, working quick hits to the outside and making sure to heavily involved Christian Kirk in a variety of ways to get the Vikings off the scent of running back David Johnson. That, you’d think, would’ve opened up the run game, but Johnson’s day included a dropped pass and a fumble, furthering the thought that maybe his mistakes were harming the running back more than the lack of balls handed to him or thrown his way.

On both sides of the ball, it was mistakes like that which continued to kill any brief successes for Arizona, which used Minnesota turnovers to put together a full competitive game.

The mistakes and lack of execution have become most clear on the offensive line, where the offseason of spending hasn’t panned out in production or even health after three guards got hurt against the Vikings. Even before then, a fourth down at the goal line produced no push, something that summarized the failure of the team to build what coach Steve Wilks imagined when he first arrived.

I think with that, it’s time we have to accept and say this: Even on a day where you saw a lot of good from the coaching staff all around, the fact is this Cardinals team just doesn’t have the talent to win games against above-average teams.

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