Rapid Reactions: Cardinals struggle on both sides of ball in loss to Denver
Thursday marked the worst game of the season for the Arizona Cardinals.
Struggling on both sides, the team allowed 45 points on defense, while the offense couldn’t find a rhythm from the start. As a unit, Josh Rosen and the offense committed five turnovers and managed only 10 points all game.
Here are the rapid reactions from the 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station staff.
John Gambadoro, co-host of Burns & Gambo
Do words exist to properly describe what we just witnessed? ‘Absolute debacle’ is what comes to mind first. I honestly can’t remember a half of football that bad. Maybe some research will jog our memories but that has to be one of, if not the worst first half performance, we have ever seen by a Cardinals football team.
It was so bad that in the press box we joked about having enough time to leave and make the start of the ASU game. I mean 35-3 at the half — was there any reason to stay?
I can’t tell you I didn’t see this coming because I did. I picked up Denver’s defense in fantasy this week and got 33 points. I gassed up the limo knowing Mike McCoy would need a ride to the airport.
McCoy needs to be gone. His offense is brutal. They couldn’t get lined up twice in the first half and had to take timeouts. They had a delay of game at home because of miscommunication. They again couldn’t convert third downs.
A lot needs to change but it starts with McCoy. He’s not a scapegoat, he’s just pathetic at his job and needs to go. Cardinals were short-handed on the offensive line and we all understand that, but there are no excuses. The Cardinals failed to get 300 total yards again, Rosen got his brains beat in, David Johnson was again irrelevant and Larry Fitzgerald — although he scored his first touchdown — made no impact.
Byron Leftwich is ready. He will be good. They can’t change the offense at this point in the season but they can add creativity, eliminate plays and add protections. And Leftwich can call a better game and not be as predictable as McCoy has been.
Denver gave up almost 600 yards rushing the last two games. Arizona had 69 total. Firing McCoy won’t fix all the problems, but it will be a start. One thing at a time.
Doug Franz, co-host of Doug & Wolf
If there are no changes off the field, there will be no changes on the field.
Kellan Olson, ArizonaSports.com editor and reporter
If you had some doubt as to whether or not the Arizona Cardinals were the worst team in the NFL, that was surely erased after Thursday night.
How does one even try and describe this game from Arizona’s perspective? It was an outright mess. Missed tackles, blown coverages, fumbles and interceptions put this game out of control in a hurry.
To look past the mental mistakes, though, would leave you flabbergasted at the Cardinals’ inability to run the ball, even with Denver’s horrendous record to defend the run coming into Thursday night.
There is no other way to respond to a 1-6 start and performance like this in primetime than changes to the coaching staff.
Kevin Zimmerman, ArizonaSports.com editor and reporter
Same old Cardinals. But while the win over the 49ers and loss to the Vikings saw Arizona at least limit the damage off its mistakes, the Thursday night outing saw the Broncos gut-punch Arizona off miscues time and time again.
Injuries played a part, for sure. Rudy Ford looked at fault for at least a deep shot to Emmanuel Sanders in a blowout of a first half. The offensive line collapsed with its starting guards, Mike Iupati and Justin Pugh, out due to injury. Rookie quarterback Josh Rosen failed to feel the pocket and held the ball too long — even though too long was hardly long at all.
The fact of the matter is the problems are in both talent and in coaching. There’s no other way around the latter when it’s seven weeks into the season and the team’s performance collapses as it did against a Denver team that is likewise playing for something.
Cardinals head coach Steve Wilks followed the game up with yet another broken-record press conference. Sure, maybe he’s a steady leader who never panics, but both D.J. Humphries and David Johnson followed his media sessions not having answers. That seems to mark a red flag for a head coach who needs to provide his players better answers at this moment.
After Week 1, 2, 3, 4, 6 and now 7, we’ve waited to see a response from the Cardinals like the Broncos showed with their own head coach at risk of losing his job. The question is, how long will we keep waiting?
Dave Burns, co-host of Burns & Gambo
In regards to Mike McCoy, at this point it feels like it would be a major upset if nothing happens sometime in the next 24 hours. The Broncos run defense was the worst in the league coming in yet the Cards only ran for 69 yards at 3.3 yards a pop. Two hundred and twenty-three total yards will simply not cut it in this league. We’ve seemingly arrived to the the point where somebody has to be held responsible. A change needs to be made and if that means McCoy is the “scapegoat” then so be it.
But here’s the thing.
Swapping out McCoy for Byron Leftwich may not produce the kind of immediate results they or we are looking for. He’s been a quarterbacks coach for just over a year and a half. Like it or not, there’s going to be a learning curve. We have to be prepared for that.
And here’s the other thing, it’s not just the offensive coordinator. No one, and by that I mean no player or unit, has gotten better since Week 1. There has been no progress on any front. That’s not a Mike McCoy problem, that’s an everybody problem.
Players drafted high aren’t good enough to be counted on every week, schemes aren’t being learned and nobody is improving. By Week 7, you’d expect something — anything — to suggest growth. Instead it’s a 35-3 halftime deficit to an, at best, average Broncos team on national television.
If by the end of the year we’re still seeing the same lack of improvement, then what? Once you fire McCoy you’re fresh out of scapegoats. We all know what direction the hot-seat flowchart is headed. I hate writing it. I hate even thinking it. But for the sake of Steve Wilks, progress better come quick.