Rapid Reaction: Cardinals again embarrassed in loss to Chargers
It was another below average performance for the Arizona Cardinals, who let Philip Rivers and the Los Angeles Chargers offense score at will in a 45-10 loss on Sunday.
Rivers set an NFL completions record, tied another and finished with 259 passing yards and three touchdowns.
The Cardinals, meanwhile, managed just 149 yards of total offense and allowed 45 straight points after leading 10-0 after the first quarter.
Arizona fell to 2-9 on the season while the Chargers improved to 8-3.
Here are the rapid reactions from the 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station hosts.
Vince Marotta, co-host of Bickley & Marotta
There’s not a lot of analysis required this week.
A) The Cardinals are a very bad team that looks disinterested in playing football at this point.
B) Robert Nkemdiche played his best game as a pro.
Other than Nkemdiche’s performance and maybe the first quarter (during which the Cardinals led 10-0), there was nothing positive to talk about.
After Phil Dawson’s missed field goal with 9:40 left in the second quarter, the Chargers outscored Arizona 38-0. Arizona simply turtled at the first sign of adversity and stayed in its shell for the next 39-plus minutes of game action.
The offense is nonexistent (149 total yards). Josh Rosen has regressed since taking over in Week 4 against Seattle and Larry Fitzgerald was targeted once when the game was actually “in doubt.”
The defense was the very definition of lethargic and allowed Philip Rivers to tie an NFL record by completing 25 consecutive passes. I’ve made my overall feelings about Rivers well known, but the veteran QB clowned on the Cardinals’ D. All. Day. Long.
When the Cardinals hit the bye following the win over San Francisco, the rest of the season was supposed to be judged on improvement. That simply isn’t happening, folks.
And if you thought a 35-point loss in a half-empty high school soccer stadium was ugly, next week in frigid Lambeau Field in front of an actual fan base and facing a team fighting for its playoff life could be exponentially worse.
Dave Burns, co-host of Burns & Gambo
During the second quarter of the Cards/Chargers game my stepmom delivered some fresh baked cookies for my daughter to take back to college with her. Watching this game was like watching me trying to not eat the cookies.
The Chargers are a good team but the Cards provided precious little resistance. Tackles were missed. What little momentum the Cardinals had was quickly squandered. Effort seemed to be a real challenge once the Chargers regained control of the game. It was just the kind of lack of effort I was concerned about after the loss to the Raiders. I wondered what kind of work ethic the Cards could muster up. It could be even worse next week against the Packers.
As flimsy as it seems, the Cardinals seemed to lose control after Phil Dawson’s missed field goal. In the process they squandered fantastic field position set up by a fumble and nothing was ever quite the same after that. Almost like they were just waiting for something bad to happen and when it did, that was that.
One loss by 34 or more points is bad enough. Three so far with potentially more on the way. Everybody’s job is on the line when that happens.
John Gambadoro, co-host of Burns & Gambo
The biggest decision the Cardinals will have to make this offseason is whether to keep Steve Wilks as the head coach and change some of his staff or fire him and start over along with 7-10 other teams that will be looking for a head coach in a profession in which there just is not that many quality head coaching candidates.
After the pathetic performance against the Chargers you have to think the Cardinals brass is leaning towards a complete do-over. Wilks may be in over his head. He just can’t seem to get this team to compete and buy into his philosophy. At some point you have to ask the question. Is it the players, the coach or a combination of both?
The reality is that it is both – but a certain percentage of blame has to fall one way over the other and after Bruce Arians led the Cardinals to an 8-8 season last year you have to believe it is more the coach than the players this season.
The Cardinals will say they are evaluating everyone. And part of that is true because the players who are not competing hard, not giving it their all should not be here next year. But the most important evaluation is Wilks. Do the Cardinals really need 5 more games to determine whether he is the right guy for the job? Is it possible they know already? Arizona is 2-9 and it’s hard to imagine them winning another game with the schedule they have. Maybe Detroit – maybe.
Is it fair to judge Wilks after one season? Probably not. But you can’t compound mistakes. If the Cardinals made a mistake on this hire, so be it. Plenty of teams make mistakes on coaching hires. The Cardinals aren’t the first and won’t be the last. But what you don’t want to do is bring Wilks back if you truly don’t believe he is the right guy. That would only set the Cardinals back even further.
Wilks was a good defensive coordinator. That may be his ceiling. If the Cardinals had an experienced OC or DC maybe they would make a change now after this latest debacle. But they don’t so we are likely stuck with Wilks through the end of the season. That’s five games for Wilks to show us something, anything to make us believe that he is the right guy for this job. Or maybe we already know after 11 games.
There will be quite a few coaches fired on Black Monday – will Wilks be one of them?
Kevin Zimmerman, ArizonaSports.com editor and reporter
Only three of the Los Angeles Chargers’ 30 first downs Sunday in a 45-10 win over the Arizona Cardinals came on a third down, a sign of just how little resistance Arizona put up on defense. Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers completed 28 of 29 passes. The other numbers don’t matter so much when looking at another Cardinals loss that puts itself in the conversation for being the worst of the year.
At the end of the day, the Cardinals once again showed few signs of progress, little evidence that’s there are more promising days ahead. On this day more than most this season, there’s a lot to be put on the coaching staff.
No, this isn’t the most talented team. But it’s hard to imagine a team with David Johnson, Chandler Jones, Patrick Peterson and an aging Larry Fitzgerald shouldn’t at least be able to compete. Arizona dearly missed safety Budda Baker, among others. To fall flat — a 10-0 start not lasting long — after a season-low loss to the Oakland Raiders a week prior only means the hot seat is real for a first-year head coach or the man who hired him, GM Steve Keim.
Head coach Steve Wilks deserves a chance to prove his chops as a leader and coach. But if the locker room is lost, as it might be after two gut-punch defeats, it’s hard to defend a coach, even if he was set up to fail. Fans might’ve been calling for this a long time ago, but now it’s hard to argue that sentiment is a knee-jerk reaction.
Jordan Byrd, producer of Burns & Gambo and host of Arizona Sports Saturday
The Cardinals lack of all around talent showed itself again in their loss to the Chargers.
The offense had success out of the gates, jumping to a 10-0 lead. But as we have seen time and time again, once the offense gets through their scripted plays, the wheels fall off. It truly seems the only time the offense is productive is the first 10-15 plays of each half before adjustments are made.
The secondary is bad. Routinely LA wide receivers ran free and made incredible plays even when the coverage was decent.
I also don’t understand why Phil Dawson is kicking for this team at this point in the season. If the rest of the year is about evaluation, then let Matt McCrane or Zane Gonzalez have a shot at the kicking duties to see if either can be a piece for this roster moving forward.
A bright spot today was Robert Nkemdiche. The former first round pick played like the disruptive force the Cardinals thought they were getting when they selected him. Where it came from and why we haven’t seen it before is just nothing puzzling question to a season already filled with them.