Rapid Reactions: Cardinals struggle in all phases in blowout loss to Atlanta
The Arizona Cardinals started Sunday’s game the right way, scoring on their opening drive.
But from then on out, Arizona struggled on both sides of the ball as the Atlanta Falcons cruised to a 40-14 win.
Offensively, Josh Rosen was sacked a total of six times and threw two interceptions in the loss, ending the game on the sideline in favor of backup quarterback Mike Glennon.
Here are the rapid reactions from the 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station staff.
Vince Marotta, co-host of Bickley & Marotta
Down by 33 points with minutes to go in a Week 15 game in Atlanta, Larry Fitzgerald took a pass from backup quarterback Mike Glennon, ran downfield and absolutely trucked Damontae Kazee, who was attempting to tackle him. Fitzgerald gained 26 yards.
At the same time, it was inspiring and downright sad.
Inspiring to see Fitzgerald, a future Hall-of-Famer, playing with such effort in another blowout loss. It was sad because Fitzgerald might be down to his final two games as a Cardinal, and there he is putting it all out there for the worst team he’s ever played on.
Fitz’s effort was the outlier in a 40-14 loss to the Falcons that dipped the Cardinals’ record to 3-11.
No offense, but the Cardinals have no offense. I know, I know, the offensive line is in shambles and gave up seven sacks. That has nothing to do with the fact that the Cards’ defense got shredded for 215 yards on the ground.
The Cardinals backtracked on their own “every rep is a good rep” philosophy when rookie QB Josh Rosen was pulled (spared) in the fourth quarter. With everything working against him, he was still bad. Rosen threw two interceptions, one of which was returned for an NFL-leading fourth pick six that changed the momentum of the game.
Glennon threw for almost as many yards as Rosen in two mop-up series in the fourth quarter. Rosen, as I’ve said for the last week or so, should be relegated to sideline duty for the rest of the season.
Yes, there was a point where the Cardinals had momentum. Arizona jumped out to a 7-0 lead after a David Johnson touchdown run. Deion Jones’ interception return started a 40-point run by Atlanta.
Think about it…the Cardinals have had leads over the Chargers and Falcons in recent weeks and allowed each team to run off 40 or more straight points.
This was the Cardinals’ fourth loss this season by 25 or more points. They simply aren’t competitive and Steve Wilks’ future with this organization is murkier than ever. The optics of the first 14 games of this season would indicate a change is coming, and one can argue the sooner that happens, the better for the Cardinals. A change now would allow them to start their coaching search ahead of other needy franchises.
But, ask yourself this: who on this coaching staff could even serve as an interim for two weeks?
Suffice it to say, this is a mess.
Doug Franz, co-host of Doug & Wolf
A 4-9 team with the worst rushing offense in the NFL rushed for over 200 yards against a head coach that spent his time before being a head coach on the defensive side of the ball.
The franchise quarterback does not have the accuracy to put the ball in a place to earn yards after the catch, has started to become a turnover machine and waits too long to see the open windows, while the back-up QB walks the team right down the field.
The only thing positive about this franchise right now is they’re the one team happy with their stadium situation.
Luke Lapinski, co-host of The Rundown and reporter
The Cardinals have a huge decision on their hands over the next two weeks. Giving up on a head coach after just 16 games is a dangerous precedent to set. You don’t want to become the Cleveland Browns. Then again, the Browns are actually in playoff contention right now and the Cards are looking up at everyone, so all bets are off.
It’s not that the Cardinals are 3-11 – don’t get me wrong, that’s terrible and it’s not helping – but it’s the way they’re losing these games. When the other team hits 17-20 points, it just feels like the game is over. That happened in the second quarter today and, well, the game was over.
So now this season has turned into little more than developing Josh Rosen and getting him reps. Except the supporting cast around him is so depleted and the offense is so ineffective that I’m not sure these reps are even helping at this point. They left the rookie in there a lot longer than I would have today, finally deciding to pull him midway through the fourth quarter of a game Arizona was losing 40-7 while Atlanta was gleefully piling up seven sacks.
I get the value of a new QB learning on the job. Better to go through the growing pains now, rather than next season when the team is presumably in a better spot and the games mean more. But if Rosen gets hurt late in a contest that Arizona is losing by 30+, everybody might just get fired on the field right in the middle of the game.
Jordan Byrd, producer of Burns & Gambo and host of Arizona Sports Saturday
I’m numb. That’s what happens when the Cardinals get blown out and embarrassed again on the road.
The Cardinals offense once again looked promising out of the gate, scoring a touchdown on their first drive of the game. But it was all downhill from there.
The offensive line couldn’t provide the protection Josh Rosen needed all game, making the quarterback shaky and indecisive even on the plays he had time. Rosen was a victim again of numerous dropped balls and the run game had it’s moments, but nothing near the consistency that is needed.
This was truly a forgettable game for Rosen. Three turnovers by the rookie were turned into easy points for Atlanta. He became so skittish in the pocket that you could almost sense his surprise when he wasn’t sacked or pressured within the first few seconds of a play. It was necessary to pull him from the game, not only to protect Rosen but also because his play was that bad and he deserved to be benched.
The question now is what will Rosen’s playing time look like the final two weeks of the season. Mike Glennon looked sharp in garbage time and his quick release under pressure was a noticeable difference after watching Rosen all game.
Rosen should still get the start against the Rams. Have him prepare all week for one of the better defenses in the NFL, but don’t hesitate to pull the hook if things look bad (which could happen as soon as the first quarter in this one).
In terms of Steve Wilks, I’ve seen enough. I’m not one to want a complete coaching staff change after only one season, but the blowouts keep happening and the lack of leadership is apparent. I know the injuries are stacking up to a ridiculous level, but the fight seems to have left the Cardinals and that’s on the head coach.
Dave Burns, co-host of Burns & Gambo
Pulling Josh Rosen when they did was the right move at roughly the right time. They could have done it a little earlier in the game but I’m not going to quibble over that. It was clearly “ballcap” time for Rosen and Steve Wilks made the right call.
It was also the right call to announce that he’s starting next week vs. the Rams. He still needs the reps and shutting him down for the remainder of the season does more harm than good. The state of the offensive line and Aaron Donald is a volatile mix and Wilks should take great care in monitoring the game and perhaps having a quicker hook next week.
I spent a good chunk of Sunday running errands and listening to the postgame show. Based on what I heard I don’t know how they can keep Wilks. Understand, it was a small sampling of Cards fans calling in but fans are clearly looking for a reason to believe. Keeping him, fair or not, will look to some like they’re not committed to solving the problem. Again, that might not be fair but I don’t see a second year for Wilks as an option at this point.
Steve Keim is trickier. His overall body of work suggests to me that he deserves one more season to figure it out. But Michael Bidwill might not see the logic in asking a potential lame duck GM to make another coaching hire after just a year.