After loss to Rams, Cardinals’ Wilks remains focused on job at hand

Dec 23, 2018, 7:10 PM | Updated: 7:15 pm
Arizona Cardinals head coach Steve Wilks greets quarterback Josh Rosen (3) during the first half of...
Arizona Cardinals head coach Steve Wilks greets quarterback Josh Rosen (3) during the first half of an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Rams, Sunday, Dec. 23, 2018, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

GLENDALE, Ariz. — The Cardinals appear to be going backward.

Their rookie quarterback looked poor and their defense even poorer.

Yet as Arizona regressed Sunday with a 31-9 loss to the Los Angeles Rams and a game at Seattle left to play in 2018, embattled head coach Steve Wilks said he is moving forward.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Sunday that the Cardinals (3-12) appear set on moving on from Wilks before he’s coached a full season. To that, Wilks said he hasn’t seen the reports about his job status or spoken about his future with Arizona’s brass.

“I will say this: I walked into this organization with integrity and whenever that time comes, I’ma walk out with integrity,” Wilks said. “And hopefully, that’s 12, 15 years from now.

“All these owners, they own their team, they can do what they want to do. I’m just working hard, doing my job. I’m the head coach of the Arizona Cardinals right now.”

On Sunday at State Farm Stadium, rookie quarterback Josh Rosen finished with 87 passing yards, the fewest he’s produced in 12 games as a starter. He completed 12 of 23 passes without a score or a pick for a paltry 3.78 yards per attempt.

The Rams fumbled on their first possession, leading to a field goal to put the home team ahead 3-0 with 7:11 left in the first quarter. After that, Los Angeles didn’t need to punt until less than a minute remained in the third quarter.

The only bright spot for Arizona came when receiver Larry Fitzgerald caught a lateral and then stepped up to throw a 32-yard touchdown pass to running back David Johnson with 9:40 left in the first half, pulling the Cardinals within 14-9 after a missed extra point by kicker Zane Gonzalez.

Fitzgerald had as many passing yards as Rosen with two minutes left in the first half. Meanwhile at that point, Rosen had 49 rushing yards to Johnson’s five. Johnson and backup Chase Edmonds would combined for 55 yards on 14 carries by the end of the game.

Defensively, Arizona allowed 269 rushing yards on 6.6 yards per pop, including 167 alone by veteran running back C.J. Anderson less than a week after he was signed by the Rams to replace Todd Gurley.

Fitzgerald’s potential farewell at home and highlight-reel throw allowed for a few postgame smiles.

But after the 15-year pro shrugged off the significance of throwing his first touchdown pass in his career, he fielded questions about the future of his first-year head coach.

“Obviously, we all understand this is a results business,” Fitzgerald said. “That doesn’t change the human element for me and the guys on the team. We enjoy him. He treats us well. Just wish we could play better for him.

“I love Coach Wilks and we would love to have him back. He’s a wonderful man.”

Wilks was asked if the Cardinals’ deteriorating run defense got under his skin. He said it was more than that — like he’d been infected by a virus.

And with his job secure for the immediately future, that will have his focus going into a season finale against the Seahawks. The head coach hasn’t asked his bosses about his job status — and won’t.

“Again, asking those guys about the future means I’m not focused at the job at hand,” Wilks said.

“I’m very spiritual-based,” he added. “I’m working. Whatever happens, God’s going to put me where he wants me to be.”

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