Rapid Reactions: Cardinals lose season finale to Seahawks, get No. 1 pick
The Arizona Cardinals’ nightmare season is over.
A 27-24 loss to the Seattle Seahawks gave the Cardinals the No. 1 pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, but several questions linger entering the offseason.
Will Steve Wilks return as the head coach? Will Steve Keim as the GM? What about Larry Fitzgerald?
Back to the game, Josh Rosen threw his first touchdown in a month and the Cardinals’ special teams had its best performance of the season.
Here are the rapid reactions from the 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station hosts.
Vince Marotta, co-host of Bickley & Marotta
The Cardinals wrapped up their worst-ever season in the desert with a performance to be proud of.
Of course, it still ended in a 27-24 loss thanks to a last-second field goal from Sebastian Janikowski — the second time this season the hefty lefty has inflicted pain on Arizona.
This game felt different, because the Cardinals played really hard for 60 minutes. The defense balled out — holding Seattle to under 300 yards of offense.
The special teams had its best game in a few years; Zane Gonzalez hit two field goals of 50 yards or longer. Pharoh Cooper had a 45-yard punt return and the Cardinals blocked two punts — one by Cameron Malveaux which Dennis Gardeck pounced on in the end zone for a game-tying touchdown.
Offensively, this team remained a mess from Week 1 through the rest of the season. Arizona managed just 198 yards of offense. It was the third time this year they’ve been held under 200. That had happened only 26 times since the Cardinals moved to the Valley in 1988.
Josh Rosen’s rookie season was very succinctly summed up with one late-game pass. Facing a 3rd-and-12 from the Seahawks’ 37-yard line, Rosen (who had again taken bad sacks on third downs earlier in the game) stepped up in the pocket and threw a strike to rookie Trent Sherfield…who couldn’t come up with the catch.
It’s what makes evaluating Rosen’s first year so hard. Statistically, it wasn’t good. He was inaccurate and unproductive — (here comes the but) but, HE HAD ALMOST ZERO HELP! Mike McCoy’s vanilla-flavored offense ended up crippling the team for the whole season because Byron Leftwich inherited his mess after seven weeks. The offensive line was banged up. In fact, 11 different players logged over 100 snaps of action on the line this year. The receivers, outside of Larry Fitzgerald and rookie Christian Kirk (before his injury) did nothing.
I haven’t been high on Rosen this season, but I’m relieved the Cardinals have him as their signal caller moving forward as opposed to the scenario many were rooting for last winter — breaking the bank to sign Kirk Cousins.
With the right coordinator, a healthy offensive line and some improved receivers, Rosen can improve. Cousins turtled again Sunday in a must-win situation with a loaded roster.
As far as the head coach goes, as seemingly promising as Sunday was, I think Steve Wilks will be shown the door by Cardinals brass. It comes down to one thing for me: Lack of any marked improvement in one area of the team all season. I already mentioned the offense, but the defense didn’t make strides either. In Week 17, the Cardinals again were crippled by miscommunication in their zone scheme and both completions to Tyler Lockett effectively buried them.
The same problems popped up every week with the same explanations given to address them. It’s not acceptable.
Dave Burns, co-host of Burns & Gambo
When the Cards tied the game late, I had this surreal moment of hoping they would lose. It’s one thing to talk about wanting things like that to happen but it’s something quite different when you’re actually rooting for it to happen. But in the final moments of the game that’s exactly what I was hoping for. A loss.
You don’t come this close to the first pick in the draft only to blow it in the final seconds of a meaningless season finale. I was glad they lost.
Now, the waiting game begins. As I write this, the Cards have already scheduled a media availability for Monday and it includes Coach Wilks, but that can easily change. They played hard for him on Sunday but it’s hard to see that factoring into the decision. I can’t imagine he’ll be back next year but I’ve been doing this too long to know for sure.
Players are vouching for him but it’s hard to know if that’s just respectful men paying respect to their leader or if it’s how they truly feel. Either way, we’ll find out soon enough.
Mercifully this season is over.
Kevin Zimmerman, ArizonaSports.com editor and reporter
A key 3rd-and-6 in the heart of the third quarter marked the turning point. A Russell Wilson fumble near Arizona’s goal line looked like it’d been picked up and returned by Patrick Peterson for a Cardinals touchdown, but the play was nullified by a holding penalty on Arizona.
The Seahawks turned around to score, making their lead 21-13 rather than a 20-14 Arizona advantage had the turnover stood. It wasn’t the swing of that play that stood out — it was the next three that followed, which saw the Seahawks go 89 yards in less than two minutes that showed just why the Cardinals have failed time and time again this year.
They haven’t been consistent. They haven’t been tough. They don’t respond to mistakes well. They break down at key moments in a game that was otherwise well-played. It was a microcosm of a season with many failures and a lot of questions that go deeper than the collection of talent in the locker room.
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