Kingsbury on 0-3-1 start: Nobody is coming to save Cardinals
GLENDALE, Ariz. — The message emitting from a winless Arizona Cardinals locker room at least sounded universal.
The Cardinals must make changes themselves.
And they’ve got to stick together to do so.
A winless start through Week 4 hasn’t led to panic, even after a Sunday loss to the Seattle Seahawks. The 27-10 final score looked grim, but the frustration has intensified because Arizona felt like it has competed in spurts through the first quarter of the season.
Still, an 0-3-1 start echoed of the different first-year head coach and different first-year NFL quarterback that were in this same position a year ago, which coincidentally at this point of 2018 was also a home defeat at the hands of the Seahawks.
“Just getting back to fundamentals and techniques and sticking together,” Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury said after the Week 4 loss of the 2019 season.
“There’s nobody coming in that locker room to save us. I think everybody on that team understands how good we can be if we execute at a high level, and we just haven’t gotten it done.”
Sound a little like head coach Steve Wilks talking about rookie quarterback Josh Rosen’s first start of 2018? That was a more competitive 20-17 loss, at least.
Maybe the only difference this season is that the offense has moved the ball well and showed diversity. On Sunday, the defense looked competent enough, too.
Arizona rookie quarterback Kyler Murray put up 241 yards on 22-of-32 passing to match Seattle’s Russell Wilson, who went 22-of-28 for 240 yards with a touchdown. Murray’s biggest mistake was an early pick-six to Jadeveon Clowney, who swiped a screen pass meant for the Cardinals’ David Johnson and sprinted to the end zone, putting Arizona behind 10-0 with four minutes to go in the first quarter.
Both teams put up an even 115 rushing yards, though the Cardinals did so on four fewer carries.
A week after Arizona defensive coordinator Vance Joseph said his team took three steps backward by giving up explosive plays against the Carolina Panthers, the Cardinals at least contained Seattle.
Wilson took four sacks — 1.5 by veteran outside linebacker Terrell Suggs — and only completed two passes beyond 20 yards. The Seahawks’ longest run was 12 yards.
“We definitely took a step forward from last week. Last week was not good for us,” Cardinals safety Budda Baker said, wishing his team would create more turnovers via interception. “This week, still not good for us … we definitely got better, but then again, we left some plays out (there).”
Missed opportunities played their role in a lopsided score.
A third-down drop by Arizona rookie KeeSean Johnson and two missed field goals hurt in the first half as Seattle led 20-3. Cardinals kicker Zane Gonzalez took the blame for the missed kicks, his first two after a perfect 9-of-9 start to the year, and said new holder Ryan Winslow, in for injured punter Andy Lee, wasn’t to blame.
Murray taking a sack spoiled another promising-looking drive. An offensive pass interference push-off by Christian Kirk did so later on.
On defense, more flub-ups in covering tight ends stuck out.
Then two late Cardinals defensive penalties on cornerback Tramaine Brock and linebacker Chandler Jones gave Seattle enough chances to score a backbreaking touchdown after milking the clock with a methodical running game in the second half.
Questionable penalties or not, Arizona players are aware execution must improve and mistakes must be cut down.
“Sailors aren’t made on calm waters,” Suggs said. “You need a little bit of turmoil to kind of identify your character, see how much fight you really got. It’s a very unfortunate adversity, but it can be a good thing.”
The Cardinals can only hope the locker room avoids fracturing before some big help does arrive: cornerback Patrick Peterson will be walking through that door and into the locker room after two more games, but his team can’t wait until Oct. 20 against the New York Giants to finally earn a win.
The 0-3 Cincinnati Bengals and 1-3 Atlanta Falcons are up in the next two weeks.
“Good teams don’t hurt themselves, so we got to learn how to be the team we want to be. And that just starts with coming back together, keep doing the little things right and keep sticking together,” Cardinals left guard Justin Pugh said.
“The teams that start fighting amongst themselves and pointing fingers, those are the teams that never figure it out. The teams that stick together, keep uplifting each other, those are the teams that figure it out.”