The finger-pointing came to a head for the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday, and coach Steve Wilks finally went to rookie Josh Rosen to try to stop the bleeding. But the quarterback isn’t the problem.
After watching as the Cardinals traded up to the No. 10 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft to take him, Rosen had to sit on the pine and watch as his team was outscored 58-6 the first two weeks of the season. Big-money free agent acquisition Sam Bradford helmed a hapless offense unable to put together any more than one successful drive at a time.
Until the fourth quarter on Sunday.
With 4:31 left in the game, after Bradford’s third turnover of the afternoon, Rosen began warming up on the sideline. Suddenly, the Rosen Era had begun in Glendale.
A Bears three-and-out gave Rosen and the Cardinals the ball with one final chance to win the game. Things ran smoothly for all of three or four plays before the real problem in Arizona crept up, and it had nothing to do with Bradford or Rosen.
Facing a third-and-3 just past midfield, offensive coordinator Mike McCoy, brought in to rebuild the offense opposite the defensive-minded Wilks, called up an outside run for rookie backup running back Chase Edmonds that lost two yards. The game ended on the next play, when the Bears pressured Rosen into a bad throw downfield, which was then intercepted by Chicago’s Bryce Callahan.
It’s inexcusable for a team with David Johnson, to whom they just gave a $30 million new deal, to call a run for someone like Edmonds against the Bears’ defense with the game on the line.
Rosen will be in just as bad a situation as he was in Week 3, staring down a deficit with Chicago linemen in his face every play, as long as McCoy keeps up his confounding playcalling.
Expect Wilks to give the usual “I’ll have to watch the film” line tonight before naming Rosen the new starter early next week. Rosen had the offense humming for a moment before that third-down failure, and looked more comfortable than Bradford did over nearly three entire games.
The positive Arizona can take from the contest is their first quarter success, which came as a result of getting its offensive skill-position athletes open. The team had two passing scores over 20 yards in the first but did not score the rest of the game.
It’s tough to imagine the Cardinals beating Seattle next week at home, but putting Rosen on the field and trying to get Johnson more involved were stepping stones for the new coaching regime.
The next stone to step upon may just have to be moving on from McCoy, before he threatens Rosen’s first season even further.