Arizona Cardinals

Steve Wilks changes tack and fires Mike McCoy

As a new head coach Steve Wilks needed someone with experience to be his offensive coordinator, but the hiring of Mike McCoy is looking worse and worse each week.

Going into Thursday night’s 45-10 dismantling by the Denver Broncos, the Arizona Cardinals were at or toward the bottom in most offensive categories. Five turnovers and six sacks of Josh Rosen, along with less than 300 yards of offense for the seventh straight game to open the season, initially only prompted head coach Steve Wilks to suggest talk of changes is “premature.”

Wilks did eventually suggest changes to come on the offensive side of the ball, in both personnel and scheme, without specifically naming or calling out offensive coordinator Mike McCoy. Thursday night’s 223 yards of offense was right in line with the season average for Arizona’s offense (220.7 yards per game).

Some extra time before a Week 8 game against the San Francisco 49ers allows for some changes, probably led by McCoy’s dismissal and the promotion of quarterbacks coach Byron Leftwich to offensive coordinator.

On Friday morning, McCoy was let go.

Wilks is a first-time head coach, with experience on the defensive side of the ball. That was mostly as a defensive backs coach, with one season as a defensive coordinator for the Carolina Panthers in 2017. So he surely wanted someone to essentially run the Cardinals’ offense with full autonomy, perhaps with a tilt toward someone with head coaching experience. McCoy fit that bill.

McCoy spent four unremarkable seasons (2013-2016) as San Diego Chargers head coach, after rising to some prominence as Denver Broncos offensive coordinator from 2009-2012. After that 2012 season in Denver as Peyton Manning’s offensive coordinator, McCoy got the job in San Diego.

McCoy landed back with the Broncos as offensive coordinator last year, but he was fired and replaced by quarterbacks coach Bill Musgrave after 10 games. The idea that Musgrave was regarded as a better option is a black mark on McCoy, regardless of poor quarterback play limiting Denver’s offense.

McCoy made David Johnson look like a bad player by misusing him, and Larry Fitzgerald was being underused. Rosen deserves some blame for the sacks he took Thursday night, but McCoy did nothing to help his rookie quarterback.

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Wilks had the right idea in hiring someone to handle the side of the ball he has less expertise in, and McCoy may have been the best available option at the time. But the Cardinals’ offense can’t get any worse, and Wilks gets some credit for making a change in coordinator over a mini-bye heading into Week 8.

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