2018 Season Recap: Arizona Cardinals

2018 SEASON RECAP: ARIZONA CARDINALS

Division: NFC West Record: 3-13 (Div. 2-4 4th place)

TL/DR 2018 season:

I hope you didn't have to watch any Cardinals games this year

We're #1! We're #1! That will be our chant April 25th with the FIRST PICK IN THE DRAFT. Welcome to the inaugural post for the 7th annual 32 Teams/32 Days series, I didn't know if I could get this post done in 2 days, but I had to endure this past season, so everything sucks and who cares.

Offseason Expectations

Courtesy of u/HSPUMBLOOM It’s fair to say the expectations for the Cardinals heading into the season were all over the place. Many fans on reddit and within the sports-o-sphere were very optimistic that the Cardinals wouldn’t be the dumpster fire they turned out to be. On the other side of the coin, the ceiling certainly wasn’t projected very grand for the red birds with a total unknown in Steve Wilks steering the ship after beloved coach Bruce Arians retired. The Cardinals certainly had their fair share of roster turnover, with talents like Tyrann Mathieu, Adrian Peterson, John Brown and Jaron Brown all leaving for greener pastures, but they had contingencies in place for those losses (minus the WR position… yikes.)

The Cardinals were active in free agency, and had a big draft. Acquiring the likes of Sam Bradford, Mike Glennon, Andre Smith and Justin Pugh was a really good sign that Keim realized the problems. The QB position had backup plans for the first round rookie that was surely coming. Of course, Sam Bradford was no Kirk Cousins, a hot commodity that the Cardinals were pining for, but were beaten out by the Vikings. The Offensive Line also got a supposed boost with quality guard (but very fragile) Justin Pugh from the Giants and very bad and fragile tackle Andre Smith from the Bengals. All the right things were being addressed. This favorable FA period was capitalized with an even better draft. The Cards managed to jump up to the 10th pick and acquire the future of the franchise, Josh Rosen, and his WR partner of the future Christian Kirk in the second. Offensive line was again bolstered with Mason Cole (3rd) and Korey Kunningham(7th). All this good Keim was doing contributed to the hype Cardinals fans and others were starting to feel, but the skeptics weren’t convinced.

Vegas had the Cardinals near the bottom when it came to win totals. Most sports betting sites had them around the 5-6 win mark. I hope you all bet the under on that one. Clearly Vegas had little faith in Wilks, and the roster as a whole.

Overall, the range of expectations seemed to be a ceiling of 8 wins to a floor of 4 wins. There were so many unknowns heading into this season it was hard to really get a read on what the Cardinals were going to be, or what they would eventually end up.

##Expectations v Performance Boy did we make Vegas look stupid. Bullet List review of season Here's a 1 row per week mini-review of the climate and thoughts about the Cardinals.

  • It's ok, run defense needs a couple weeks to warm up
  • Why don't we try running up the middle more?
  • The Bradford era ended
  • The Cards played a close game!
  • WE WON A GAME
  • Our run D sucks
  • Got destroyed in prime time. McCoy gets fired
  • 49ers suck
  • Played KC relatively close
  • Lost to Jon Gruden. Jesus
  • Got ripped apart by Rivers
  • Won a game in Lambeau. So random
  • The last 4 games of the year were HORRENDOUS to watch.

Expectation: Bad Performance: Unfathomably bad offense.

Statistics

Offensive Team Statistics

Category 2018 Stats (League Rank) Difference from 2016
Total Yards/Game 241.6 (32nd) -72.8
Passing Yards/Game 157.7 (32nd) -69.8
Rushing Yards/Game 83.9 (32nd) -2.7
Points/Game 14.1 (32nd) -4.3
Yards/Play 4.3 (n/a) -0.4
Turnover 28 (6th) +3
First Downs 239 (32nd) -58

Defensive Team Statistics

Category 2018 Stats (League Rank) Difference from 2016
Total Yards Allowed/Game 358.8 (20th) +48
Passing Yards/Game 203.9 (4th) -17.4
Rushing Yards/Game 154.9 (32nd) +65.4
Points allowed/Game 26.6 (26th) +4
Yards/Play Allowed 5.4 (n/a) +0.5
Forced Turnovers 16 (28th) -5
First Downs Allowed 357 (28th) +74

Special Teams Statistics

Category Player Stat
Return Yards T.J. Logan 335
Longest Punt Return Pharoh Cooper 45
Longest Kickoff Return T.J. Logan 36
Field Goals Zane Gonzalez 7/9 (77.8%)
Punting Net Average Andy Lee 48.6
Punting Inside 20 Andy Lee 32

Offensive Leaders

Category Player Stat
Passing Yards Josh Rosen 2278
Passing TDs Josh Rosen 11
Pass Attempts Josh Rosen 393
Pass Completions Josh Rosen 217
Longest Pass Josh Rosen 75
Rushing Yards David Johnson 940
Rushing TDs David Johnson 7
Longest Rush David Johnson 53
Receptions Larry Fitzgerald 69
Receiving Yards Larry Fitzgerald 734
Receiving TDs Larry Fitzgerald 6
Longest Reception Christian Kirk 75

Defensive Leaders

Category Player Stat
Tackles Antoine Bethea 121
Sacks Chandler Jones 13
TFLs Chandler Jones 13
Passes Defended Tre Boston 9
Interceptions Tre Boston 3
Defensive TDs Josh Bynes/Budda Baker 1
Forced Fumble Chandler Jones 3
Fumble Recovery Josh Rosen 7

Draft Picks

Round Pick Position Player School
1 10 QB Josh Rosen UCLA
2 15 WR Christian Kirk Texan A&M
3 33 C Mason Cole Michigan
4 24 RB Chase Edmonds Fordham
6 8 CB Christian Campbell Penn State
7 36 OL Korey Cunningham Cincinnati

Pick Review

Only 6 draft picks this year but it's looking like this was an above average draft for Keim.

Josh Rosen: The Chos3n one was drafted to sit behind Bradford this year, and as everyone assumed that obviously wasn't going to pan out for a whole season. He came into the 4th quarter of a one score game in week 3 and the rest is history. He had a up and down (mostly down) year but was held back by pre-millenium play calling and a turnstile O line. He flashed a great arm and was much more mobile than scouts said he was coming out of school. He's the calmest person I've ever seen (almost to a fault), and he was a good soldier all year. The fans are still behind him 100%.

Christian Kirk: Our most impressive rookie, Kirk came in an established him as the WR2 and the presumed heir to Fitz. Rosen and Kirk seem to have a great connection and until he was hurt in December was in the top 3 rookie receptions and yards. This is also a feel good story as he's an AZ native who grew up idolizing Fitz. Kirk was really the only receiver that provided much excitement with the ball in his hands and is the best punt returner we've had in years.

Mason Cole: Drafted as a backup C, he was thrust into the starting role after starting center A.Q. Shipley tore his ACL during camp. Cole has a reputation about being insanely durable, he was a 4 year starter in College AND high school coming into the league with 104 straight starts. All he did was continue that streak in the NFL with being the only O-lineman starting all 16 games. It's hard to grade Cole as he played with a new offensive line combination almost every week, the O-line was embarrassing all year. Trying to focus on his performance, I think most people are happy with it, and being able to tough it out and start 16 games in his rookie year seems like a positive platform to jump from going into his 2nd year.

Chase Edmonds: Chase proved to be a solid spell option, he should be a complimentary piece to DJ going forward these next few years. He helped by contributing on special teams this year as well with 9 ST tackles (2nd on the team).

Christian Campbell: Didn't make the team. Signed by the Saints practice squad.

Korey Cunningham: Korey was a pleasant surprise, performing well in his 6 starts. (Ideally we don't lose 3 other tackles to see him, but alas). Korey played himself into the conversation to take on starting RT duties next year. He sat out the last 2 games of the year with a foot injury.

Free Agents

Larry is coming back so we're already winning the offseason.

Notable FAs

Player Pos Type Notes
Mike Iupati LG UFA Was a "big free agent" signing many moons ago. Has had constant injury problems his entire tenure with the cardinals and never played 16 games in his 4 seasons here. Can't imagine we will re-sign him.
Deone Bucannon OLB UFA Deone is a very interesting case. Out 2014 1st round pick was one of the first "dollar backers" who were converted college safeties that played at linebacker. He did well when we were in the 3-4 his first 4 years. He's had moderate injury issues but was a pretty successful LB. This past year when we switched to a 4-3 Deone could barely get on the field. He was visibly not a Wilks fan
Tre Boston S UFA Tre was one of our best graded players, but personally I saw him mess up in coverage a ton, but he got along with the team and I think he enjoyed his time here. I doubt he comes back as we picked up Swearinger late in the year who is a better player. Unless the plan is to have Baker play nickel a ton again this year (where we would need another safety opposite Swearinger) Boston probably won't get a great offer from us
Markus Golden DE UFA Markus is a very interesting situation, you can never have enough good DEs, and he was great for us 2 years ago but didn't quite get back to where he wanted this past year. I imagine we'll give him an offer to stay and we have a solid amount of cap space, but a good DE can usually do very well on the open market and we just signed Brooks Reid off the Cards who is also a DE so I don't know if they view that as a replacement to Golden.
Benson Mayowa DE UFA Mayowa was part of the defensive end rotation this year generally getting the "start", he's a pretty solid player but things are getting messy at DE with the Reed signing, Golden also being a FA and Bosa waiting at the top of the draft board
Ricky Seals-Jones TE ERFA Had way too many drops, flashed some athletic skills throughout the year but wayyy too inconsistent. I doubt he gets resigned. The cards need a TE.

Depth FAs

Player Pos Type Notes
Phil Dawson K UFA Time to retire possibly. Was quite the disappointment in his time in the desert.
Gerald Hodges ILB UFA Started 6 games, produced pretty well. Average starter.
Rodney Gunter DT UFA The former small school unknown commodity has been a pretty solid contributor in his 4 years here. I imagine he may get a better offer somewhere else this offseason.
J.J. Nelson WR UFA If you play fantasy you've probably heard of him, speed guy but has had a hard time establishing himself as a complete WR
John Wetzel G RFA I think they'll definitely tender him, a great swiss army depth OL to have
Olsen Pierre DT RFA Had a tough time with injuries but was playing pretty well 2 years so
D.J. Foster RB/WR RFA Was having a good preseason on ST and reserve RB. Tore his ACL.
Joe Barksdale RT UFA Started 4 games for us late in the season after being released by the Chargers. Fun fact, his last game as a Charger was against the Cards. He was released mid-season so that's all you have to know really.

*Other: John Phillips - TE, Derrick Coleman - FB, Oday Aboushi - G, Zach Moore - DE, Jeremy Vujnovich - LT, Jeremy Cash - OLB, Gabe Martin - ILB, Daniel Munyer - C, Darrell Daniels - TE

Pre Week 1

Training Camp Notes

Coming off an 8-8 season with Blaine Gabbert and Drew Stanton at QB for the majority of games was confusing for fans, we weren't sure how good we were. Our defense still played very well in 2017, and we just hired a defensive head coach so there was cautious skepticism that this may be a more competitive year than outside media thought. We had David Johnson back after missing the entire previous year with a broken wrist, and Bradford backed up by a first round QB. Some of the popular storylines this year were the receivers outside of Larry, who would be the CB opposite Pat P (A training camp storyline for the 42nd year in a row, one that stops this year as we already signed Robert Alford to start as CB2), and how our LBs and DBs would be used.

Preseason Results

Week 1: Los Angeles Chargers 17 @ Arizona Cardinals 24

David Johnson had 2 rushes and looked great. Boy was that nice to see again. The 2 most uncertain positions going into the season was CB2 and WR2 and there was no good distinctions that came from this game. We were outgained in yards 387 - 174 which seems appropriate looking back. Bradford attempted 1 pass and Rosen looked not great in his first NFL action ever

Week 2: Arizona Cardinals 20 @ New Orleans Saints 15

The cards D looked great, 2nd game in a row with 4 turnovers (mostly against Taysom Hill). The Cards 1st team looked great on their 1 drive with Bradford going perfect on an opening TD drive. Chad Williams and Christian Kirk had a few solid grabs to start instilling some confidence in the WR depth.

Week 3: Arizona Cardinals 24 @ Dallas Cowboys 3

In the "dress rehearsal" game not that many offensive starters on either side of the ball played. Zeke and Dak didn't play for the Cowboys, DJ didn't see the field, and Bradford didn't play (Rosen sat out the game as well). The cards defense dominated the whole game with EIGHT turnovers giving us 16 in 3 games, and what the fans thought was going to be a strength was absolutely living up to the hype.

Week 4: Denver Broncos 21 @ Arizona Cardinals 10

The low point in the season is generally the 4th game of the preseason. So far at this point in the year we're feeling good about our defense but have barely seen the offense. Rosen didn't play this game, Glennon played the whole first half and had a decent yet uninspiring stat line. Not a lot of real news that came out of this one.

Weekly Game Recaps

Season Part 1 - The Sammy Sleeves Era (Weeks 1-3)

How long could we go with glass knees Bradford at the helm. Most fans had our week 2 contest against the Rams circled as his career end. But he shut up all the haters by making it one more week and being benched because he's not good at football and NOT because he's as strong a uncooked pasta. Good for you Sam.

Season Part 2 - Searching for a W (Weeks 4-7)

Rosen came in last week and got a couple first downs so naturally fans are ready to put him in the ring of honour. Now even with a team that doesn't look like it's going to compete, the season is officially beginning the rebuild.

Season Part 3 - Full Rebuild (Weeks 8-17)

Mike McCoy is gone, he can't hurt us anymore. I don't know how he ever gets a job again. The season is clearly a lost cause, people are playing for jobs, at least we have half a season to monitor our QB of the future.

Going in: LET'S GO, week 1, everyone tied in first. We are playing a winnable matchup to start the season and we're all excited to see what Mike McCoy has in store for our offense.

Game Review: You could watch this game 16 times and it would be about the same thing as actually watching the season. The play calling was horrid and uncreative. The Redskins dominated time of possession, and AP and Chris Thompson dominated this game. We didn't find the endzone until 5:47 left in the game. Our weak WR depth also shone brightly.

Final Score: Redskins 24 - Cardinals 6

Game Highlights
Biggest play of the game: AP CATCH(??)
Best Cardinals play: Christian Kirk punt return

Going in: The chants for McCoy and Bradford begin. The Rams have had an affinity for destroying our QBs. After the atrocious run defense in week 1, going up against Gurley was not what the doctor ordered.

Game Review: Alright 6 points in 2 games. Wicked. Look at DJ's run chart for this game. The Cards O ended with 90 passing yards and 5 first downs. David Johnson is for sure not being used correctly with 2 targets when he's probably the 2nd best WR on the team. No idea how you rank the defense after being on the field basically the whole game (They technically only had 34 minutes of possession but that seems wrong).

Final Score: Cardinals 0 - Rams 34

Game Highlights
Biggest play of the game: Big Cooper punt return
Best Cardinals play: Pat pick in the redzone

Going in: So we've scored 6 points in 2 games and we're playing the best defense in the league. Hopefully everyone hammered the under on this game. Bradford survived Donald and Suh but was going up against another monster defensive line, on top of the chatter for Rosen to be inserted amid the season slipping away in September.

Game Review: This game was actually close!(Notice I never said watchable). We started off GREAT with 2 big pass plays to Kirk and Seals-Jones for a TD. We more than double our season scoring total and were leading for the first time in 2018. And it took less than 3 minutes! After a Parkey missed FG (classic), and a Trubisky fumble we had a short field and we threw it to DJ on a go route for a TD to go up 14 zip. Bradford deciding that was enough and decided to give up on his NFL dream from that point on. The Bears made it 14-3 before half and both offences were STRUGGLING. The defensive lines of both teams were dominating. Bradford, to complete his quest, threw 2 picks and fumbled in scoring position. The Bears dinked and dunked themselves to a 16-14 lead (god this game was bad), and the coaches decided to throw Josh Rosen in with 4 minutes left in the game from our own 25 to go out and win an NFL game. He threw 2 first downs to get us to the 50 and Cardinals fans were going to explode. Alas on a 3 and 2 Mike McCoy decided a pitch to the backup RB was the right way to win the game. Rosen then threw a pick and everyone sat down and went home. I would like to officially say Trubisky isn't good though.

Final Score: Bears 16 - Cardinals 14

Game Highlights
Biggest play of the game: Bears D highlights
Best Cardinals play: RSJ with the first Cards TD of the year

Going in: 6 games played and 1 game won between these rivals so far in 2018. The Rosen era was upon us though so Cards fans were ready to go. That's really all this game was about, Seattle was coming to town hungry after starting 0-2 and getting back on track last week against Dallas. Bradford was inactive (released a few weeks later). Another interesting factor in this game is what in the world was happening with our CB2 and LBs. Jamar Taylor got benched in the loss to the Bears last week for Bene Benwikere and Haason Reddick and Bucannon were also rarely playing (yes our 2 first round LBs).

Game Review: The Cards were looking much better this game, DJ was getting his touches and being productive and the Cards were stacking up first downs. Seattle opened the scoring when Wilson was lead blocker to a Mike Davis TD where Wilson trucked Bethea, but they also missed 2 field goals in the first half. The Cards Dline was doing great against Seattle and stopped them on a 4th and 1 right before half. Rosen took them into scoring position but Dawson missed. We can't have things go right. The teams traded 2nd half TD to find ourselves with a tied game at 17 with 1:51 and crickety Phil wheelchaired his ass out there and missed another FG. Seahawks had a short field and Sebastian redeemed his earlier missed. Omg the kicking was atrocious. We lost but the game was watchable. Moral victories count in seasons like this.

Final Score: Seahawks 20 - Cardinals 17

Game Highlights
Biggest play of the game: Wilson lead blocks for the opening score of the game
Best Cardinals play: Rosen's first career TD to tie the game

Going in: Ok so the Cards played better, Rosen is being confident and our last 2 games have been a FG difference. People still make the playoffs at 0-4 right? Cards run D has been putrid so far

Game Review: Sweet baby jesus we won a game. The defense did great and we ended with a +5 turnover differential but needed them as they couldn't get off the field all day. The offense looks like it took a step back from the last 2 weeks. Bucannon didn't play a snap so the LB drama was as real as ever

Final Score: Cardinals 28 - 49ers 18

Game Highlights
Biggest play of the game: Bynes scoop and score
Best Cardinals play:A bomb to Kirk

Going in: Our run defense and offense is atrocious. But we're coming off our first season win after playing 2 close games the weeks before so I think every Cardinals fan was telling themselves that we were still in this.

Game Review: The Vikings came into the game with the 2nd worst rush offense, going up against our defense was just what they needed to get on the right page. Our offense sucked, our defense was on the field so much and was just getting gassed. The positive momentum we've garnered so far evaporated.

Final Score: Cardinals 17 - Vikings 27

Game Highlights
Biggest play of the game:the Kirk dance
Best Cardinals play:Chandler/Budda pair for a TD

Going in: So first truly bad overall game in a month, if the offense can just get a little bit going maybe we can salvage this season. The calls for McCoys job are deafening.

Game Review: This is where we lost the season. What a shit show. Rosen has been bad for a few weeks now. Miller was a monster this game with 2 strip sacks in the game. This was an injection to the Broncos season and the final straw in ours. There isn't much to say

Final Score: Broncos 45 - Cardinals 10

Game Highlights
Biggest play of the game: Watch how the game started above
Best Cardinals play: Peterson pick

Going in: MIKE MCCOY IS DEAD. Byron Leftwich is promoted to OC, he spent 2 season under BA so we're hoping a little more creativity should show up on Sunday. Nothing helps like playing the 49ers.

Game Review: This was a close game between 2 horrid teams. Chandler was a monster again, and Leftwhich's first game as the man in charge was definitely more exciting. I think DJ ran off-tackle once. The offensive difference really showed in the 4th quarter with 185 yards of offense. The defense had a huge stop and limited the 49ers to a FG in the red zone, and Rosen engineering a late game comeback (link below) and was probably the best series of the year for Cardinals fans. It's always nice to be in a close game.

Final Score: 49ers 15 - Cardinals 18

Game Highlights
Biggest play of the game:Rosen's game winning drive
Best Cardinals play:Fitz's first spike ever

Going in: So far we've had 1 game with Leftwich as OC and already a marketed improvement. Let's see if he can take advantage of a bad KC defense.

Game Review: We actually played well against the darlings of the NFL. Tyreek got loose on the Chiefs first possession but was not THAT explosive the rest of the game besides his 2nd TD. Josh had the ball in a one score game with 12 minutes left. 2 4th quarter comebacks in a row? No he threw a pick. But we played them tough, a sign that Wilks was still getting his players to try..

Final Score: Cardinals 14 - Chiefs 26

Game Highlights
Biggest play of the game: Tyreek is fast
Best Cardinals play:DJ with a STRIKE from Josh

Going in: Winnable game against the only team with a worse record than us! What a perfect set up for disappointment!

Game Review: DJ has started getting going. Josh threw a disgusting interception early that Carr was able to capitalize on with a sweet double move with Cook. They ended up jumping back in the lead with consecutive TD drives with passses to Fitz and Kirk. Fitz got another TD later (his only 2 catches went for scores) to get the game o 21-20 Cards. Another close game between 2 bad teams. Andy Lee has an amazing punt go to the Raiders 2 yard line with under 3 minutes to go. The Raiders got out of that, the Cards O stalled, and the Raiders got the ball back again with a minute left. A couple dropped intercetions on the final drive sealed our fate as Derek brought his team into FG range and won it as the clock expired.

Final Score: Raiders 23 - Cardinals 21

Game Highlights
Biggest play of the game: Carr gets them into FG range
Best Cardinals play: Kirk's best play of the season

Going in: I made it to my yearly cards game, not as excited as other years! Interesting to see the game in LA, Tailgate was embarrassingly small, probably 1000 people. There were probably more Cards fans in the stadium, which is wild because I don't think that happens anywhere else. Silver lining of the Cards being bad is people basically give away the tickets.

Game Review: It started off GREAT, 10-0 Cards! Upset time! Then I blacked out on Golden Road Mango IPAs and lots of bad stuff started happening. Byron seems to have lost his flair as a play caller and the Chargers just grinded their way to 45 points. Lol. 45 points.

Final Score: Cardinals 10 - Chargers 45

Game Highlights
Biggest play of the game: Chargers sweep TD
Best Cardinals play: Opening TD

Going in: There's no more going in highlights. Season isn't going well and we have to go play in Lambeau. Time to blow for Bosa.

Game Review: We are good at getting coaches fired. I don't know why the Packers didn't force Aaron Jones down our throat all day, he was getting chunk plays all day. After a solid punt return the Packers got on the board first, then the Cards answered with a decent drive. Both O lines had a rough day in pass protection, the running games were working and Chase Edmonds has 2 rushing scores. Andy Lee is an amazing punter. 17-17 with 5 minutes left in the game. We're on our own 11 yard line and it's 3rd and 23, Josh finds Fitz for an amazing catch and we get into FG range and win. In Green Bay. Still doesn't feel like that sentence is true. Rodgers had a chance to bring his team back and he got them into FG range, but kickers suck and Crosby missed it. Rodgers < Rosen? As much as losing for the #1 pick is probably a better play for the future of the franchise, winning feels nice.

Final Score: Cardinals 20 - Green Bay 17

Game Highlights
Biggest play of the game: Huge 3rd down 4th Q conversion
Best Cardinals play: The least athletic QB run of the year

Going in: Why do the Lions and Cards play so often? Cards came into the game with 1 forced turnover in the previous 5 games.

Game Review: Holy this was a horrible game. Lions had 13 injuries, Zane single-doinked a 50 yard kick (we were the only team in the NFL who didn't hit a 50+ FG so far this season. We hit 1 in week 17)

Final Score: Lions 17 - Cardinals 3

Game Highlights
Biggest play of the game: Slay pick 6
Best Cardinals play:Trent caught a ball. Yes this is the Cardinals highlight.

Going in: Another game between 2 bad teams.It's the first time the Cardinals will have started the same offensive line two games in a row since the 49ers home game/at Minnesota Oct. 7 and 14. And it's not a good five.

Game Review: Do we have to keep writing the same review each week? Cards run D is horrendous, the whole offense is bad, and the possibility of Wilks only making it 1 season are starting. Mike Glennon came into this game at 1 point.

Final Score: Cardinals 14 - Falcons 40

Game Highlights
Biggest play of the game:Falcons pick 6
Best Cardinals play:Fitz truck stick

Going in: God I hate the Rams. Please don't hurt Josh. Last home game of the year.

Game Review: We got outscored 65-9 in our 2 games with the Rams this year. This was fairly close for a bit actually. In the middle of the 2nd quarter we ran an imaginative play for the first time all year and Fitz threw a perfect pass to DJ for a score. That was fun and it made it 14-10 Rams. Sorry 14-9, we missed the XP.

Final Score: Rams 31 - Cardinals 9

Game Highlights
Biggest play of the game:C.J. in open space
Good Cardinals play: A fake punt!
Best Cardinals play: A Fitz -> DJ TD!

Going in: Mercifully this season gets to end.

Game Review: I didn't know many of the Cardinals playing. It was close I guess, Seahawks won on a last second FG. It's been depressing writing all of these.

Final Score:Cardinals 24 - Seahawks 27

Game Highlights
Biggest play of the game: Carson big run
Best Cardinals play: New addition Cooper with a big punt return

Coaching Staff Review

Courtesy of u/HSPUMBLOOM I can't believe we're writing a coaching exit section for the second year in a row. The 15th one and done head coaching season in NFL history, this was a terrible era. Some interesting stories came out after the season, it seems like Wilks gave ownership the impression that he would implement the defense that was best suited for his personnel, not forcing the zone, 4-3 scheme he was known for. The damage this hire has done to the franchise will take a few years to correct with the hiring of Kliff Kingsbury. It cannot be understated how much Wilks had to go. No signs of improvement in anyone, disgruntled players asking for trades, rookie QB getting hurt for literally no reason. Honestly I would put Wilks down as one of the worst head coaches of the decade. The defense had been built to play 3-4 man to man for the last 5 years and suddenly players were being asked very different responsibilities. On the offensive side of the ball we hired an OC that was fired mid-season the year before for being a bad OC. So that worked out as well and it looks on paper.

This is not a comprehensive list

Losses

Coach Name Seasons w Team New Job Review
Head Steve Wilks 1 Browns DC What a joke. Had I known his catchphrase would have been “We just didn’t execute”, I would have never liked this hire. Complete inability to manage players correctly. Sitting Haason Reddick and Deone Bucannon randomly is a prime example of how Wilks was totally out of his depth. Letting Rosen get hurt on a meaningless play against the Broncos pretty much sealed Wilks’ fate early in the season. Some people will argue he didn’t get a fair shake and deserves a second year. Those people are wrong.
Offensive Coord. Mike McCoy 1 None I hope The only thing funnier than Wilks getting hired is this clown. If there was a being made of pure lack of football skill, it’s this chucklehead. Every interview was hard to watch, every time David Johnson ran up the middle I shedded a tear, every time I saw this bozo in his visor I wanted to gag. Awful football mind and I hope he never gets another job in the NFL.
Offensive Coord./QB Byron Leftwich 2 Buccaneers OC The one who took over for McCoy after he was fired, there was really not much improvement with Leftwich. Whether that was because he still had McCoys playbook or he’s still young in the coaching scene remains to be seen, and I hope he has a good career in Tampa Bay.
Defensive Coord. Al Holcomb 1 Browns LB coach Probably didn’t have much to do since Wilks was controlling the defense, but still garbage.
RB Kirby Wilson 1 Raiders RB David Johnson didn’t look good, but Chase Edmunds did. The guy didn’t return though.
OL Ray Brown 1 n/a Offensive Line continues to be garbage. Injuries didn’t help but neither did this guy.
TE Jason Michael 1 Colts TE Tight ends looked even worse than with BA. Ricky Seals-Jones took a step back this year.

Retentions

Coach Name Seasons w Team Notes
Special Teams Jeff Rodgers 1 Our special teams unit was much better this year. Some decent punt returns that never happened before, pretty good kick coverage, and no bad snaps. We don't blame him for kickers being terrible. Andy Lee was a highlight of this season, and Zane Gonzalez will hopefully be a reliable kicker for years to come. A bright spot in a horrific season, Jeff Rodgers special teams are welcomed back with open arms.
S&C Buddy Morris 6 Strength and Conditioning is a tough thing to measure. The Cardinals have had some rough injuries over the years of Morris tenure.

Additions

This was a very interesting hiring process as it seems like Keim hired most of the staff through his own connections, with Kliff meeting them based on his recommendations. I have no idea how the chemistry between these coaches is going to work but Keim I'm sure is pulling out all the tricks he can think of to try and save his job.

Coach Title Old Job Notes
Head Kliff Kingsbury Texas Tech HC Finally our savior is here. Kliff Kingsbury has been hired by the Cardinals, after leaving USC and before that Texas Tech. His record at the college level isn’t all that great, but his infamous Air Raid offense has undoubtedly put up big numbers, and bigger names. Kliff has worked with Mahomes, Mayfield, Webb to name a few. The hope is that Kliff helps Rosen take the next step, and put up big numbers in a pass heavy offense. Ownership has done a total 180 with this hire, realizing that the 2018 team was bleeding fans and ticket sales hard. This is an exciting time to be a Cardinals fan.
Defense Vance Joseph Broncos HC A former head coach is the best person they could have gotten for this spot. Vance Joseph has been at the top for two years prior, bringing experience on the defensive side of the ball. Honestly all Joseph has to do it switch the scheme back to a 3-4 and he’s done a good job. If he can play to his players strengths, this defense will return to its former glory.
Pass game/QB Tom Clements Packers Assis. HC A hire we are all very excited about, Clements had a hand in what Aaron Rodgers is today. Since the Cardinals aren’t rolling with an OC (As Kliff will be calling the plays), Clements will focus on one aspect of the offense, and developing Rosen.
RB James Saxon Steelers RB Another very hyped hire, Saxon was around with Le'veon Bell and James Conner. An experienced NFL coach was a need on this staff, and Saxon is one of those guys. If he can return David Johnson to 2016 form, his job is done.
OL Sean Kugler Broncos OL Another experienced member, Kugler’s job will be a daunting one. The offensive line is the main weakness of this team, so we’ll have to see what Kugler can do with very little.

Roster Review: Offense

QB | Sam Bradford

One of my least favorite QBs ever joined the team. Couldn't practice every day in trainig camp/season because of his knee and played uninspiried football in his brief tenure with us. Retire and go home.

QB | Josh Rosen

We went into the analysis of Rosen a little in the draft pick review section but to re-iterate, he looked ok and moved better than he did in college. He kind of remind me of Trubisky's rookie year, whereas they make bone headed decisions often but can throw a great ball a few times a game. Very much QB of the future but has some big steps to take if we're going to contend for the playoffs next year.

RB | David Johnson

He came back! He didn't look as elite as he did 2 years ago but I think most fans blame the offensive scheme and swiss cheese Oline rather than deteriorating skill. When he was in space he looked as spry as ever, but space was hard to come by as the offensive play calling was worse than a 6 year old defaulting to ask madden on every plan.

RB | Chase Edmonds

A great complementary piece to DJ, had some pretty nice highlights over the course of the year. With the nature of the RB position expet to see him have some big games in the next couple years.

WR | Larry Fitzgerald

God you have to feel bad for him. But he's also made $163 million dollars so far in contract earnings so don't. Larry still has some of the best hands in the game and still a crafty route runner. He's a great mentor to the green WR core behind him.

WR | Christian Kirk

Christian was a fantastic pick, you can read a better analysis in the rookie review but he consistently made chunk plays and looks to have a bright future in this league.

WR | JJ Nelson

He was a healthy scratch the last couple games of the season so he's probably not coming back next year but he was given plenty of chances over the years to try and become a complete player and he never achieved that. Inconsistent route running and questionable hands plagued the speedster.

WR | Chad Williams

Chad was a 3rd round pick a year ago and had for the most part so far been disappointing. The Cards will be bringing in players to try and take away all his playing time.

TE | Ricky Seals-Jones

Ricky has raw talent but we didn't really see it materialize this year. There was plenty of opportunity for him to separate himself from a weak pass catching group and he didn't take advantage. He'll get another change to be a depth TE somewhere but I can't imagine we'll be bringing him back.

T | DJ Humphries

D.J. will be getting a hefty pay raise this year as the 2015 1st round pick will be playing on his 5th year option. He has looked great at points and average at others. He's never played a full season due to injury, but he can make himself a lot of money if he has a big year that all cards fans are hoping for.

T | Andre Smith

This looked like a reach of a signing last offseason as we picked up Smith from the terrible Bengals OL. Andre seemed like he was out of shape constantly and was abused on the right side of the line before we released him at the end of November.

T | John Wetzel

John has been a multi position guru with our team for years and is a fantastic depth Olineman to have on our team. He got hurt halfway through the season this year unfortunately but will most likely get a competitive offer from the Cardinals this year.

T | Korey Cunnigham

A silver lining to sucking all year is getting playing time for unknown commodities. Our 7th round rookie started 6 games for us this year and played pretty well. He will be in the conversation for starting RT spot this season.

G | Mike Iupati

As I mentioned in the FA section we will not be resigning Mike. He was disappointed in his time in AZ and is a below average starter.

G | Justin Pugh

Our big FA signing from last year only made it to mid-November before tearing his ACL. I've seen him in the media a lot this offseason so I assume rehab is going well.

C | Mason Cole

The ironman streak continues. It's hard to judge his rookie season and he had different line mates almost every game this year. He played all 16 games this year so we'll call it a success (PFF has him rated as the #34 center in the league this year).

Roster Review: Defense

DT | Robert Nkemdiche

Another first round flop by Keim and company. This guy just can't put a season together and can NOT stay healthy. If you follow him on Instagram he's a super weird dude. He's playing the last year of his first round contract so maybe he'll have a good year so he can make some money in 2020.

DT | Rodney Gunter

Rodney had his best season to date, and athletic DTs are always a good commodity. He ended the season with 4.5 sacks and 44 tackles. Would be nice to have again but I could see him getting a nice contract on the open market.

DT | Cory Peters

As team captain, Peters lived up as one of the leaders of the locker room with consistent effort and play all season. He ended the season with a respectable 51 tackles on the season with 2.5 sacks. Signed for a couple more years and we're happy to have him.

DT | Olsen Pierre

Pierre had a great 2017 with 5.5 sacks, but only started 1 game this year and appeared in only 10 games. He may have been a victim of the scheme change and was in Wilks' doghouse.

DE | Chandler Jones

Probably the most underrated defensive end in the league. This guys stats are crazy, and watching him play is a treat every Sunday. He has so many pass rush moves, never complains, tries every plan even though he got his big contract and is a great teammate. The Pats are insane to have let him go, he's a game wrecker that doesn't get enough credit. I'm sure Seahawks fans can acknowledge how much of a beast he is as he always seems to step up against the seachickens.

DE | Markus Golden

After leading the team in sacks 2 years ago with 12.5 everyone was excited about Markus playing across Chandler again. It took him a while to get back on the field. Hoping for the best for him still, will likely sign a prove it deal this year I would think, possibly back in Arizona.

DE | Benson Mayowa

Benson played the most across from Chandler this year and did well on his 1 year contract. I would love to see him re-signed and be a part of the rotation, but capable D ends are hard to hold onto.

ILB | Josh Bynes

I love Bynes, I think he's such a good player and pops on screen consistently. He's under contract the next couple years and hope he can battle father time for a few more seasons to lead the middle of the defense.

ILB | Deone Bucannon

I'm pretty sure despised Wilks. Hope we can have him back as we go back to the 3-4 where he succeeded as a ILB.

ILB | Haason Reddick

Was drafted 1 spot after Desean Watson, and if the Texans didn't leap frog us probably would have been Watson instead of Haason. He has struggled to live up to the hype of a first round pick but will be going into his 3rd defense in 3 years which is always tough. Had a few splash plays this year and the Cards have to still believe in his talent after picking him at 13 2 years ago.

DB | Patrick Peterson

Pat has been one of the best man cover corners since he entered the league. So Wilks decided to have him play zone all year. Once again Pat wasn't tested very much and played great when he had to. There was the drama of his mid season trade request but luckily Bidwell seemed to have calm him down and reassured him of the direction of the franchise. I'm very interested if or when it comes out on Pat's opinions about Wilks. He recently apologized to fans for the mid season trade request which was unnecessary since no one was faulting him for that. For what it's worth the Cardinals have been pretty successful in Pats years in the league so he could have it a lot worse (see Thomas, Joe)

DB | Jamar Taylor

He came over from Cleveland and was supposed to be the answer opposite Pat. He played in 10 games, only starting 3 and was released mid season.

DB | Bene Benwikere

Bene took over for Taylor in week 3 of the season and I thought was playing pretty well. After looking online a little the PFF grades say he started off the season playing well, but then fell off dramatically. Still a surprise cut, he seemed to have a good depth, I imagine it was a personality thing with Wilks. I can't believe we cut him and not Brandon Williams

DB | Brandon Williams

I think this is one of the 3 worst draft picks in the Keim era. He was a 3rd round pick that could never make the leap. He'll be playing the 4th year of his rookie contract, but he is a stretch to make the team.

S | Antoine Bethea

Bethea gets a lot of praise as a leader and seems like a super great guy. With that out of the way I can't count the number of times I threw a beer bottle through my living room window because Bethea missed a tackle, was embarrassing in coverage, or was just too unathletic to make the play. Great guy, but please retire. I'm putting my money on him being a cap casualty this year anyways.

S | Tre Boston

The man with possibly the longest dreads in the league played ok this year, he was a late signee and was part of the upset safety market this past offseason that felt they weren't getting their fair share of the FA money pie. He signed a 1 year prove it deal and while he made good plays and was a good tackler, he seem to blow coverage often. I would welcome him back though if the plan is to have Budda play slot for a large chunk of the year but I doubt financially that will happen.

S | Budda Baker

After a great rookie season in 2017 he regressed madly in 2018 ALTHOUGH he was given much more responsibility. He didn't flash on the screen as much this year but that's because no one outside Chandler seemed to this year. The future is still bright with Budda as he'll enter the year as the starting FS.

K | Phil Dawson & Zane Gonzalez

Kickers were atrocious this year and the desert absolutely was not an exception. I feel like Dawson has been crap in his 2 years here so I'm glad to watch another bad kicker. I've watched many Browns games over the years and Gonzalez makes my skin crawl. He played 5 games for us and missed 2 50+ yard field goals and an XP. So not AWFUL, but it would be nice to have a kicker be anything more than average. Big question mark heading into 2019

P | Andy Lee

Andy, for possibly the second year in a row, was team MVP. Thank you Andy.

LS | Aaron Brewer

You did good this year.

Team Needs/Targets

FA Targets

WR

Tyrell Williams (LAC) - Tyrell and Golden Tate highlight a lackluster FA WR class, and both will get paid. Tyrell is a big bodied outside receiver who has shown flashes on the Chargers but has been stuck behind Keenan Allen on that depth chart. IF the cards can't get Tyrell or Tate look for them to make a trade happen.
John Brown (BAL) - A return to the desert? Probably not but it's something interesting to think about, he was great for Baltimore when Flacco was playing.

DT

Sheldon Richardson (MIN) - He used to be good right?

G

Rodger Saffold (LAR) - Saffold is probably the best guard available, and if the past couple offseasons are any indication, should break the bank. The Cards spent a lot of money on G Justin Pugh last year, another big offensive line addition can't hurt and would be a welcome addition.

T

Trent Brown (NE) - The Pats love getting rid of good players, our RT spot is wide open next year and Trent is probably the bell of the Tackle ball

TE

Tyler Eifert (CIN) - Insane injury history, but we could definitely use a good pass catching tight end
Jared Cook (OAK) - Jared had a fantastic year last year and looks like he could produce at a high level for another few years

Draft Targets

I don't follow college football so I stole a few opinions from the interweb. We're not drafting Kyler
Nick Bosa (DE) - Has been the consensus #1 pick since last summer, I think the Cards would love to trade down but I don't know if they're going to get the king's ransom they're looking for. Bosa across from Chandler Jones has the ability to rocket to the best DE duo in the league.
Quinnen Williams (DT) - Apparently also a monster, we can't go wrong with him or Bosa at #1
Chris Lidstrom (OG) - Could be a day 2 selection that takes over the vacant LG spot left by Iupati
Kelvin Harmon (WR) - Need to find some receiving talent on the outside, Kelvin is a big fast talent
Dillon Mitchell (WR) - Could replace J.J. Nelson as your teams burner to stretch the defense.

Final Thoughts

The NFL is the best league in the world because of parity, and after one of the most disgraceful seasons of the millennium, there is plenty to be excited for. As much as that "have you ever met McVay, here's a HC position" joke went around this offseason, hiring a coach with a proven offensive aptitude brings a much needed change from run-up-the-middle McCoy. Vance Joseph as DC should have a great deal of control on that side of the ball and he's bringing his man to man 3-4 defense that this roster was built on. So far I've been pretty impressed with his defensive knowledge and hope our defensive M.O. comes back after a year being hung out to dry. Here's to letting it rip in 2019.

Thank you very much to u/HSPUMBLOOM for contributing and to u/therealDoctorKay for throwing this together.