After a Week 1 debacle, can the Cardinals season be saved?
Can a win in Vegas get them right back to square one? The ol’ reset button when things start going terribly wrong in Madden?
A win would help but the Cardinals lost this season not in Week 1 but in Week 0 - the offseason.
The Cardinals offseason laid the groundwork for their no show against the Chiefs and very well could against the Raiders.
Did the Cardinals have injuries? Yes, absolutely. Beating the Chiefs without JJ Watt, Rondale Moore, Trayvon Mullen and Justin Pugh was not going to happen.
Injuries and Vance Joseph can’t be allowed to be used as shields to protect the real problems with the Cardinals franchise: their leadership.
The Cardinals failed to confront their failures from last season during the offseason. They ran from their failures. They hid from it. They pretended it didn’t happen.
They rewarded lucrative contract extensions to General Manager Steve Keim and Head Coach Kliff Kingsbury, despite their direct involvement as the architect and leader of the collapse.
They largely sat out free agency - doubling down on a roster they viewed as good enough and repeatedly passing on chances to upgrade their secondary and pass rush.
They passed on using their first round pick and traded it for Maquise Brown who returned pennies on the dollar in Week 1 compared to AJ Brown, Davante Adams and Tyreek Hill.
Instead of fostering growth to Kyler Murray’s leadership, they lavished him with a contract extension and then publicly humiliated him.
Players who earned more were told to take a hike: Jordan Hicks, Chandler Jones and Christian Kirk.
Players who didn’t earn more were given more: Isaiah Simmons, Zaven Collins and DJ Humphries.
The Cardinals tried to show up for the regular season like nothing has happened since last November when they were 10-2.
Instead of confronting reality and setting a tone from Day 1 in Training Camp that last year’s team failed, the Cardinals have spent most of their time since the Rams Wild Card beatdown inexplicably taking a victory lap.
Instead of turning up the heat during training camp, Kliff Kingsbury turned the burner off. The entire training camp was one long veteran’s day off.
When their delusional offseason approach didn’t work in Week 1, the Cardinals cited three different reasons why:
First, Kliff Kingsbury cited their practice habits and sense of urgency. This was rich coming from a coach that lost to the Detroit Lions, Carson Wentz and an eliminated Seahawks team with the postseason seeding hanging in the balance. Is Kliff unaware he’s the head coach? That he was the one who canceled a joint training camp practice with the Titans when those style practices are considered the gold standard of season prep in every other NFL coaching office? That he is allowed to demand more from the Cardinals?
Second, Isaiah Simmons cited details and poor communication as the reason the defense was laughably bad at home. Were details not covered in the Klub Kliff training camp? Did the head coach forget to check in on whether the defense had been formally introduced to each other? And why was Simmons rewarded with the green dot? His performance on Sunday likely earned him a scarlet letter.
Lastly, Kyler Murray openly spoke about scheme and more targets for their best WR, Hollywood Brown. Did the head coach/offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach forget you are allowed to run specific plays for specific players? Does he know you’re also allowed to draw up different plays year to year, you know, mix it up a little?
The Cardinals were clueless on the field last Sunday and even more so when trying to explain it this week.
The Cardinals can fix their problems but it has nothing to do with beating the Raiders on Sunday, which they are capable of doing. The only solution for what ails this franchise is to make a change in their fatally flawed leadership of Steve Keim and Kliff Kingsbury.
Clearly, that is not going to happen anytime soon so even though it's only Week 2, it already feels like its too late for this version of the Cardinals.