Cardinals’ Wilks savors first win, knows work must be done

Sports Xchange

“I thought we did some good things well. There’s a lot of things we need to correct in all three phases,” Wilks said of the Cardinals’ 28-18 road win against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday. “But it’s good to correct those things coming off a win.”

The corrections needed that Wilks talked about include David Johnson rushing for only 55 yards because the offensive line struggled. Rookie Josh Rosen had a promising performance but he also had problems with some overthrows and his receivers dropped passes.

Rosen missed an opportunity to connect with Larry Fitzgerald for a 35-yard gain in the first half. The former UCLA quarterback blamed himself for much of the offensive problems.

“I didn’t get a lot of training-camp reps and stuff, so we’re working our kinks out now,” Rosen said.

The Cardinals, who play at the defensive-minded Minnesota Vikings on Sunday, have gained no more than 263 yards in a game this season and have converted only 26 percent of their third downs.

Rosen’s 75-yard touchdown connection with fellow rookie Christian Kirk in the first quarter last week was a highlight of the Cardinals’ win but the Cardinals gained only 145 yards of total offense after that play.

San Francisco ran 92 plays and managed 447 yards of total offense against an Arizona defense that balanced that with five takeaways.

Wilks knows of the criticism Arizona (1-4) has received despite the win over the 49ers.

“To be quite honest, I try keep the outside noise outside, and focus on the guys here in the building,” Wilks said. “I felt good for everybody. The coaches and the players have been working so hard trying to get this one win.”

Despite the lack of statistical production, Johnson still got a game ball for working hard, Wilk said. The coach also had a game ball as a keepsake from his first win as an NFL coach. His players embraced him and congratulated him toward the end of the game.

“The guys were happy for me, but, again, I’m happy for them. We’re all in this together,” said Wilks, who also received a congratulatory phone call from Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera, his previous boss.

“Coach Rivera called me on the plane, which I really appreciated that,” Wilks said.

Some of the Arizona media labeled the win over the 49ers as “ugly.”

“Man, I don’t care what victory you call it,” safety Tre Boston said, “as long as you call it a victory.”

–RT Andre Smith has been hampered by an elbow injury most of the season, but he is now suffering from a hamstring pull. He only played in 67 percent of the snaps against San Francisco last week.

–WR Larry Fitzgerald, who has been nursing a hamstring pull, was targeted only three times Sunday. He had two receptions for 35 yards.

–WR Kendall Wright was signed Monday to a one-year contract. To make room on the roster, the Cardinals released cornerback Deatrick Nichols. In six years, Wright has played in 82 games. He has 339 receptions for 3,858 yards (averaging 11.4 yards per catch) and 19 touchdowns. The Baylor product was drafted by the Titans in the first round of the 2012 draft. He spent five seasons in Tennessee, a season in Chicago, and had most recently been signed by the Vikings, before he was cut on Sept. 1.

–DT Robert Nkemdiche (foot) missed practice Friday after having injury issues during the week and was inactive against San Francisco last week. His availability this week at Minnesota is questionable.

–DE Markus Golden was also inactive against the 49ers because of a knee injury. He also missed practice last week and his status for Sunday’s game against the Vikings is undetermined.