Wilks under fire in Cardinals’ disappointing season
After losing to what was the worst team in the NFL, the Oakland Raiders, first-year Arizona Cardinals coach Steve Wilks is feeling the heat from fans and media that he may have a one-year-and-done career there.
“They should be (displeased),” Wilks said about the Cardinals’ fans after the Raiders beat Arizona 23-21 to win only their second game of the season. “Again, disappointed in our performance. Going to try to do everything we can to get on track.
“We have great fans, and they deserve better. I talked about that earlier in the year. We have to find a way to turn this thing around and get on the right track.”
The Cardinals are now 2-8 like the Raiders. They are tied for last with the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC West.
Wilks has tried to make adjustments throughout the season to help weather the storm. He has authorized multiple personnel changes, including at quarterback and offensive coordinator.
A couple hours after Wilks met with the media Monday, news broke that the Cardinals were releasing veteran cornerback Jamar Taylor, who got beat on the Raiders’ first touchdown of the game. Other changes could be made up front on the offensive line, with rookie Korey Cunningham possibly starting at right tackle and forcing veteran Andre Smith to the bench.
Wilks is hoping the Cardinals do not fall to 2-9, which would match the franchise’s worst start since the 2006 and 1997 Cardinals, who lost nine of their first 11 games.
Wilks has also adjusted meeting times and practice regimens to find the right mix for the Cardinals.
“We’ve done that the last couple of weeks, particularly with Byron (Leftwich) taking over (as offensive coordinator), and implementing a little bit more walkthrough time, restructuring practice on how we do things, the number of reps and adding an extra walkthrough,” Wilks said. “We’re trying to change things up. We’re trying to keep the guys engaged. We’re trying to get them out of the meeting rooms, get them moving around a little bit. I am constantly trying to evolve and come up with new ideas.”
Wilks also said he continues to be a coach his players can look up to for resolve in the midst of a bad season.
“(Losing) hasn’t changed me from a standpoint of my approach with the guys,” Wilks said. “I continue to be the same guy regardless of that because I think that is what they’re looking for. They’re looking for consistency, and it starts with me. Am I disappointed? Extremely. When I step in front of those guys, I need to make sure I’m leading them in the right direction, and I’m giving those guys the things that they need — the vision, expectations — and I do that the same with the coaches as well.”
–LB Deone Bucannon left Sunday’s game early with a chest contusion, and Wilks said he was unsure how much time Bucannon will miss.
–S Budda Baker (knee and foot) also missed the game against the Raiders. Wilks said he was hopeful Baker will return Sunday against the Los Angeles Chargers.
–DT Robert Nkemdiche (calf) sat out the game against Oakland. His status for the game against the Chargers is uncertain.
–PK Phil Dawson (hip) is expected back this week. With him expected to return, the Cardinals released Matt McCrane on Monday. An undrafted rookie free agent, McCrane spent training camp with the Cardinals and was 3-for-3 on extra points on Sunday.
–CB Jamar Taylor was reportedly released. Taylor was beat by tight end Jared Cook on the Raiders’ first touchdown, a 23-yard pass deep right. He played just half of the snaps, with Leonard Johnson getting in the mix. Johnson was signed last week. Taylor, a six-year veteran, was traded to the Cardinals from the Browns in May for a sixth-round draft pick in 2020.