Cleat Geeks

Coaches, Receivers & Keim Among Those That Let Rosen Down In First Start

3 straight runs, 5 dropped passes, and another week that goes by without wide receiver reinforcements. The Cardinals beat themselves in rookie Josh Rosen’s first career start against Seattle last Sunday, as they let their first victory of the season slip through their grasps and right into the Seahawks arms.

Down seven midway through the fourth quarter, Rosen fired a 22-yard strike to 2nd-year-WR Chad Williams to knot the game up at 17. The touchdown was a career first for both Rosen and Williams. The defense made Seattle immediately punt back to Arizona after the TD, setting up a possible game winning drive by the rookie in his first career start.

Starting inside his own 25-yard-line with about seven minutes to go, the UCLA product drove the Cardinals down the field by going 4 for 5 and converting three first downs through the air. With over three minutes left in the tie game, the Cardinals had 1st and 10 at Seattle’s 32 yard-line, thanks in large part to their rookie franchise-QB throwing dart-like dimes all over the field. That’s where things go haywire for Cardinal fans.

Image result for Mike McCoy, Steve Wilks

Photo by; Clutchpoints

Instead of putting trust in their new face of the franchise, OC Mike McCoy and HC Steve Wilks chose to run on the next three downs to set up a 45-yard field goal for Phil Dawson, who already missed once on the afternoon. Dawson’s kick had no chance as he pushed it well right of his intended mark.

The miss gave Russell Wilson and the Seahawks offense just under two minutes to move the ball about 30 yards to set themselves up for a game winning field goal. That’s exactly what happened, as Sebastian Janikowski drilled a 52-yard field goal to seal the deal as time expired.

Even if Dawson hit the mid-range field, Wilson would’ve still received the ball with over 1:30 on the clock just needing to get in field goal range to extend the game to OT. As expected, many fans and people covering the team questioned why the coaching staff decided to take the ball out of Rosen’s hands and seem to settle for a non-chip shot field goal while leaving a decent chunk of time on the clock for the 4X pro-bowler, Russell Wilson.

“The Rosen One,” which Chad Williams called the impressive first-round pick earlier this week, finished 15 for 27 for 180 yards, to go along with 1 TD and 0 INT. Not necessarily impressive, but considering the wide receivers accounted for five drops and left roughly 100 yards (and two possible TDs) on the field due to passes they failed to haul in, Rosen did more than enough to lead his team to their first win of the season.

Coming into the game, Larry Fitzgerald was nursing a sore hamstring, leaving the door open for another WR to step up and have a big game. That wasn’t the case. It wasn’t just one or two guys, rather the group as a whole that let down Rosen, even Larry, as he had one of his worst games of his career.

Fitz finished with 3 catches for 28 yards and two, yes, TWO drops on the day. Larry has 9 full seasons of two drops or less in his illlustrous career. After his 7 catch, 76 yard performance to open the season, ‘Larry Legend’ has 8 catches for 65 yards his last three games. He has also yet to haul in a TD this season. Larry did return to practice Thursday but is still listed on the injury report as questionable with a hamstring and now a back issue. He’s fully expected to play today though.

J.J. Nelson, Christian Kirk and Ricky Seals-Jones all had bad drops to go along with Larry, leading to Rosen’s 56% completion percentage. His adjusted completion percentage (accounts for drops) was 74%, a reason why he was the highest graded player for the Cardinals on Sunday, via Pro Football Focus.

But Could The Cardinals Have Helped Rosen More?

A month ago, GM Steve Keim and the Cardinals brought wide receiver Braxton Miller – 34 receptions for 261 yards and two touchdowns in 21 career games for the Texans – for a workout. Three weeks ago, they brought in Kendall Wright – 339 catches, 3,858 yards, 11.4yds/catch, 19 TDs in 82 career games; 59 catches and 614 yards in 2017 – to do the same.

Neither player signed, but admission that the receivers room needed help was more than implied.

Image result for larry fitzgerald christian kirk

Photo by; CBS Sports

Even with Larry Fitzgerald’s slow start to the season (15 catches), he and Kirk have combined for 31 catches on 44 targets. The problem is, the three receivers behind those two have combined for well less than a catch a game. Through four games, the fifth WR on the depth chart, Trent Sherfield, has yet to even yield a target, let alone a reception. While Chad Williams hauled in his first career touchdown last week (and almost had another), that was his lone catch of the day. He and J.J. Nelson have combined for 34 yards on 3 catches so far this season.

That’s not going to cut it. And Keim knows it.

Just yesterday, Adam Schefter reported that newly released WR Rishard Matthews will visit Cleveland on Monday and the Cardinals on Tuesday. Matthews was cut by the Titans on September 27th after he demanded they drop him due to a lack of playing time. While Matthews had only three catches in three games prior to his release, he did have a combined 118 receptions and 1,740 yards (14.7 yds/catch) over the course of his two previous seasons. It’ll be interesting to see if the Browns let him leave the building without a contract on Monday.

Even though Steve Keim seems to understand just how poor the receivers room is, it’s somewhat baffling the lack of urgency he has shown to help upgrade it up to this point of the season. For at least one more week, it’ll be the same five guys that have combined for a measly 34 catches through the first quarter of the 2018 season.

 

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