Cleat Geeks

One Hell Of A Week

A 35-point beatdown at the hands of the Denver Broncos (3-4). The subsequent firing of offensive coordinator Mike McCoy. A trade demand, then retraction, by 7-time Pro Bowler, Patrick Peterson. It’s safe to say it’s been one hell of a week for the desert Red Birds.

“We will kick their ass”, Von Miller said repeatedly during his media session leading up to last weeks Thursday night game against the Cardinals (1-6) and boy did they ever, as the Broncos pummeled the Red Birds early and often while taking a 35-3 halftime lead in Glendale. The Cardinals totaled a pathetic 82 yards in the first half, finishing with 223 in the 45-10 shellacking. It was far from good enough for Mike McCoy to keep his job as he was promptly relieved of his duties Friday morning.

To the delight of most Cardinal fans: Enter Byron Leftwich.

Will he have his own playbook? No.

Will he have new personnel blocking and catching passes for Josh Rosen? Unfortunately not.

What he will bring though is a breath of fresh air to an ailing offensive unit and a fanbase that has been desperately waiting for something to be positive about after the past week, month & season.

Byron knows exactly what Josh is going through, being a former seventh overall selection in the 2003 draft out of Marshall University by the Jacksonville Jaguars, Leftwich will try and spread the wisdom he gained over the course of his 10-year career onto the rookie franchise QB.

The second-year QB coach turned offensive coordinator is a disciple of Cardinals ex-head coach, Bruce Arians, who Rosen called a ‘ghostly legend in this building’ earlier in the week, has his hands full in trying to get David Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald right again.

After compiling 20 TDs on over 2,100 yards under Arians in 2016, while averaging 5.7 yards per touch, David has 501 total yards while averaging a putrid 4.0 yards per touch in seven games under McCoy. A few reasons for the monumental decline in production could in large part be due to the blocking, plays called and lack of touches in the receiving game.

McCoy was known to have 14 different zone blocking schemes. Word is that Leftwich will likely scale that back to about ten, similarly to what they had when Arians at the helm. Even the Cardinals are near the bottom in rush attempts, they are also first in rushes right up the middle between the guards – unheard of. That’s definitely one thing Byron can control directly through his play-calling. Expect us to move away from McCoy’s antiquated philosophy and back to trying to get Johnson in open space where he can flourish.

After averaging 5.0 catches a game in 2016 (had 6 in less than a full game last year before injuring his wrist and missing the rest of the season), DJ has 20 catches in seven games (2.9) so far during this horrendously poor offensive Cardinal season. The new Cardinal OC knows how important it is to get DJ going for this offense to be successful, so it wouldn’t be the least bit surprising if he averages closer to the five receptions per game like he did in his MVP-caliber season than the three catches a game he’s currently averaging through nearly the first half of this season.

As for Larry Fitzgerald, was a top-10 pick in the Draft one year after his new offensive was, should also see an uptick in usage after see just 41 targets this season. The 5.9 targets puts him on a pace for 93, ten shy of his career-low. Even at that, Larry has caught 63.4% of those intended targets – 26 catches, 255 yards, 1 TD – which is the fourth-best percentage in his career. “I don’t think he’s dead yet. I think it’s a lot of plays there that this man can make”, Leftwich said of the franchise leader in receptions. He went on to say, “We just got to do a better job getting him the ball…The plays are still there in him.”

A vintage Larry game is definitely needed.

Not to bury the lead, but to put a declaratory stamp on what has been the worst season in history since the team moved to the Valley over 30 years ago, shutdown cornerback and one of the few players who wears the ‘C’ on his jersey in representation of being a captain, Patrick Peterson demanded a trade by the NFL trade deadline, which is Tuesday. NFL insider Adam Schefter reported on Monday that Peterson “desperately” wants out and said Peterson feels like the situation is ‘deteriorating’ in Arizona. As i’m sure a lot of fans would agree. Still, it’s never good when one of your captains comes out and throws shade at the organization that he’s been with for what is now his eighth season in the league.

CBS Sports analyst Bryant McFadden, Larry’s cousin, confirmed the demands on twitter on Arizona Sports 98.7 earlier in the week by saying that his ideal trade destination was New Orleans.

After hearing the news on Monday, Wilks said trading Peterson was ‘out of the question’.

Once faced with the Arizona media on Wednesday after meeting with team president Michael Bidwill, Peterson backtracked his demands by saying he’s “100 percent focused on being part of the solution and helping us turn this thing around.” But he also went on to say, “I think we definitely have a clear understanding and I have two years left under my contract, so I’m here.” Not exactly the kind of glowing endorsement everyone was wanting, but the situation is what it is at this point. Don’t forget about last season when Peterson’s buddy, Deion Sanders came out on the NFL Network and said Patrick was “frustrated” and that the Cardinals should trade him to the Saints. Typically, where there’s smoke, there’s fire.

Should make for an interesting off-season. An off-season where the Cardinals will have roughly $90M to spend in free agency.

It’s only been seven games into his coaching career, but head coach Steve Wilks’ short tenure is proving the old adage, ‘you don’t want to be the guy who immediately replaces a legendary coach (Bruce Arians; winningest coach in franchise history), you want to be the guy who replaces the guy’ to be accurate thus far.

The lowly 1-6 49ers – who the Cardinals only victory is against – are on the docket for today. They just may be the exact right team for the Cardinals to get right against before Arizona enters their bye week. After that, a trip to Kansas City to face MVP candidate Patrick Mahomes and the one-loss Chiefs is on the horizon.


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