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Wilks mulls unspecified changes after Cardinals’ ugly loss

November 19, 2018
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FILE - In this Nov. 18, 2018, file photo, Arizona Cardinals head coach Steve Wilks speaks after an NFL football game against the Oakland Raiders, in Glendale, Ariz. The Cardinals are reeling from their worst loss of a bad season, and the future doesn't look forgiving. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri, File)

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — A bad season got much worse for the Arizona Cardinals with a home loss to Oakland.

Embattled first-year coach Steve Wilks is mulling some changes, although he didn’t say what they were, and there’s only so much the Cardinals can do considering their injuries and the overall state of their roster.

“Right now, being 2-8, you’re open to a lot of things from a standpoint of personnel changes, things that you think will give us an opportunity to be successful and win a football game,” Wilks said at his Monday news conference.

Sunday’s 23-21 loss left three teams tied for the worst record in the NFL: the Cardinals, Oakland and San Francisco. And the remaining schedule is formidable for the Cardinals.

They play at the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday, followed by a trip to Green Bay the following week. There are also games at Atlanta and the season finale at Seattle. Arizona has only two remaining home games — Dec. 9 against Detroit and Dec. 23 against the Los Angeles Rams.

The Cardinals’ chances for many more, if any, victories seem slim, especially if play doesn’t improve.

“It’s not playing smart, just beating ourselves,” veteran safety Antoine Bethea said after the game. “That’s the most frustrating thing about it. Week in and week out, it’s just like the same thing.”

A positive aspect of the mistake-laded Arizona effort was the continued resurgence of David Johnson.

The dynamic back rushed for a season-best 137 yards, 53 of them on a run that set up Josh Rosen’s 5-yard TD pass to Larry Fitzgerald that put Arizona up 21-20 with 5:02 to play. Johnson had a 57-yard touchdown run called back by a holding call against tight end Ricky Seals-Jones.

It was one of several Arizona mistakes in the game’s final minutes. Jermaine Gresham was called for unnecessary roughness and Josh Bynes dropped an interception.

The Cardinals allowed Oakland, with no timeouts, to drive 63 yards in the final 1:53, setting up Daniel Carlson’s decisive 35-yard field goal as the game ended.

Rosen threw for three touchdowns — two to Fitzgerald — but was intercepted twice, both picks leading to first-half touchdowns. Rosen had only nine completions in 20 attempts for 136 yards.

“I think a lot of it is just the mental errors across the board on offense and defense,” Rosen said of the team’s performance. “I know I had a bunch. Just little mental errors that aren’t a part of the game plan. Dumb little things we just have to clean up overall.”

Why is a team making those mistakes 10 games into a season? Nobody seemed to have a good answer.

“That’s why it’s an issue that was brought up because it’s very late in the season,” Rosen said. “That’s a good point.”

It’s been a rough introduction for Wilks to life as an NFL head coach.

“No. 1, you have to learn how to persevere,” he said. “It’s tough. You have to learn how to hit the reset button and not linger on things because, once again, one loss can turn into two. I try to pull out the positives and try to learn from the negative stuff and try to get those guys to see the big picture.”

Wilks said he knew it would be a tough job when he was hired.

“Did I expect to be where we are? No, but again you have to learn how to persevere” he said. “You have to learn how to continue to push and be that example. I am not going to quit. That’s what I just told the guys, and neither are they. We’re going to find a way to get on track and win a football game.”

Arizona was last 2-8 in 2006. That team finished 5-11 and coach Dennis Green was fired.

Notes: The Cardinals released kicker Matt McCrane, who had been signed Saturday and was active for the Raiders game in place of Phil Dawson, who had been bothered by a hip injury. Dawson is fine and will be back this week, Wilks said. ... Wilks said LB Deone Bucannon sustained a chest contusion in the game and it’s not known how much time he might miss.

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