Cardinals have many problem areas, especially in run defense
TEMPE — The friendly welcome for Steve Wilks as new coach of the Arizona Cardinals didn't last long.
By the second quarter of Sunday's 24-6 season-opening home loss to Washington, the fans were showering the sputtering team with boos. Wilks doesn't blame them.
"It was well-deserved, well-deserved," Wilks said Monday. "I'm disappointed in the mere fact that we couldn't put a more productive game together for our fans. We're going to make sure that we go out this week and practice hard and have a great game plan and go out and execute.
"But, the fans booing, they come there, they support us, they pay their money and they want to see a good product, and we didn't put a good product on the field yesterday."
There were problems all around in the loss, but the worst was run defense.
"Still very disappointed in how we performed. Again, it started on the defensive side of the ball," Wilks said. "I just thought it was poor run fits, a lack of execution up front, getting out of our gaps, linebackers not playing downhill and just really being 'out-physicaled' up front."
The offense was equally inept, running 14 plays in the first quarter. Arizona had the ball three times in the first half, gaining a couple of first downs on its first possession and going three-and-out on the other two.
The Redskins ran off consecutive touchdown drives of 80, 73 and 92 yards to lead 21-0 at the half.
"We just didn't play the way we are capable of playing," said safety/nickel cornerback Budda Baker, whose 11 tackles tied Josh Bynes for a team high. "They preach on staying in your gaps and doing your job and sometimes players will be out of their gaps and the next thing you know the running backs will be in their gaps."
On the first scoring drive, the Redskins had runs of 13, 14, 13, 8 and 8 yards, culminated by Alex Smith's 13-yard TD pass to Chris Thompson. The second drive, Smith did his most serious damage with short passes that turned into significant gains, including an 11-yard pass to Thompson on third-and-seven, a 22-yard pass to Jordan Reed and 10 yards to Jamison Crowder.
Adrian Peterson finished it off with three straight power runs up the middle, the last for one yard and a touchdown, the 100th rushing score of the running back's career.
The final drive was mostly Smith, who went 7-of-7 for 77 yards.
"From what I was able to see, from watching the tape, I think guys are trying to do too much instead of just trying to do their job," Wilks said. "That's what we talked about this morning, being one of 11, just trying to go out and do your job and trusting the man beside you. Guys trying to make plays when it's not their play, and they're getting out of their gaps. Then again, some of it is just using our hands, technique, those things, as well, and we're going to get it corrected this week."
They'd better. Next up on Sunday is a matchup with the reigning NFC West champion Rams in Los Angeles.
Arizona's offense did the defense no favors with its quick outs in the first half.
Falling behind so quickly forced the Arizona game plan, centered on David Johnson's running, to be thrown out.
Sam Bradford was uncharacteristically erratic, completing 20 of 34 for 153 yards with one interception.
Johnson called it "a bad game" for him, gaining 37 yards in nine carries and catching five passes for 30 yards.
Larry Fitzgerald had seven receptions for 76 yards, but the only other wide receiver with a catch was rookie Christian Kirk, who had one for four yards.
The Cardinals finally got going a little bit late in the game.
"When you get behind like that you just kind of have to start calling plays on the go and adjusting to what they're doing with us," Kirk said. "I feel like we got the ball moving a little bit at the end, so you can build off of that."