The 0-3 Cardinals are one of only four winless teams remaining in the NFL, and they currently rank last in the league in both scoring offense and scoring defense.
There are only three winless teams remaining in the NFL.
The Arizona Cardinals are one of them.
Steve Wilks’ team has certainly earned that dubious distinction, currently ranking dead last in the NFL in both scoring offense and scoring defense. Of course, the Cardinals will attempt to reverse that trend against the Seahawks on Sunday.
Here are five things to know about the NFC West’s basement-dwellers.
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A rookie quarterback will make his first career start on Sunday.
In three starts (and three losses) this season, oft-injured veteran quarterback Sam Bradford threw for just 122.3 yards per game with two touchdowns and four interceptions. He was benched in the second half of last weekend’s home loss to the Chicago Bears after committing his third turnover, in favor of highly touted rookie Josh Rosen.
Rosen — the 10th overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft — promptly threw an interception and had another pick-six called back because of a fortunate defensive penalty.
Head coach Steve Wilks announced on Monday what most others had already assumed: Rosen will make his first career start against the Seahawks. This decision also makes fiscal sense, considering that the Cardinals could save more than $4 million in unpaid per-game bonuses by benching Bradford, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Ready or not, Rosen will grab the reins of the Cardinals’ meager offensive machine on Sunday.
Meanwhile, the Seahawks’ secondary must be licking their collective lips.
This hasn’t been the same David Johnson.
In the first three games of the 2018 season, Cardinals fans haven’t seen the guy who rushed for 1,239 yards and scored 20 touchdowns, averaging 4.2 yards per carry, in 2016. That guy went down in the 2017 season opener and missed the following 15 games with a broken wrist.
So far, Johnson — a 6-foot-1, 224-pound back from Northern Iowa — has rushed for 116 yards and scored two touchdowns in his team’s 0-3 start, averaging 3.4 yards per rush. His longest run has been 11 yards.
Still, with a confused quarterback situation and an aging Larry Fitzgerald, the Cardinals’ offense needs Johnson to be the superstar it gave a three-year, $39-million extension to this offseason. He’ll have plenty of opportunities to capitalize against a Seahawks defense that allowed 166 rushing yards and 5.2 yards per carry to Ezekiel Elliott and Co. last week.
The Cardinals still tout one of the NFL’s premier defensive backs.
Remember cornerback Patrick Peterson? The former LSU standout, 28, has made 12 tackles with an interception and a sack in his team’s first three games. In Peterson and Earl Thomas, two of the elite defensive backs in the history of the NFL will line up on opposite sidelines on Sunday (assuming Thomas decides to play). Cardinals safety and Washington alum Budda Baker has 27 tackles, tied for the team lead.
Unfortunately, the Cardinals still rank dead last in scoring defense (24.7 points allowed per game) and 27th in opponent completion percentage (71.1 percent).
So far, at least, two formidable defensive backs hasn’t been enough.
Arizona has been outscored 74-20 in its first three games.
The Cardinals haven’t just lost. They’ve lost in devastating fashion.
They’ve lost twice at home, against Washington and Chicago. They’ve lost in the most lopsided showing of the young season, a 34-0 clubbing by the division-favorite Los Angeles Rams. Most recently, they led the Bears 14-0 in the first quarter before allowing 16 consecutive points.
But are the Cardinals really this bad? Their opponents, after all, tout a combined record of 7-2. Maybe this sea of damning statistics — dead last in the NFL in scoring offense, total offense and scoring defense, for example — is really just an exaggeration.
Or maybe the worst is still to come.
Steve Wilks was the head coach at Savannah State for one season.
This was in 1999, and the Tigers finished with a 5-6 record.
That’s notable because the Cardinals’ first-year head coach has never served as a head coach at any level, outside of that season.
Instead, Wilks made his name primarily as a defensive backs coach. He oversaw the secondary with 10 different programs from 2000 to 2016. Most recently, he served as the assistant head coach and defensive coordinator for the Carolina Panthers last season.
But, in the wake of an 0-3 start, is Wilks the right guy to pick up the pieces in Arizona?
Time will tell, but the Cardinals better start winning.