The Bane of Wishful Thinking


ASFN Consultant and Senior Writer
Jan 7, 2003
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Orlando, FL
In retrospect, what did we expect? This debacle started with Bidwill’s personal decision to hire Steve Wilkes. He said what Bidwill wanted to hear. Wilkes said he was flexible about the defense scheme and intended to stay with a 3-4 defense. He proceeded to convince Keim (gullible) to acquire 4-3 players. Wilkes had no clue about offenses. The team won 3 games and Wilkes was out.

The Cards looked enviously at teams winning with exotic offenses. Incredibly they settled on a coach who couldn’t even win in college after numerous attempts. USC (a perennial mediocre program in recent years)was looking to hire Kingsbury as an OC, perhaps his pinnacle. The Cards must have figured they had to top that so they offered him the head coaching slot. I can only guess they were thinking; Kingsbury will create a magical offense and we’ll get him an experienced DC (preferably with head coaching experience). Then we’ll draft some defensive studs.

Instead the Cards traded up to draft Rosen, after Kingsbury publicly said Rosen would be fine. After all he was a PAC 12 star and that conference thought Kingsbury was a genius. It was quickly clear Rosen couldn’t make Kingsbury a winner. So now Kingsbury decided an extremely talented but undersized QB was what he needed and long had sought to acquire; his dream leader. That QB was torn between football and baseball. Football offered better upfront guaranteed money and he would go directly to the NFL (likely he’d start). No minor league bus riding for a star like Murray. I was concerned at the time, but I didn’t call this out like I should have; my bad.

I didn’t have to watch Murray long before it became clear that he was unbelievably raw and flawed in his technique. He was a great athlete and that had carried him to stardom. However, combined with his physical limitations (short & light) he had a severely limited margin for error. I posted that. People kept pointing to the success of Wilson and Brees. They were masters of technique; fearless and skilled at reading defenses. They were capable of functioning as pocket passers (though Wilson was a fine runner). They had learned to shift in the pocket to obtain clear passing lanes. They understood who they were and what success demanded of them.

The AZ Cards had their typically poor offensive line. Murray quickly became conditioned to run or dump the ball at the first sign of danger. This issue was compounded by Murray’s apparent inability or lack of interest in learning how to read defenses. Add in the fact Kingsbury refused to keep in backs or design hot read plays that enabled Murray to blunt the rush. Murray never seemed to understand how to identify blitzing safeties so he could target the vacated areas. Thus rush beating audibles we’re rarities.

In the meantime drafts grew increasingly weird. Few truly impactful players were selected. In the last 2 drafts the Cards decided (I think erroneously based on Tampa) that the key was selecting highly athletic inside linebackers. You’d have to go back to 2018 to find a drafted, skilled offensive player. Before that it’s back to 2015. In the last draft they chose a TE in the second round despite having just signed a huge contract for a TE. I don’t recall Kingsbury’s offense resting on 2 TE stars. They did trade their first pick for a useful WR, but they lost 2 WRs and a key RB. You can’t lose impact players and expect no impact. The 2 players that left are already factors in their new teams improvement. So it’s fair to say Kingsbury was disadvantaged, but it’s not accurate to say he’s made an effort to compensate.

The silliest part of the Cards’ story was when they signed Murray to a huge extension that included a clause he had to study film. That they felt this clause necessary tells you all you need to know about the diligence of their chosen leader. Of course the Cards backed down in embarrassment and removed the clause when the existence of the clause was exposed. I guess too much knowledge is a bad thing.

The rest of the off-season was mostly a joke. A clear weakness of CBs was virtually ignored until a few last minute desperate acquisitions. The other primary component of a pass defense, rushers, was not addressed until round 3. I sarcastically said this might be the first team I’m aware of to go through a season with no interceptions. I was widely attacked for that statement, but the season total is zero after 3 games. In fact only one potential opportunity seemed even close. Turnovers are game changers and teams ignore them at their peril.

For his part, Kingsbury continues to run pedestrian plays with little evidence of reality, seldom even looking up from his play sheet. Rarely does he interact with players. He seems unaware of red zone mentality, the passage of time or what his opponent is attempting to do. Things like the hurry up offense seem to have vanished, even when the clock is the enemy. Before last seasons’ injury Williams had transformed into an offensive weapon, now he’s just a blocker. His best runner, Murray, runs only in desperation. Even using Murray’s running ability in “goal to go“ situations has ceased. More often Kingsbury resorts to failed Wildcat plays. When the ball is near the goal line he calls complex runs or deep handoffs, which expose the offense to unnecessary, often fatal, losses of yardage. In other short yardage scenarios Kingsbury likes to throw low percentage of completion long passes. His high completion passes are too often behind the line of scrimmage and typically lose yardage. He fails to roll out Murray or use screens to blunt the rush. In short this is a failed offensive scheme.

Essentially the Cards went into this season weaker than a season ago, which ultimately fell completely apart. To expect success wasn’t just overly optimistic, it was naive. It was wishful thinking of the most dangerous type by too many of us. It seems the Cards have counted on the loyalty of the fans and have consistently taken advantage of it.


Hall of Famer
Jan 3, 2016
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Harry, love your takes, but the third paragraph is erroneous - we traded up to draft Rosen while Wilks* was our coach. Not sure if it was just some typos or what have you.
This is true, but I too would prefer to blame KK for all of that. :lol:


Pawnee, Skidi Clan
Feb 1, 2012
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Mesa, AZ
Timing? Did we raise the white flag and I missed it? If we win tomorrow, we are right where expected at 2-2. I don't disagree with all the errors made by not so bright football minds, but I think we all get the picture, and have known that we are just the Cardinals, decade after decade now.

Yes, it is frustrating to see our management keep our team in such a poor state, but until our owner grows a pair of footballs, wipes the front office clean, and gets some real professional winners in here to run things, nothing will ever change. I don't know who they are, but I would bet there are a few young intelligent executive football minds out there who will be making a name for themselves soon. I guess the question is, would Bidwill recognize them if and when he ever went looking.


Hold onto the ball, Murray!
Dec 30, 2002
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Pittsburgh, PA--Enemy territory!
And meanwhile all the usual suspects at asfn are already stroking themselves with self congratulatory posts less than a month into the season.
Nah, we're just tired of being insulted, called stupid, and derided for our completely understandable skepticism. But, hey, it's trendy to call Darksiders out when they're wrong, but Darksiders should totally let posters who acted high and mighty (not you) off the hook, because they're allowed to insult people and we just have to accept that.

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