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Wilks zeros in on offense as Arizona drops to 1-5

(AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn)

By BOB BAUM

AP Sports Writer

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) Arizona Cardinals coach Steve Wilks had a blunt answer when asked if offensive coordinator Mike McCoy's job is in jeopardy.

"I would say all our jobs are in jeopardy," Wilks said, "including mine if we don't win."

Such is the mood of the first-year coach and his staff after the team's 27-17 loss at Minnesota dropped the Cardinals to 1-5 for the season.

Now Arizona faces a quick turnaround to host the Denver Broncos, another struggling team at 2-4, on Thursday night.

As has been the case all season, the problems for the Cardinals on Sunday were a sluggish offense and a defense unable to stop the run.

Arizona managed 269 yards against the Vikings and remains last in the NFL in offense at 220.5 yards per game.

The Cardinals offense came to life a bit in the fourth quarter as rookie quarterback Josh Rosen operated in an up-tempo game.

"It was very effective for us," Wilks said. "It's something that we've definitely got to consider. It's part of his comfort zone based off of college. We've got to do everything we can right now to get this offense going in the right direction."

Rosen said the late-game success had something to do with Minnesota's defense.

"It's not necessarily that I like it or don't like it, it was just successful the little bit we did it," Rosen said. "I think the Vikings had a comfortable lead as well so they kind of took their foot off the gas a little bit and kind of let us get some underneath stuff. I think it's definitely something we can do or continue, but also you can't look too far into it, consider the situation in the game."

Rosen had the best statistical game of his three starts, completing 21 of 31 passes for 208 yards with one interception. He acknowledged that he bears a big responsibility for the offense but as a rookie must realize his status with the coaching staff.

"You've got to earn respect. I think I'm in the process of doing that," Rosen said, "but I think we've got some great coaches and they're asking for feedback and I'm willing to give them that feedback but you've also kind of know your place as a rookie. I'm sort of finding the happy medium between taking as much control as you sort of deserve, but I'll never shy away."

Another familiar problem was getting David Johnson involved. The running back has yet to have a breakout game and has acknowledged several mental lapses as he tries to grasp the new offense.

Wilks said the problems in getting Johnson involved are many.

"We need to do a much better job up front as far as blocking, executing our assignments," he said. "We need to move him around more, try to find ways to get him out in space, different things to try to open it up."

The Cardinals' problems up front have been worsened by injury. Right guard Justin Pugh has a hand injury and Mike Iupati left Sunday's game with an injured back.

Wilks said he's awaiting results of an MRI on Pugh's hand.

"It could be broke, it could be sprained," Wilks said. "We don't know."

With his left hand in a cast, Pugh said later Monday that, while he couldn't talk about specifics of the injury, he intended to try to play Thursday night.

Wilks, a defensive coach by background, said he's "definitely taken more attention to the offense and making sure we're doing the things we need to execute."

But there are issues on defense as well. Arizona allowed 195 yards rushing against the Vikings.

"It's one or two guys not using their hands, getting out of their gaps, which is creating explosive plays," Wilks said. "Guys need to continue to work and execute their assignments."

That's been a season-long lament in Arizona.

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Updated October 15, 2018

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