TEMPE, Ariz. — Another blowout loss has left Steve Wilks on even shakier ground as first-year coach of the Arizona Cardinals.
The 40-14 defeat in Atlanta to a 4-9 Falcons team left the Cardinals at 3-11.
They face the Los Angeles Rams, who beat the Cardinals 34-0 in Week 2, in their final home game. That’s followed by the season finale at Seattle.
Prospects do not seem good. Arizona could well be headed to a 3-13 season, matching the Cardinals’ worst since the franchise moved from St. Louis 30 years ago.
With a dissatisfied fan base and a team showing little or no improvement through the season, team president Michael Bidwill — who takes great pride in making the franchise relevant after years of losing — could decide he can’t afford to give Wilks a second season to prove his worth.
“I really don’t listen to the outside noise,” Wilks said Monday of speculation about his job status. “I wake up every morning blessed, and I come in here with my nose down and just grind away, trying to get these coaches and players all on the same page and looking to try to get a win. That’s my focus.”
That speculation is such: The Arizona Republic believes it’s a foregone conclusion that Wilks will be fired and the only question is whether GM Steve Keim will be gone as well.
The only other time Arizona has lost 13 games came in 2000, when Vince Tobin was fired seven games into the season and replaced by Dave McGinnis.
The Cardinals took an early 7-0 lead in Atlanta, then the Falcons scored 40 unanswered points. Wilks mercifully benched rookie quarterback Josh Rosen late in the game, and backup Mike Glennon got the team in the end zone.
But Wilks reiterated that Rosen would start the final two games, even though he’s under constant assault by defenses behind a makeshift offensive line that has lost four starters to injuries and wasn’t all that effective to begin with.
“Yesterday, I felt the need to take him out based off where we were in the game,” Wilks said. “He didn’t like that. He was disappointed a little bit, wanted to stay in there. Sometimes with great players like that, you have to help them help themselves, but moving forward, we’re not going to take a defeated attitude and say that we’re going to put him on the shelf for the remainder of the season.”
Like most of the rest of the team, Rosen hasn’t seemed to get much better at his job, although there are plenty of reasons beyond his control. Against the Falcons, Rosen completed 13-of-22 passes for 132 yards with two interceptions. For the season, Rosen has thrown 10 touchdown passes and been intercepted 14 times.
“I always say have zero expectations in life so you’re never disappointed,” he said after the game. “I don’t know about humbling. I didn’t really have any expectations coming in. I just wanted to get better every day and play good football. I have good days. I have bad days. I’d like to be a little more consistent on the good days. This was a step back, and we’ll climb over the hurdle like we always do.”
This Cardinals team has crashed into hurdles more often than cleared them.
Arizona has eight losses of at least 10 points and four by at least 20. No other team in the NFL has that record of futility.
The offense has statistically been the worst in the NFL, but the defense hasn’t been so great either. Atlanta, the worst rushing team in the league, ran for 215 yards against Arizona, the most allowed by the Cardinals this season.
Wilks served one season as defensive coordinator of the Carolina Panthers, and his entire coaching career has been on that side of the ball.
The bright spot: The Cardinals are tied with Oakland for the worst record in the NFL, and they lost to the Raiders.
So lose in the final two games — the Cardinals opened as a 12 1/2-point underdog against the Rams (it was up to 14 on Monday) — and that No. 1 draft pick is all theirs.