If you thought the Chicago Bears had problems at wide receiver, you haven’t seen anything yet. Get a load of the situation facing their Saturday preseason opponent.
Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians, who has led the Cardinals to a 42-22-1 record since joining the team in 2013, isn’t pleased with how his pass catchers have been performing. And when the Arizona head coach speaks, he isn’t someone who talks cautiously around a situation.
“I must’ve been seeing things back in the spring when I said we had had 12 guys who could play in the NFL,” Arians told Darren Urban over at the team’s official website. “We might have two.”
Since Arians praised future Hall-of-Famer Larry Fitzgerald and 27-year-old Jaron Brown, the rest of the group is officially on high notice after being not so subtly blasted on Monday.
To be fair, injuries have impeded the group’s overall progress in camp. John Brown (quad), Aaron Dobson (hamstring), Brittan Golden (groin), and rookie Chad Williams (shin splints) are among those battling the injury bug in camp. Even still, there are some familiar names in Arizona’s receiving corps, so it’s a bit of a surprise to hear the depth players at the position get called out in that way.
On the other hand, Arians made it clear that injuries weren’t the only reason for the receivers’ struggles.
“Assignments, catching the ball,” Arians said. “The main things the receivers have to do, they are not doing.”
To summarize, injuries and inconsistencies have made for a problematic showing by Arizona’s receivers this summer. And yet, there is still much reason to fear this offense. The Cardinals’ passing offense ranked 10th in yards (4,124) and 11th in touchdowns thrown (28), while its receiving offense averaged the seventh most yards per game (276.6). However, Arizona’s quarterbacks finished 22nd in passer rating (83.5) and 27th in completion percentage (59.3%) as Carson Palmer’s 87.2 passer rating was his lowest since 2013 (83.9).
I wouldn’t expect this group to be down for long. Not with Arians coaching, Palmer quarterbacking, Fitzgerald receiving, and running back David Johnson doing it all.
In the end, at least the players have received their coach’s message loud and clear.
“I’ve been cussed out plenty of times in my three years here,” receiver J.J. Nelson told AZCardinals.com. “He’s pretty much saying it in a nice way right now but he’s still getting his message across. It’s up to us to respond …. we pretty much feel like we’re letting him down right now.”
The Cardinals will get a chance to show progress on Saturday against the Bears, who may be sporting a surprisingly deep defense.