The Seahawks head to the desert this weekend to face the Arizona Cardinals, who are hoping a change at quarterback can jumpstart their offense and lead them to their first win the season. To learn more about the Seahawks' Week 4 opponent, we reached out to AZCardinals.com senior writer Darren Urban (you can find him on Twitter here) with five questions about the Cardinals:
Q: There's big news down there this week with Steve Wilks naming Josh Rosen the starting quarterback. What kind of impression has the rookie made so far, and what is reasonable to expect of the rookie in his first start?
A: Rosen has made a great first impression, dating all the way back to his first days of on-field work in the offseason. He took a bunch of first-team reps in the summer because the Cardinals were trying to limit Sam Bradford's work as he took care of his rebuilt knee. So he had an early chemistry with the first unit. That should help him now. He's confident, as was his reputation. His intelligence helped with digesting the playbook. He also figures to be more aggressive as a passer than Bradford. That might mean more turnovers, but it will also bring some oomph to an offense that needs some after three games.
Q: Record aside—it's early, after all—what has Wilks brought to the table in his first year as a head coach?
A: Wilks is a coach who connected with a lot of players early, and that was important for a new guy. He likes to get to know players on a personal level because he believes it helps him coach them. He too has a confidence you need on this level. Right now, he is going through that first serious adversity as a head coach. He seems to have handled it very well, at least outwardly. This is a big game. The Cardinals had three of their first four at home – salvaging one of those home games as a victory is important.
Q: The offensive numbers obviously aren't where the Cardinals would like them to be, what have been the contributing factors to those struggles?
A: As usual in cases like these, there are plenty of factors. Bradford never clicked once the regular season started, and that accuracy that was his biggest strength simply wasn't there enough. The offensive line has been inconsistent, especially in the running game, which was supposed to be what the unit was best at doing. Of course, that wasn't helped by an inexperienced receiving corps (other than Larry Fitzgerald), although rookie Christian Kirk is starting to look pretty good and he already has a good connection with fellow rookie Rosen. Finally, there was an expectation that David Johnson was going to produce like the 2016 David Johnson. Everyone counted on that. That has not happened. Not only has this team struggled to score, they have struggled just to convert third downs and hold possession. Hence, a QB change.
Q: How important is it to the offense to get David Johnson more involved than he has been through three games?
A: I'd say it's the most important thing, and it has been the most important thing. Again, a lot of things go into this. He hasn't been used as much in the passing game, which was a huge part of 2016. He hasn't gotten loose as a runner. And as he talked about the other day, he has made some mistakes in assignments like pass blocking. I don't know if those mental errors have cost him touches, but Wilks has talked repeatedly about being able to trust guys. Whatever it is, the Cards need Johnson to produce much more. He's certainly capable of it.
Q: The Seahawks offense struggled while giving up a lot of sacks, then improved drastically when protection was better last week. With that in mind, how have Chandler Jones and company looked so far this season?
A: Last week the defense started looking a lot more like Wilks and his staff expected. The Bears got yardage (and a game-winning field-goal drive in the fourth quarter) but the Cardinals forced a couple of turnovers, got some sacks, and for a second straight game, did decent against the run. There has definitely been a learning curve for the unit, but the blitzing increased, former first-round pick DT Robert Nkemdiche is finally making an impact, and the group hasn't lost any confidence. It will be an interesting test against Russell Wilson, especially with Doug Baldwin returning this week.
The Seahawks and Cardinals will meet for the 40th time in the regular season this Sunday in Seattle. Take a look back at photos from past games played between the two teams.