Arizona Cardinals coach Dennis Green declared Monday morning he wouldn’t be as understanding in his second year as he had been in his first.
Monday afternoon, that mind-set cost offensive coordinator Alex Wood and receivers coach Robert Ford their jobs. Their firings are Green’s first salvos of what is expected to be a bumpy offseason.
Green was not available for comment, but in a statement released by the team said, "Given our lack of offensive production this season, it was apparent some changes were necessary to get where we need to be."
Green isn’t expected to fire any other assistants. He already said Monday morning first-year offensive line coach Everett Lindsay will be retained.
Wood could not be reached for comment and Sunday left the locker room before reporters arrived.
The Cardinals finished 27th overall in total offense — 22nd in rushing and 24th in passing. The team was also 26th in scoring.
During Sunday’s win against Tampa Bay, at least one player was criticizing Wood on the sideline for his play selection. Afterward, some players were obviously miffed at how the offense was run.
"It was real frustrating for me," receiver Anquan Boldin said after the game. "But I am not a coach, so you go with it."
Earlier Monday, Green said he felt the offense hadn’t been productive enough from the beginning of last spring’s minicamps all the way through the season. He wouldn’t endorse Wood, a telling sign for the news later in the day.
But he also was careful to spread the blame of the offensive woes.
"First off, it is never one guy’s fault," Green said. "It is not Alex Wood’s fault, it is not (quarterback) Josh McCown’s fault, it is not my fault and it’s not the line’s fault. It’s always a combination of a lot of factors."
The dismissal of Wood means McCown — assuming the restricted free agent returns, which is expected — will be playing for his fourth offensive coordinator in four NFL seasons. It’s another reason the Cardinals still can’t know if McCown is a long-term answer at the position.
McCown finished the season 6-7 as the starter, posting a 74.1 rating with 11 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.
Green revisited the decision to bench McCown for three games Monday, saying he did it to aid the psyche of his defense.
"I think if I had not done that, I don’t think our defense would have been what it was at the end of the year," Green said. "That is one man’s opinion. . . . I am telling you my thought process. Did Josh play better when he came back? A little bit better. Again, our expectations are very high.
"I do not think you can say we were 6-7 because Josh played quarterback. I think we were 6-7 because in those particular games we played outstanding defense."
McCown should have a chance to win the starting job again next season, although this time Green is expected to find another veteran quarterback to fight for the job. John Navarre will also have a shot to prove himself.
McCown believes his 13 starts this season will give him the edge in such a competition. And Green has said multiple times McCown can only get better by staying in the offensive system longer.
"Having experience in the offense, you’ll see that on day one," McCown said. "I think that will be a big help."
Where Green turns for his new coordinator is a mystery. Wood was not his first choice last season, but some issues — including the money the Cardinals are willing to pay — factor in to a final decision.
Green said in his statement he is "exploring options" to fill the positions. Whoever is hired will be given Green’s blueprint for an offense he thinks can be and should be in the top 10 of the NFL.
"I know Denny knows what he wants," running back Emmitt Smith said after Sunday’s game. "He has seen his offense full-throttle, and once he gets it to where he wants it, it will be like a brand-new engine to a car. Once you crank it up it sounds awesome. I think that is what kind of potential lies here."