Larry Fitzgerald’s great memory has been documented, but when asked about the season-opening loss, he was a little cloudy.
“What happened last week?” he asked in reply.
“We have the Rams on Sunday, and that’s where our attention is, our focus. We fixed our corrections on Monday, talked about things we need to do to improve. We’ve got one of the best teams in the league, we can’t think about what happened last week.”
Fitzgerald’s stance mirrored the rest of the Cardinals’ locker room at Thursday’s practice. While everyone is looking to make corrections from the Washington game, they’re not dwelling in it. Defensive coordinator Al Holcomb said the film sessions earlier in the week had been “pretty intense.” On defense specifically, he noted physicality, tackling and tightening gaps ahead of facing Todd Gurley and the Rams.
“It’s a big-time challenge this week again,” Holcomb said. “We’ve got to address the mistakes, the things that we didn’t do so well last week, and correct those things. We’ve got to accentuate the positives, the good things that we did. And we’ve got to continue to grow and build as a defense.”
The Cardinals coaches say they aren’t ignoring problems from the loss. Offensive coordinator Mike McCoy spoke about how he was shocked they only got off 13 plays in the first half. Holcomb thinks the wake-up call will push them.
“We’re a little salty right now,” Holcomb said. “You always want to have a little edge to you.”
Bradford readying to face Suh, Rams
Rams defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh wants to knock down every quarterback. With Sam Bradford, it’s personal.
Suh told the Around The NFL Podcast in August that he always circles the calendar for Bradford in particular. That next meeting comes Sunday.
The two played against each other in college – Suh at Nebraska, Bradford at Oklahoma – before Bradford edged him out in the draft, going first overall. Nine years later, Suh hasn’t forgotten.
How is Bradford taking the news that Suh has extra motivation to hit him?
“Great,” a wide-eyed Bradford deadpanned on Wednesday after chuckling.
It’s not ideal news, but Bradford also isn’t too alarmed.
“I get it,” the veteran quarterback said. “I think everyone wants to hit me. I think that’s kind of how it goes. So, I don’t really think too much more about it than any other week.”
Suh aside, Bradford is also playing against the team that drafted him for the first time in his career. Despite facing a familiar foe, he doesn’t think he’ll have too many extra emotions.
“Not really,” he said. “I think if it would have happened sooner in my career, maybe there would be more, but the staff there is completely different.
“There’s only a handful of guys on that roster that were there when I was there. So, there’s just really not a lot of connection that’s still there for me.”
First-year head coaches
Coach Steve Wilks found himself in company of six other first-year head coaches who lost their season opener.
“In the first year, there are always challenges,” Wilks said Wednesday. “Now you’ve got real live bullets going, and it’s still a process. So, we’re learning each other.”
Wilks has stayed away from making excuses – in the wake of the game, he’s been shouldering the blame.
“The process on game day is different – the communication from the box to the sideline, making the proper adjustments,” he said. “I think once guys understand your culture and the things you want on a day-to-day basis, I think it’s natural that it’s very seamless moving forward. But right now, you’re going to work through those rough spots.”
Someone who can recall that process will be lining up across from Wilks on Sunday: Rams second-year head coach Sean McVay. McVay went 11-5 in his first season at the helm, a year in which he was the youngest head coach in NFL history.
He can’t relate to the opening loss; McVay and the Rams won 46-9 over the Colts in Week 1 last season. Still, McVay felt a slow start doesn’t define the new head coaches.
“I think it just kind of worked out for us in that game, but I think there’s a lot of really good coaches in this league on tough teams,” McVay said in a conference call Wednesday.
“You look at it, really, each week presents a new story or headline, and I don’t necessarily think that start is indicative of the success that a lot of these guys will have. I think it’s just one week, and things change every single week in this league.”
Bidwill weighs in
While Cardinals President Michael Bidwill was focused on the Fiesta Bowl on Thursday, he did give some insight as to what he felt about the season opener.
“The fans should look forward to a better performance. We did not preform well last weekend,” Bidwill said. “I know the players, coaches and whole organization felt that way, certainly our fans do, too.”
“I watched a little bit of the (Rams) game on Monday night. They’re a good football them. They’ve got a lot of talent, but so do we,” Bidwill said.