Cardinals turning page on ugly opener

Arizona Cardinals head coach Steve Wilks looks on during the second half against the Washington Redskins.Photo: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Sports Xchange

One of the first things Arizona Cardinals head coach Steve Wilks told his players and reporters after he lost his NFL debut in a humbling 24-6 trouncing by the Washington Redskins was he wasn't going to let the defeat define the team's season.

It was just one loss, Wilks said. The Cardinals have the rest of the season ahead of them and they are going to do everything in their power to learn from their mistakes, correct them, and make sure it doesn't happen again this week when they travel to Los Angeles to face the Rams.

Time will tell how that works out for them, but the Cardinals at least were feeling much better about themselves when they returned to the practice field and turned in what everyone seemed to feel was one of their best workouts to date under the Wilks' regime. It had to happen. Arizona needed to respond with a maximum effort after what happened last Sunday at State Farm Stadium.

"We had a meeting on Monday to talk about it," safety Tre Boston said. "We knew what we wanted out of this practice. We know how we would come in. It's about how you respond to adversity and I thought we did a great job coming to practice, flying around, playing fast, communicating and doing everything as if we won last game. That's how it's supposed to be.

"You're supposed to keep your morale up. You're going to lose ball games. This is the NFL. But it's all about how you attack adversity when it hits so again, I thought we did a great job coming back in, turning the page and allowing it to come to next week."

Nothing really went right for the Cardinals against Washington. They were outrushed 182 yards to 68. Of quarterback Sam Bradford's 20 completions, 16 of them went for 10 or fewer yards. He had trouble with accuracy, which is supposed to be his strength, as he overthrew several targets and was intercepted once.

Defensively, Arizona got pushed around up front, got beat regularly on the outside by fly sweeps and screen passes, and had all sorts of trouble tackling.

A similar performance figures to get them run off the field this week at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum against Todd Gurley II and the Rams. Like Boston, however, Wilks thinks his team has found its resolve and will be in a better position to show what it can do. It starts, he said, with a better performance out of Bradford.

"I think he's a little disappointed in his performance, which most of those guys in that locker room are, and they should be," Wilks said Wednesday. "The way he came back today, along with the other guys, gives me a lot of hope. I say it all the time, we've got a lot of talent in that locker room, but the character is what's going to sustain us.

"I think those guys came out and shook it off. We're moving forward. We're not thinking about last week. We're thinking about the Rams and putting ourselves in position to win this game."

Bradford spent his first five NFL seasons with the Rams after they selected him with the No. 1 overall pick eight years ago. There won't be any added extra emotion about playing his former team, however.

"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."

The only connections concerning Bradford are the ones he makes with his pass catchers. He realizes he has to be better this week against a Rams' defense that is stacked at virtually every position.

"They're really talented. I think when you look at them on paper, they're probably one of the most talented units in the league," Bradford said. "The way they played in the second half last week, they played really well. So, I think it's definitely a big challenge for us, but we've accepted that. We're putting in the work to get ready for them."

As for the Cardinals' offense, Bradford seems confident things will turn out better moving forward.

"The encouraging thing, when we looked at the film, is there weren't any major, glaring breakdowns," he said. "It just seemed to be a minor thing here or there. But in this league, the margin for error is so small that if we all aren't on the same page, those mistakes can cost us. And I think that's the reason for some of those three-and-outs early in the game (against Washington).

"But even more important this week, going against L.A., obviously, they've got a very talented group on offense. They scored a lot of points last year. We've got to make sure that we help our defense out, that we keep ourselves on the field and that we're going down there and scoring points."

SERIES HISTORY: 79th regular-season meeting. Series tied, 38-38-2. The Rams have won three of the last four and four of the last six, but the Cardinals have won 10 of the last 13 away from home. The Rams blanked the Cardinals 33-0 in London last season, and swept the 2018 series with a 32-16 win in Arizona. The series dates back to 1937 when the Cardinals were located in Chicago and the Rams were in Cleveland.