Marked man: Cardinals’ Sam Bradford hopes to shrug off Ndamukong Suh
TEMPE, Ariz. — Narratives will ebb and flow all year long around the Arizona Cardinals’ quarterback position.
Sam Bradford’s 153 passing yards, 4.5 yards per attempt, interception and 57.6 quarterback rating Sunday in the season opener took them one way. If he struggles more down the road, calls for rookie Josh Rosen to replace him will take them further in that direction. Should Bradford turn things around this Sunday against the Los Angeles Rams and beyond, he can control the narrative to some degree.
But sometimes, there are things a quarterback can’t control. Like words said by players on other teams.
Ndamukong Suh, the Rams’ five-time Pro Bowl nose tackle, effectively circled the Los Angeles-Arizona matchup on the must-watch calendar a month ago by, well, circling it on his own planner.
“I always mark the calendar when I have Sam Bradford on there, no matter what,” Suh said on the Around The NFL Podcast in August. “Whether it was when we were rookies, when he was in St. Louis or when he was any other place. I’ve always looked forward to going against him.”
Bradford, of course, went No. 1 to the St. Louis Rams in the 2010 NFL Draft before Suh came off the board as the Detroit Lions’ pick at second overall.
It was long ago. And like Bradford’s current detachment and unfamiliarity with the franchise that drafted him, which now resides in California, the quarterback doesn’t see much significance with one of the Rams’ most formidable defensive players challenging him by name.
“I get it, I think everyone wants to hit me,” Bradford said Wednesday. “That’s kind of how it goes. I don’t think I think too much more about it than any other week.”
Bradford is more focused on fixing up his miscues from Week 1 that included an interception via an overthrow and what he dubbed “uncharacteristic” inaccuracy. After watching film, he attributed that inaccuracy with forcing the issue.
“I think just being patient, even when the game gets where it was, continuing to take what’s there and just not try to force things,” Bradford said. “When you’re not 100 percent confident in throws, they tend not to be accurate ’cause you don’t feel great about it. I think there were a couple throws that I made where in my mind, I was like, ‘I don’t know if I should be making this throw’ and you go ahead and still try to make it. I think that’s resulted in some of the inaccuracies.”
The quarterback said nothing on the offensive side of the ball raised red flags during the home loss to Washington. The Cardinals falling behind 21-0 in the first half and producing 36 total yards was a symptom of “a lot of small mistakes,” he added.
Arizona head coach Steve Wilks, meanwhile, called the offensive line play inconsistent, especially in pass protection.
And adding to the belief in the team’s maintained belief in its young wide receivers, who after Larry Fitzgerald produced a single catch for four yards, Bradford put the onus on himself and the play-calling by offensive coordinator Mike McCoy to get more out of second-year pro Chad Williams and rookie Christian Kirk.
“I think there’s some things that we could probably do gameplan-wise maybe to just get them going a little bit,” Bradford said. “Some easy completions, easy things out there, get the ball in their hands, let them touch it and then kind of build from there.”