The boos sounded inside the practice bubble of the Cardinals this week, a recorded version of the disappointment of the team’s home opener two weeks ago, because Steve Wilks had something very clear he wanted to get across.
“If you don’t learn from history you’re bound to repeat it,” Wilks explained Friday of the “subliminal” message Patrick Peterson had talked about the day before. “I want those guys to understand, we are playing for each other and we are playing for ourselves, but we are playing for our fans.
“It’s important we put a quality product out on the field that they can be proud of and most importantly, that represents us. We didn’t do that the first two weeks. I thought it was important they heard that so we don’t hear it again.”
Such messages don’t necessary provide the right blocks for Sam Bradford on Sunday, or get Larry Fitzgerald open or help the Cards’ secondary in pass coverage. Not directly. But in the small part of practice we were able to watch this week, there was a remarkable upbeat vibe considering the way the first two games have gone. Players usually are able to flush the previous week pretty easily by the time Wednesday rolls around, but it was noticeable how the players responded – and how the coaches were there too.
There’s nowhere to go but up. The Cardinals know what they can get out of it if they start playing better – and they know what awaits if they do not.
-- During his appearance on 98.7, Arizona’s Sports Station on Friday, GM Steve Keim talked about his thoughts when it came to the best time to insert rookie quarterback Josh Rosen. Wilks has made it plain he wants Sam Bradford to pick up his play so Rosen isn’t needed. Keim basically said the same, but he knows Bradford hasn’t done well enough.
“The film speaks the truth for sure,” Keim said. “Sam hasn’t played particularly well and I think he’d be the first to tell you that. More than anything, offensively, we haven’t found any rhythm. … we haven’t been able to convert on third-down to the point that it is embarrassing.”
-- The protection does need to be better. John Wetzel will stay at right tackle with Andre Smith’s elbow injury. No matter if Smith had been in there or with Wetzel now, you figure the Cardinals will have to make sure there is some help on that side, given that’s where Khalil Mack is coming from.
-- The first game, the Cardinals were doomed because they couldn’t stop the run or the pass to running backs. Last game, they did much better against running backs but couldn’t stop Jared Goff from getting chunks of yardage through the air. There’s got to be a happy medium, right?
-- There always can be a quiet lineup change – we don’t get to watch practice, so if something moves around on the depth chart, we won’t know until Sunday – but at the same time, I don’t know if there will be anything against the Bears. When asked about Jamar Taylor at cornerback, defensive coordinator Al Holcomb said he thought Taylor was pressing too much after the Cards fell behind. It did not sound like a coach on the verge of a change.
-- Speaking of Holcomb, he was asked about the linebackers, and Gerald Hodges playing more than Deone Bucannon.
“It’s a constant rotation,” Holcomb said. “Coach talks about it all the time, there’s no sense of entitlement. Right now, we’re just trying to continue to uncover guys who have that DNA we are looking for, the physicality, the effort, the communication, all of those things. As you get into it, you start learning about different players, and what different players have at their skillset and what they bring to the table.”
-- It’s good that Larry Fitzgerald will likely play Sunday. The Cards need him. They also need the other receivers to start making enough of an impact where defenses can’t focus solely on Fitz.
-- The Bears are one of only two teams the Cards haven’t beaten at State Farm Stadium since it opened. This is the third time they’ve played in the building. The Bears won, 28-13, in 2012, and of course, 24-23 in 2006. Because they were who we thought they were. (The other team the Cards haven’t beaten at State Farm Stadium is the Patriots. It’ll be a few years before they get another chance to do that.)
-- It feels like the Cardinals will have Markus Golden and Jermaine Gresham active. Will they play a lot if they are? Probably not. But it’d be a step in the right direction. Watching Golden in drills this week, he did look good.
-- We’ll leave you with Fitz.
“There’s nothing we can do about the last two weeks,” he said. “All we can do is fix it. The good thing is, we can’t play any worse than we have the last two weeks. It can only go up.”
See you Sunday.