There was a time, Sam Bradford recalled, in 2013 with the Rams, when an attempt to change some things in the team's offense to start the season did not go well as hoped.
The Rams opened that season with a 27-24 win over the Cardinals, and first-year head coach Bruce Arians. But the offense soon stalled, the Rams lost three straight, and coach Jeff Fisher reverted to the previous year's philosophy – and the Rams scored 38 and 34 points the next two games, winning both.
"There have been times I've been in situations like this," Bradford said Wednesday.
It may not be a direct parallel, but the changes coach Steve Wilks hinted at on offense – making a greater effort to get running back David Johnson loose, in particular – are what the Cards hope can induce a similar shift for this team in 2018.
Statistics thus far are harsh. Six points in two games. A passing game that accounted for 90 yards last week against the Rams. But the adjustments won't come in personnel – "Sam, right now, is the quarterback, as I stated before," Wilks said – but in gameplan tweaks.
Wilks had talked about scaling back the number of plays on deck for Sunday against the Bears.
"Just make sure the plays we have in the gameplan, everyone is comfortable with (and) really feel like we 'own' the plays that are in the gameplan that week," Bradford said. "As opposed to having so many calls on the sheet that maybe we know them but we're not owning them the way that we should."
Playing the Bears and a highly-touted defensive line led by newcomer Khalil Mack doesn't make it a simple task. But Bradford complimented teammates' attitudes coming back out for work after the 0-2 start. Wilks said while the offense has to find a way to bring the physical portion of practice work through the game on Sundays, the mental fortitude has held up.
"Nobody is coming into the building depressed and sad," tackle D.J. Humphries said. "Everybody understands we got our ass kicked. Everybody is just trying to come back in here and do what they can do to put the best foot forward."
The Bears are eighth in the NFL in total defense and lead the league with 10 sacks through two games, not exactly a step down from the powerhouse defense the Rams have built. But guard Justin Pugh said he believes, while the struggles have snowballed up until this point, the Cards can make them snowball in a positive way – a couple of first downs, a touchdown drive – that can quickly change outcomes.
Bears coach Matt Nagy said he wasn't sure exactly how different the Cardinals offense might be this week. Details are, obviously, under wraps.
"I just know that, however I do it, I have to find a way to get this offense going," Bradford said.