Cardinals will try to beat the rush against Bears
The Arizona Cardinals have scored just six points while losing their first two games of the season and face a defense on Sunday that could prove more of a challenge.
Cardinals quarterback Sam Bradford and the offense will be tasked with figuring out a way to muster some yards. They plan to simplify things in an attempt to move the ball more effectively.
“Just really feel like we own the plays that are in the game plan that week as opposed to having so many calls on the sheet that maybe we know them,” Bradford said, “but we’re not owning them the way that we should.
“The thought is just to allow everyone to go out there and play faster, simplify everything a little bit, and hopefully, it shows up in the speed in which we play.”
For whatever reason, most of Bradford’s completions have resulted in fewer than 10 yards in the opening two weeks. His lack of patience in the the pocket is reflected in three wide receivers — Chad Williams, J.J. Nelson and Trent Sherfield — having no catches so far.
“I’ve been saying it from day one, we’ve got to create more separation down the field,” Cardinals coach Steve Wilks said. “Sam does a great job of throwing guys open as I’ve mentioned before, but we’ve got to create separation, coming back for the ball, and we’ve got to create separation down the field.
“We need to take some shots, loosen the defense up a little bit, those kind of things. We’re working on that. I think those guys have done a great job at the line of scrimmage trying to fight and get off the press (coverage).
“Again, it’s not just one thing. We’re all in this together and we’ve got to find ways to make sure we get this offense going in the right direction.”
In the opening two games, the Cardinals have been outscored 58-6.
Bradford was sacked just three times in those two games, but the Arizona offensive line now faces a Bears defense that accumulated 10 sacks and five forced fumbles in two games.
Mack obviously will be a person of concern for the Cardinals’ offensive line.
“We’ve just got to get on him,” Cardinals right tackle John Wetzel said. “You’ve got to have some good sets for him because he can turn and go power inside moves on you and he can rush you from the outside, so you’ve got to get your hands on him, be inside-out, and just react.”
A loss would leave the Cardinals at 0-3 for the first time since the 2005 season.
But as the offense struggles, Wilks isn’t ready to replace Bradford with rookie first-round draft pick Josh Rosen.
“Sam, right now, is the quarterback,” Wilks said, diplomatically. “As I’ve said before, I don’t think it’s just the quarterback position. I think we have some issues across the board in all three phases and we’re working on those issues.”
The Bears’ defense could become even tougher once rookie linebacker Roquan Smith gets acclimated after missing 29 days of training camp in a contract holdout. He played nearly 90 percent of the snaps last week against the Seattle Seahawks.
“He had a couple missed tackles we didn’t like,” Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said. “And it goes back to another thing. He missed basically all of training camp. … But I really liked the way he played. He had some really nice plays. Good tackler. Obviously he can run, and we’re thrilled to have him.”
The Bears would be excited to see their offense get going against the Cardinals. Quarterback Mitchell Trubisky has connected on 69.6 percent of his throws but is averaging only 5.4 yards per completion.
Wide receiver Allen Robinson has emerged as one of Trubisky’s favorite targets. In the win over the Seahawks, Robinson finished with 10 receptions for 83 yards.
“We had a couple of route-depth things we’ll clean up,” Bears offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich said. “They were simple things that he watches on film and goes, ‘Oh, yeah.’ Knucklehead-type stuff.
“I think he’s confident now. You never know with that kind of an injury how a guy is mentally approaching things, and that’s a huge, huge hurdle to get over, (to say), ‘Hey, I’m good.’ And that’s big.”
Helfrich expects the Cardinals to try to confuse Trubisky with different defensive looks.
“They bring it,” Helfrich said. “It’s impressive how well they cover out of it. You know they’re bringing it and the fans know they’re bringing it, and they get it done. So, again, it’s an all-hands-on-deck type of deal. You have to protect. You have to play in rhythm. You have to throw in time. The routes have to be crisp and urgent. And play cleanly.”