Quarterbacks who were the No. 1 overall picks by the Rams in their respective NFL Drafts will be facing off against each other when the Los Angeles Rams play the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday at the Los Angeles Coliseum.
The Rams and quarterback Jared Goff are brimming with confidence after a strong second-half showing in their 33-13 victory over the Oakland Raiders on Monday night. And even with the short week, they are heavily favored over the Cardinals, who got very little going offensively in a disappointing 24-6 loss to the Washington Redskins.
Much of the blame fell on quarterback Sam Bradford, leading to an early-season controversy whether he should be replaced by Josh Rosen, the team’s first-round pick this year.
Bradford completed 20 of 34 passes for the Cardinals, but for only 153 yards, with no touchdowns and an interception.
“I think he’s a little disappointed in his performance, which most of those guys in that locker room are, and they should be,” first-year Cardinals coach Steve 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.”
For his first five NFL seasons, Bradford was a member of the then-St. Louis Rams, who made him the first overall pick of the 2010 draft.
This is the first time he will be facing the team that drafted him, but Bradford is not making much out of it.
“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.”
Bradford did not get much help in the opener from his running game as David Johnson, who recently signed a three-year, $39 million contract extension, rushed for 37 yards on nine carries.
Bradford will remain the starter this week, and the Cardinals will be facing a Rams’ defense that is loaded with stars. The Rams shut out the Raiders in the second half and even scored a touchdown on Marcus Peters’ 50-yard interception return.
“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.”
That defense made things easier for Goff, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 draft.
“You know eventually, down the stretch you get comfortable, settle in and guys make plays,” Goff said. “And that’s what we did towards the end.”
Rams running back Todd Gurley, who rushed for 1,305 yards last season while earning first-team All-Pro honors, ran for 108 yards in the opener as Los Angeles shook off a sluggish start.
“I think to be able to go through some adversity, I think says a lot about our football team,” Rams coach Sean McVay said. “Really hadn’t had anything like that occur, obviously, just with it being the first game. But, I think when you take into account the elements, the atmosphere, some of the unknown with what they presented offensively, even some different things defensively the way that the half ended, they had a lot of momentum. I thought our guys just kind of really embodied that attitude of ‘never flinch and never blink’ and then they came out and they did an excellent job in the second half. I thought the coaches made some good adjustments as well.”
McVay gave his team an extra day off after a physical game Monday.
“We’ll try to get a good day’s worth of work or really two good days of work on Thursday and Friday the way that we would normally practice,” he said. “But, (Wednesday) will mostly be mental and we’ll get a walk-through-type setting and try to get a lot of reps, but take that physical toll of the players’ bodies.”