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The Cardinals fell in their regular season opener to the Washington Redskins 24-6. Blame can be spread amongst a lot of different parties but one thing is for sure: Sam Bradford needs to be a lot better. If he can’t the Cardinals are in for a long season.

Bradford Struggled Early And Often

Sam Bradford’s inability to sustain drives for the Cardinals in the opener proved costly. Their longest drive in the first half was a seven-play drive on their opening possession. The following drives in the first half went as followed: Three plays, three plays and a kneel down. Yikes.

It wasn’t really until the game had already been decided that the Cardinals started to move the ball. Overall, Arizona lost the time of possession battle by a wide margin: 38:08 for the Redskins to only 21:52 for the Cardinals.

Dink And Dunk

On Thursday night, Eagles’ receiver Nelson Agholor‘s stat sheet read eight receptions for 33 yards, which seems impossible. Sam Bradford pretty much one-upped him with his performance Sunday. Bradford has never been known to push the ball down the field but he averaged just 4.5 yards per attempt on 20-for-34 passing for only 153 yards. That also seems impossible to do even if someone tried.

David Johnson, who on the eve of the opener signed a new extension, will struggle to produce if the defense stacks the box to keep Bradford honest. Again, Bradford has never been one to push the ball down the field and is extremely accurate but at some point, he will need to take some more chances. Obviously, there are some concerns along the offensive line but Bradford won’t help that unit out by constantly checking the ball down.

Cardinals fans may already be clamoring for Josh Rosen but there is no way they should put the rookie in. Not yet, at least. As already mentioned, there are concerns up front and you don’t want to put the future in harm’s way this early in his career. Bradford needs and should get better as he gets more comfortable.

How Long Should Bradford’s Leash Be?

It was certainly an uninspiring debut for Sam Bradford but the Cardinals should be in no rush to start the rookie Josh Rosen. Head coach Steve Wilks will likely lean on the veteran quarterback to work through his early struggles and it’s the right move. Bradford gives the Cardinals the best chance to compete in the tough NFC.

The Cardinals will now turn their attention to the offseason champions: the Los Angeles Rams. That will be a monumental test for the Cardinals to go on the road and try to get a victory in the division. Bradford will have to play a whole helluva lot better than he did on Sunday or the rumblings for Rosen will only get louder.

Sports Al Dente 2019

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