Cardinals downplay scaled-back playbook despite needed changes

The Cardinals are the worst offense in the NFL through two weeks, and Sunday will be the first test for a scaled-down playbook. Norm Hall/Getty Images

TEMPE, Ariz. -- The Arizona Cardinals spent their practice time working on a reduced number of plays this week after coach Steve Wilks announced Monday that the offensive playbook would be scaled down.

Even though it's "helped a lot," rookie running back Chase Edmonds said, the Cardinals have tried to downplay the change. The move wasn't as "drastic" as it sounds, left tackle D.J. Humphries said.

"We're not just running five plays," offensive coordinator Mike McCoy said. "There's certain things you cut back and there's certain situations and certain categories you might have one or two less plays in that category.

"You've got to go out there and make sure you have enough, too."

Arizona has the worst offense in football after scoring just six points in two games. It has ranked last in yards per game, passing yards per game and play, first downs per game, third-down percentage, average time of possession and points per game. It has ranked 31st in yards per play and rushing yards per game.

McCoy wouldn't say by how much the playbook is being scaled back, comparing the move to weekly game planning.

However, quarterback Sam Bradford said the decision to reduce the plays was made to give the offense a chance to master the calls.

"I think just making sure that the plays that we have in the game plan, everyone's comfortable with versus multiple looks," Bradford said. "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, but we're not owning them the way that we should. And then, 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."

McCoy said, even with a smaller playbook, the offense's mission will remain the same: run the ball and convert third downs.

There are changes Bradford thinks he can make, such as stepping up in the pocket more.

"Yeah, I think there have been instances where I can help those guys out and maybe step up and climb through some of the traffic," Bradford said.

There were times last week when Bradford felt he could've -- and should've -- checked down to David Johnson instead of forcing a play on first-and-10, which subsequently failed, preventing second-and-short.

"Just let it happen organically," he said. "Get us into second-and-4, get us into second-and-3, where we can do a little bit more as opposed to constantly playing the game in second-and-10 and having to try to claw back into it, so we're not in third-and-long all day."

Bradford has been frustrated by his and the team's play the last two weeks.

But the offense is still projecting confidence at a time when not much has gone right for it.

Bradford believes the offense is close to turning around, a sentiment shared by Wilks and McCoy.

"We're all in this thing together," he said. "And we'll fix it."

To do that, Bradford said there doesn't need to be any "drastic" measures taken. It's fixing a "bunch of little things that are happening here and there."

"Sometimes that is easier said than done, trying to get all of that accomplished in a week," he said. "But I think we can do it. Everyone believes that. Our goal is to go out there and prove that."

There's not much more Arizona can do wrong on offense. But Sunday will be the first test for a scaled down playbook that could make or break this season.

"The good thing is, also, is that you can't play any worse than we played the last two weeks," wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald said. "It can only go up."