Cardinals struggling to regain confidence

By BOB BAUM
AP Sports Writer

TEMPE (AP) — The Arizona Cardinals are on a slide that has to remind fans of the franchise’s bad old days.

The five-game losing streak had coach Ken Whisenhunt defensive on Monday about whether this season represented the loss of much of what had been gained in his first three years as coach.

He reminded reporters that his Cardinals have gone to a Super Bowl and won four out of six playoff games.

This 3-7 season has not eroded what he and his staff have built, Whisenhunt said.

“I don’t think you can look at our team over the last two years and what we’ve done in the playoffs and be ashamed about anything or feel like we’ve lost anything from that,” he said. “If we have to go through some tough times to get back to that point, that’s what we have to do.”

The Cardinals play the next three at home, beginning next Monday night against San Francisco, a matchup of the two worst teams in the NFL’s worst division.

Following consecutive losses to Seattle and, on Sunday, at Kansas City, Whisenhunt must be concerned about the loss of confidence as well as everything else that’s wrong.

“I think it’s a natural human emotion when you’ve lost five in a row and you’ve lost some of the games the way we have,” he said, “it’s definitely something that plays into it. This game is about momentum. It’s about confidence and we don’t have a lot to base positive things on here lately.”

Whisenhunt blamed the loss on the same thing he has been talking about for weeks, mental errors.

“Six plays yesterday of 25 yards or longer were all attributable to mistakes, mental mistakes,” he said. “We’re having our issues with missed tackles but when you line up wrong, when you play the defense wrong, when you drop coverage on the guy you’re supposed to have, those are all things that are the culprits for our defense right now.”

With the next game not until Monday night, players were off on Monday and Tuesday. They will return on Wednesday, then will practice every day, including Thanksgiving, through Saturday.

After Sunday’s game, linebacker Joey Porter echoed Whisenhunt’s feelings.

“We are not that good of a team to make that many mistakes and overcome and still win,” he said. “We have to be where we are supposed to be, not make as many mistakes, cut that down. To be honest we are not playing at a high level to overcome stuff like that.”

Before this slide, Arizona’s longest losing streak since Whisenhunt arrived in 2007 was three games, and that was in his first season.

“We’re not able to come back offensively like we have been able to in the past,” he said. “Some of it I think is attributable to our guys maybe trying to play perfect. When we get to a point where we’re so worried about making a mistake that maybe we make a mistake.”

Left unsaid was the obvious. Coming back offensively was a lot easier with Kurt Warner at quarterback.

But Warner didn’t play defense.

Whisenhunt said everybody is to blame, coaches included.

“We’re all going to work hard to get it corrected,” he said. “I haven’t sensed anything from our team, our staff, anybody, that there’s any kind of fingerpointing or blame or anything like that. That’s not been the case. Disappointment, that’s the biggest emotion that I sense.”