Embarrassed Cardinals try to pick up the pieces
Embarrassed on Monday night, the Arizona Cardinals are left to
try to pick up the pieces of a season that once seemed so promising
but now shows signs of a free fall.
Coach Ken Whisenhunt, who endured a six-game losing streak a
year ago, is not one to panic and said so in his news conference a
day after the Cardinals were manhandled by the San Francisco 49ers
The nationally televised flop was Arizona’s fourth loss in a row
after a 4-0 start.
”My biggest sense is that I feel like I’ve let our fans down,”
Whisenhunt said. ”We’ve let our fans down as a team, and that
Now comes a short week of practice and a trip to Green Bay to
face the Packers on Sunday.
The players had Tuesday off before returning to the practice
field on Wednesday. Whisenhunt will be looking to the team’s
leaders to help emphasize what needs to be done to turn things
”We’ll get on these guys more, and I think one of the things is
we’ll have the players get on the players,” the coach said. ”Peer
pressure plays a part in that. You’ve got to get on your leaders to
do that, but let’s not get into a panic here and start changing
things up. We’re going to continue to do what we do, and we’re
going to do it better.”
It was the same mantra heard from the coach a year ago after the
team’s 1-6 start. The Cardinals won seven of their last nine to
Maybe somewhere in this team is the makings of the same kind of
resurgence, although it was hard to see against the 49ers.
The Cardinals have sputtered on offense pretty much all season.
On Monday night, what had been a reliable defense added to the
problems with a slew of missed tackles, mostly in open space,
allowing what might have been short gains to become big plays.
”There’s no question we’ve got a good defense,” Whisenhunt
said. ”We can’t miss tackles. I don’t care what way the game goes,
there’s probably four plays in there where we’re off the field,
especially on third down, they throw a 5-yard pass and it turns
into a big gain or a first down.”
The 49ers’ defense, top-ranked in the NFL, showed how it’s
supposed to be done.
”They made tackles, so that’s why they’re a top defense,”
Whisenhunt said. ”If we aspire to be a top defense, we’ve got to
tackle better. I don’t think other than that there was much wrong
with the way our guys played.
”We got a lot of things done as far as keeping the run game
down, getting pressure on the quarterback, playing physical. We
just gave up too many big plays, not because of balls over our head
or behind us, but because we didn’t tackle.”
The offense, with a running game that managed just 7 yards on
nine attempts, relied on the erratic arm of John Skelton far more
than the Cardinals’ coaches would want. Skelton, in his second
start since Kevin Kolb went down with rib injuries, was 32 of 55
for 290 yards.
Whisenhunt smiled when someone asked about fans now clamoring
for rookie Ryan Lindley to take over.
”I’m sure there are a lot of fans saying a lot of things,” he
said. ”We’re all frustrated with where we are because we feel like
we’re better than what our record indicates right now. … We’re
going to continue to stay the course. The way our quarterback
situation has been going, probably Lindley will get a chance to
play, because it seems like we’ve had some issues there, but right
now we’re staying with John.”
He apparently was talking about injuries, not saying he was
considering pulling the hook on Skelton, who beat out Kolb in the
preseason but went down with a sprained ankle in the opener. Kolb
is a ways away from being able to practice.
Larry Fitzgerald had another frustrating game. One of the NFL’s
best receivers is constantly smothered by defensive coverages. He
was targeted for passes 11 times, catching five for 52 yards,
taking a couple of nasty hits in the process.
Whisenhunt believes it’s time his team delivered more of those
”Times are bad right now,” center Lyle Sendlein said. ”The
only way to get out of that is to win games. You do that by going
to work Monday through Saturday. … Like coach told us after the
game, we have to get tougher and more physical and get after them
that way because at this point we aren’t doing a whole bunch of
things successfully. We just have to start punching people in the
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