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An Even-Keeled Approach

Posted Sep 20, 2010

Whisenhunt isn't getting emotional after harsh loss

Nose tackle Bryan Robinson and the Cardinals are confident they can respond from Sunday's loss.


He wasn’t going to thank Mike Smith for beating up on his team Sunday.

He wasn’t going to tell the world to crown the Falcons, or glare at anyone while insisting “You play to win the game.”

Such emotional swings make no sense to Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt.

“You have to try and stay in the middle,” Whisenhunt said, the day after his team was thrashed, 41-7, in Atlanta. That’s the same after a satisfying win than after a bad loss. It’s what the coach believes is the right tact, even if his team’s performance left many shaking their heads in disappointment.

“I know the perception out there (of the Cards) is not the greatest,” Whisenhunt said. “But listen, I think we are excited about showing you we can be a good football team.”

That’s why Whisenhunt made sure to point out the Cardinals were in a similar divot last year after a crushing home loss to the Colts. Why Whisenhunt point out that, with a 1-1 record, the Cards are still tied atop the NFC West.

There were no injuries either – “One decent thing that came out of the game,” Whisenhunt quipped – so the Cards should benefit from an influx of talent with running back Beanie Wells expected to finally return from a knee injury.

It was a loss, but whether it’s by one point or, in this case, 34 points, it’s a singular loss, Whisenhunt insisted.

“No need to throw the baby out with the bathwater,” running back Jason Wright said. “This is a technical game and we’ll look at the technical things that went wrong, not just, ‘Oh, it was so terrible.’ We’ll find out what exactly was terrible and correct it.”

It was embarrassing, safety Kerry Rhodes said, “but it can be an aberration if you make it that way.”

What to fix? Well, a little of everything. There have to be fewer penalties, like Kenny Iwebema’s unneeded (to spring the run) but definite hold that negated LaRod Stephens-Howling’s kickoff return for a touchdown.

The Cards must find a way to slow down the other team’s run game. Both sides of the ball have to come up with a way to shorten the defense’s time on the field; between the defense’s inability to prevent long drives and the offense’s inability to have some of their own drives, the Cardinals’ defense has spent far too much time on the field.

That means more third-down conversions (the Cards were 0-for-8 Sunday) and more accurate passing from embattled quarterback Derek Anderson. Whisenhunt defended Anderson (Anderson was not around during open locker room) about the quarterback’s play, saying the offensive issues are “a combination of a number of guys.”

Whisenhunt also said backup Max Hall played so little – two passes in a brief appearance – that it was impossible to judge him right now.

“It’s on us, not taking care of individual responsibilities and that pools into something real bad,” Wright said. “The other thing is you are playing good teams. This isn’t college football. You’re not playing Southern Central Western State. You will pay for your mistakes.”

Whisenhunt made sure that message was sent, but wallowing in anger didn’t come with the words. There were a couple of light-hearted moments for Whisenhunt both during and after his press conference. Back in 2008, when his mood darkened after certain late losses, it was because he wasn’t sure his team would respond otherwise.

The same isn’t true right now. He believes the Cardinals will rally after this loss, regardless of how bad it was. So both Whisenhunt and his players will be business-like in their approach to doing that.

“We don’t get paid to play football,” nose tackle Bryan Robinson said, matter-of-factly. “We get paid to win football games.”

RHODES NOT WORRIED

Rhodes, who was ejected for putting his hand on an official late in Sunday’s game, said he wasn’t worried about being fined.

“I’m not going to elaborate on it,” Rhodes said, “but I talked to some of the guys in the front office and I think it’ll be fine.”

PATRICK’S DREAM

Tight end Ben Patrick was lamenting the misfire from Anderson on the wide-open seam route Patrick ran down the middle early in the game. Whisenhunt said Patrick could have made the catch; Patrick said he didn’t think he could have. Anderson also had a pass rusher around his legs at the time of the throw, Whisenhunt said.

“In my head, I saw the big Cover Two (coverage) and I thought, ‘I’ve been dreaming for this, waiting for this’ and I turn around and the ball is behind me and all my dreams are shattered,” Patrick said. “I knew he was probably pressured, but for a split second I was living a dream in my head.”
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