But difficult losses in the NFL aren’t unique. Every team experiences at least one or two during the season. Every coach deals with it a little differently.
After watching Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt for two-and-half seasons, it’s safe to say the ghosts of Dennis Green’s rant won’t revisit the team’s postgame podium. Frustrated fans sometimes want to hear an edge to Whisenhunt’s public comments, but he remains even-keeled after every game. He stays that way for wins and does it again after losses, even disappointing ones such as Carolina.
“I think our team has seen me get upset a few times when I’m with the team (in the locker room),” Whisenhunt said. “Maybe they need to see that a little bit more from the standpoint of being able to establish that consistency.
“(But) I don’t really buy into that. We have enough good football players that … no matter what the temperature of the game, we can play the style of football that can allow us to win.”
Players believe it as well. This isn’t the college game, where one or two losses can derail the season of a national contender. Most years, even the best NFL teams are saddled with at least three or four losses. A team with seven losses – while not ideal – has even proved it can reach the Super Bowl.
The entire league has long showed itself to be a week-to-week proposition, and there are enough outside forces making snap judgments of greatness after a particular win or doom after a particular loss. So Whisenhunt clearly feels it’d be a detriment to fall into a pattern of emotional ups-and-downs.
“A coach shows faith in your team when you are even-keeled,” defensive end
“I am sure if we continue to go bad and get worse, he’ll get harder. But we’re professionals and it’s our job to figure out what we did wrong.”
That doesn’t mean Whisenhunt doesn’t see the value of emotion helping a team. The Cardinals had that boost when they traveled to Seattle against a team that has turned into a bitter rival, especially in a place where the Cards had long struggled. The Cards gained an emotional edge again in New York for the nationally televised game against the Giants.
But that emotion – and Whisenhunt acknowledged the Cards play better “when we have a chip on our shoulder” – is not going to be there all the time. It’s impossible. That’s when a team must fall back on discipline and technique, issues that were lacking against the Panthers.
“Those are games you are supposed to win and good teams win games they are supposed to win,” Boldin added. “Obviously we let one go. There’s nothing we can do about it now but let it go and move on.”
That sounds like the message Whisenhunt would have handed down. It’s certainly the vibe he left during press conferences both after the game Sunday and again Monday.
There’s a long-held belief that a coach knows he’s getting through to his players when the points he makes behind closed doors are repeated by players as their own thoughts when speaking to the media. Whisenhunt doesn’t want to overreact, week to week, and his players have embraced that ideal.
“I don’t think you need a coach to be rah-rah or be the exact opposite,” tight end
The first-ever 300-yard passing game for the Cardinals was by Pat Coffee, who had 306 yards against the Bears in 1937. No Cardinal has passed for 300 yards against the Bears since – a span of 54 games heading into Sunday’s matchup.