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Corrections In The Wake Of A Win

Posted Sep 12, 2011

Cards know fixes are easier to make after Carolina victory

Defensive tackle Darnell Dockett (90) can't quite get to Panthers quarterback Cam Newton during the Cards' win Sunday.

For a while Monday, it felt like most of the questions for coach Ken Whisenhunt at his day-after press conference were about things the Cardinals needed to fix.

There were, admittedly, plenty of those. But the questions didn’t come after a loss, they came after a 28-21 victory over Carolina. Fielding those questions – more importantly, dealing with such corrections – always is a little better after a win.

“Can you imagine if we had lost that game in the final seconds or something, after playing that way?” quarterback Kevin Kolb said. “We’d be sick.

“We know it won’t continue that way. And if it does, we won’t be pulling those kinds of games out.”

Offensively, the biggest issue came on a pair of missed scoring opportunities inside the Carolina 10-yard line. One ended up a lost fumble on a pitch play Whisenhunt is convinced would have been a touchdown, the other an eventual missed 36-yard field goal from kicker Jay Feely. To score 10 or even 14 points on those two trips would have dramatically changed the way the game played out.

The issues on defense were further-reaching and not pigeon-holed to just a couple of specific plays (although Whisenhunt noted that 77 of Cam Newton’s record 422 yards passing yards came on a single blown coverage). Defensively, there were “too many mistakes … too many big plays,” he said. “We gave up too much yardage.”

Whisenhunt talked about how both young cornerbacks, A.J. Jefferson and Patrick Peterson, played like young cornerbacks in the opener. He mentioned how strong safety Adrian Wilson “looked like he hadn’t played in a while” and showed rust after missing the preseason with a biceps injury. 

“There were a lot of those guys, especially in the back end, that were not playing coverages the correct way or not making the correct adjustments,” Whisenhunt said.

The Cardinals will see another offense that performed perhaps better than expected this weekend when they go to Washington and face Rex Grossman, Tim Hightower and the Redskins.

“There are things we’ve got to fix that obviously we’re not happy about,” linebacker Joey Porter said. “But we made some key stops, made some big plays. We didn’t plan on (Newton) passing for 400 yards, but when you play like that and you still get the win, it’s more about how the team did. I think the team grew (Sunday). We took a step in the right direction.”

Kolb said the offense performed about as expected. Whisenhunt said Kolb left the pocket too early on a couple of passes, and Kolb said he was still trying to walk that line of staying home as opposed to taking off to try and find a play.

The Cardinals did gain 394 yards, a total they reached just once all last season (396 yards in the loss to Tampa Bay). And that was with an offense that didn’t click all the time and had its best player – Larry Fitzgerald – bracketed most of the game.

Another 20 yards or so – enough to score those two times in the red zone – wouldn’t have hurt either.

“It’s got to be a point of emphasis to clean up those details, especially when they are that critical,” Kolb said.

The message is coming from the coaches. It should be received that much better this week.

“I just think they’re in a better state of mind to take the corrections,” Whisenhunt said. “You’re competing in a tough arena with a lot of people who have opinions about what you do. You don’t get to this level if you don’t have pride or if you don’t have an ego.

“When you don’t make the play or play it the correct way, and you get corrected, it’s very easy to get upset. When you win, it’s a lot easier to take the criticism.”

INJURY UPDATE

Whisenhunt had no injury updates on linebacker Daryl Washington (calf) or running back LaRod Stephens-Howling (right hand). The Arizona Republic, quoting Washington’s agent, said Washington’s injury was not serious and he still could play against the Redskins this week although he could miss some practice time.

LEVI’S TECHNIQUE

Left tackle Levi Brown was “feeling out” the defense early Sunday, Whisenhunt said, one of the reasons Brown had a slow start – the Panthers got a sack early.

“Levi has to be better about trusting his technique,” Whisenhunt said. “The one time he gave up pressure, he overset the guy. ... It was a quick throw, and (even) if the guy beats him outside, he’s not going to be a factor on the play.”

TAYLOR DEBUT EXPECTED

Running back Chester Taylor, who was inactive against Carolina after only having three days of practice, should be active against the Redskins.

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