Quarterback Carson Palmer talks with guard Mike Iupati on the sideline last Sunday during the Cardinals' loss in Atlanta.
From the time Bruce Arians arrived in Arizona, the coach put into use his Accountability Board.
It was simple, really, tallying the day's mistakes – whether it be from a practice or a game – and letting everyone on the team know who was to blame, and for what.
That hasn't gone away. So as the Cardinals try to figure out why this season has gone sideways, a 4-6-1 disappointment with five games to play, accountability remains a hot topic.
Safety Tyrann Mathieu and Arians both mentioned it following last weekend's loss to the Falcons. As quarterback Carson Palmer said, the notion of accountability is inevitable when things aren't going well. Correcting things weekly after being held accountable, well, that's been a different story.
"When you don't win, it's always execution," Palmer said. "It's always being accountable and mental errors. There's always kind of a theme, after a win, after a loss. Our accountability sheet is always up after practice, after games. It's not that guys don't want to be accountable or don't care about it. We're always stressing being accountable, being in the right spot, doing the right technique, doing your job."
Mathieu brought up inconsistency. No one can seem to explain why the Cardinals seem to prepare well and practice well and then have it not translate to Sunday – although as Palmer said, "there's a big difference between a practice rep and a game rep."
The most used word in the locker room of late has been a version of "frustrating."
Arians garnered headlines this week by saying, among other things that "selfishness instead of selflessness that has crept in" to the team.
Arians also said veterans had yet to do anything about the problem of players doing their job – again, a spoke in the accountability wheel. Arians said Wednesday there wasn't really any way for him to know how the players control their own locker room. Sunday – when the Cards face Washington – will show that sign.
Both Arians and players, however, didn't see a problem with the criticism.
"They usually respond very well (to criticism)," Arians said. "If they don't, you have a problem. We've never had any problem with guys responding."
Palmer called that "Coach's job," and said players need to understand that was how this team was built.
"We're all big boys," Palmer said. "If you don't do your job you get called out. That's just how it is."
Mathieu was even stronger in his defense of Arians.
"That's why we love him," Mathieu said. "He's critical. He's honest. He speaks how he feels."
"For me, I like to be criticized, I like to be coached," Mathieu added. "I'll do my part as a leader to try to get everybody fired up. I think we're lacking a little bit of enthusiasm, like I said, confidence and swagger. All those things come when you win football games, so we've just got to get one win under our belt."
Palmer said that over the years, he's learned how to deliver messages to teammates so they resonate. He's continued to do that, although he noted it wasn't necessarily going to be in the public forum that Arians sometimes chooses.
It's also different, Mathieu said, to come at the problems from the perspective of coach as opposed to player.
"As a team, we're highly invested and we want to win ballgames," Mathieu said. "Everything just isn't coming together for us this year. At the end of the day, we have to find a way to win one game. It's not really about going to the playoffs or anything like that."
The Cardinals' receiving leaders through 11 games