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Channeling Emotions

Whisenhunt doesn't see need to "rant and rave" with struggling team


Coach Ken Whisenhunt delivers an in-game speech to his team during the recent game against the Giants.

Jeremy Bridges didn't think twice, because for the offensive tackle, football begs for emotions.

Without them, you're not playing the game with your heart," he said. "But you have to control them, and channel them where they need to be."

Emotions, however, flow in a variety of ways. Stuck in a four-game losing streak, coach Ken Whisenhunt wants to avoid getting too emotional. It doesn't make for interesting ESPN segments or satisfy many frustrated fans, but Whisenhunt believes it's necessary to foster a turnaround.

"It doesn't do me any good to rant and rave because those (players) know I am upset," Whisenhunt said. "Sometimes I do get a little bit more emotional about it and I did that after the (Minnesota) game just because our expectations haven't been met. But you know what? I think you have to be consistent in your approach to these guys because quite honestly, that's what they are looking for.

"They don't want someone who is up and down. Whether you are winning four games in a row or losing four games in a row, it can turn the next game. If you are always up and down you never have consistency and what we are striving to be? A team that is consistent."

Whisenhunt has his moments. He flashed the anger in the locker room Sunday and opened his press conference clearly still seething, before dialing it back a bit. During games, he has gathered the team for pep talks that involved a raised voice.

Most of the time, though, Whisenhunt is of the analytical, 'What is going on and how can we make it better' thought process.  

"He's not going to scream and yell," defensive end Calais Campbell said. "That's not his style. When he does, and he has a little bit, especially after last game, he was mad. That's like when your Dad is yelling at you – it makes it hard.

"But we are grown men, he treats us like men, and that's why we respect him."

There was an edgy vibe to the locker room Tuesday. Some players didn't feel like doing interviews, and the weight of their current situation has made an impact. Heading back to the practice field a day earlier than their sore bodies are used to doing probably didn't help.

Getting a fresh start after the bye – or at least interpreting the bye as a fresh start – is part of the mindset. "You need to remember how precious this game is and how easy they can take it away from you," Bridges said.

And as usual, losing exacerbates whatever issues a team might have.

Campbell said players are always going to make some mistakes, but when it comes in a win they aren't considered a big deal or can be minimized.

"When you start losing, it has to be the same way," Campbell said. "You can't make a big deal about the mistakes, you have to just coach them up. To be screaming and yelling, that makes it harder (for everyone) and easier to go into the tank. You have to keep it even keel."

That's Whisenhunt's theory. It's why his emotions, while there, will be channeled just like Bridges said players should do.

"We are striving to be close and have a chance to win them all, and if we do a better job of finishing those games out, then we have become more consistent team and we are more successful," Whisenhunt said. "Am I angry? You're damn right I am angry. Am I upset? Yes. Because I know what kind of team we can be and I am frustrated for our fans we haven't done that."

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