Cornerback Patrick Peterson looks to catch the ball during Monday's practice.
It was the philosophical Darnell Dockett standing at his locker Monday, after the Cardinals had finished up their first post-bye weekend practice and with 11 games – and the reality of a 1-4 record – sitting in front of them.
Time off wasn't pleasant for the defensive tackle -- "They say get away from it," he said. "Bull(expletive). You can't get away from it" – but he does believe in boiling down what ails the Cards in very simple terms starting with a game against the Steelers.
"Our biggest challenge is not Ben (Roethlisberger), not the running back (Rashad Mendenhall), not tackling, not covering," Dockett said. "Our biggest thing, what we need to do, is play together. No matter the outcome, let's all be on the same page every play for four quarters and see the outcome.
"I don't give a damn if I don't have a tackle, don't have an assist. Let's all just do our job at the highest level and see how we come out. There's no guarantee you'll get a win, but let's just see."
Coach Ken Whisenhunt saw energy at Monday's workout and the Cards continue to press on a couple of the areas – like two-minute situations and the no-huddle – but both he and the team were cautious in trying to avoid platitudes.
"You can sit here and say what you want to say, say a couple plays away here, a couple there, whatever. It doesn't matter," Whisenhunt said. "We haven't won the games. We have to try to find a way to win some games. Then we can talk about all that other stuff."
The team did have a players-only meeting last week, and Dockett said there was another important meeting again Monday morning talking about communication and working together. In the end, wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald said, meetings mean little in comparison to playing on the field.
"It comes down to execution," Fitzgerald said, noting that the Cardinals aren't thinking about first-place San Francisco and its 5-1 record because the Cards don't have their own house in order.
The next two games are against AFC powerhouses (a trip to Baltimore follows the Steelers' meeting), making it more difficult to get healthy in the won-loss column.
That's why Dockett doesn't want to go overboard in how the Cards approach this week. Too many times – and the message has been repeated both in meetings and to the media – there is a player or two out of position or making a mistake, fouling up whatever the Cards are trying to get accomplished.
"Do your job on this play," Dockett said. "Don't worry about the next play, don't worry about four plays from now. This play. If you can't do it on a high level on this play, get someone else in, let them do it like we want to on this play, and let's go from there. Once you do that, we will see.
"If we cut on the film Monday and everybody really did their jobs and we lost, I can walk out of the room thinking, 'You know what? We did everything we could.' But I want to see that first. At 1-4, that's the biggest thing. It ain't about being desperate for a win or determination. It's everyone playing together."
And playing period – Fitzgerald took the opportunity to say he thinks Whisenhunt has gotten a “bad rap” when it comes to the Cards' current struggles when it comes down to the players needing to perform.
That's part of what came out of Fitzgerald's own bye weekend, as he watched some teams around the league – like the 49ers – continue to win games. The Cards can too, he said, and have the resolve to do so.
"Seeing some of the success some of the other teams are having just made me realize anything is possible," Fitzgerald said. "We just have to be going in the right direction, put a couple good plays together, put a couple good series together, put a couple good quarters together, put a couple good games together. That's how it happens."