Quarterback Kurt Warner said the struggling Cardinals have to figure out what they are playing for before they can fix what ails them.
Kurt Warner knew the questions were coming, and that was OK, because he had something to say.
The Cardinals had been off for two days following their debacle in New England, and when asked about the team's late-season skid, the quarterback didn't hold back.
"It's going to get to the point shortly where there is no tomorrow," Warner said, with the Cards beginning their preparations for Sunday's regular-season finale. "Who wants to spend six months thinking, 'If I had just done a little bit more?' I know I don't want to be saying that."
Inside the locker room, Warner was making an effort to get his point across. Outside, he sounded increasingly impatient waiting for the message to be received.
"We have to figure out what we are playing for," Warner said. "Are we playing for the first game in the playoffs? Or are we playing to get better and win a championship? We need to figure out real quick what it takes. We have to understand the mental part of the game. You win and lose games 95 percent of the time mentally.
"We are talented enough, but we have been saying that for years. We have to get mentally prepared to play. You have to know your assignments so well and your concepts that you don't second-guess yourself, you don't worry. You can't add a little weather to it and be skeptical of what you are doing. We have to get to that point where every man steps up and says 'I am not going to be that guy.'
"This is the ultimate team game. All it takes is one guy (to make a mistake) on any given play and it can go against you. That's something the leaders have been trying to instill for a long time. Sometimes you have to take guys by the hand, lead them to where they are going, but at the same time, everyone has to realize where we are."
Warner said the Cardinals can try to prepare for the Seahawks' game like it is a playoff game, but he likened it to setting a clock ahead five minutes to make sure you aren't late – in the back of the mind, you always know it is fast by five minutes.
Time is short for the Cardinals to fix their issues, something both Warner and Whisenhunt acknowledged. It has made what would normally be a "meaningless" home game against the Seahawks full of meaning.
"The way our state of mind is right now," Whisenhunt said, "anywhere, anytime, any place, we'd be looking forward to playing."
Most players continue to emphasize they will work to get better. Defensive tackle Darnell Dockett said the players "have nobody to blame but the people who put the helmets on every day."
But, Dockett said, those same players will find a way to rebound.
Wide receiver Anquan Boldin said after the game and then reiterated that the Cards will be ready when the playoffs begin.
Warner, however, isn't ready to talk in absolutes, admitting he has "no idea" if the Cardinals have enough time to fix what's wrong.
"I think I have figured it out," Warner said. "I have been around long enough that I think I know what it takes. But a lot of guys haven't been.
"I don't know how far away we are. I just know if we want to go farther than the first round, everybody's got to do it."
Contact Darren Urban at firstname.lastname@example.org. Posted 12/24/08.