Coach Ken Whisenhunt and the Cardinals have to find a way to rally after starting the season 1-4.
With the new collective bargaining agreement mandating a certain amount of time off during a team's bye week, Cardinals' players were officially off Monday – they have practice Tuesday and Wednesday – which left head coach Ken Whisenhunt as the lone voice in the wake of Sunday's terrible loss in Minnesota.
"There's nothing I can say to make anybody feel better," said Whisenhunt, whose team is mired in a four-game losing streak. "We have to show it on the field. Our guys are aware of that.
"It's easy to say we're working at it, and we are. Our guys are working, but we're not making the plays."
Whisenhunt was asked directly about his role in the struggles. "How much blame am I willing to take? I'm the coach and we've won one game. The blame obviously falls on me," he said.
The Cards reached the break on a four-game losing streak and must stew about their worst performance of the season until playing again Oct. 23 against Pittsburgh at home.
They will be without starting free safety Kerry Rhodes, who broke his left foot Sunday and will be out "weeks," Whisenhunt said. Rhodes, who could have surgery, is expected to return this season, Whisenhunt added, but for now Rashad Johnson will take his place in the lineup.
Guard Daryn Colledge has a concussion and must pass NFL-mandated tests to return to the field, but that should happen before the Steelers game.
As for the players who remain healthy, playing better may only be the beginning. Quarterback Kevin Kolb said after the game attention to detail must improve, adding "it starts with meetings, it starts with showing up to work on time getting in early and getting your work done, all the stuff professionals are supposed to do."
Whisenhunt said he had not heard the quote, but said "I guess maybe he's talking about doing even more (work)."
"My guess is his message was we have to put even more (work) in and get on the same page," Whisenhunt added. "It's good your quarterback is saying that, because that's important. But I'll say this: They have been."
Asked specifically about players possibly being late to meetings, Whisenhunt said it "has not been a problem … That's not something I'm going to tolerate."
In the past, Whisenhunt said, the Cardinals have been able to compensate for various mistakes here and there – for example, if a tackle missed a block, the ball was out quicker. That isn't happening enough on either side of the ball.
Confidence has also been undermined with the losses, although a more myopic focus on an individual's job would help. Kolb talked about every player looking in the mirror, and that was a theme that resonated.
"It's guys not knowing what they're supposed to do every single snap," wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald said after Sunday's game. "We use the same plays that took us to the Super Bowl and ones that have been successful in the past. Our execution is not where it needs to be. We have to correct those problems."
Clearly Whisenhunt won't change his constant message, because he believes that's how the Cardinals will get back to winning. It doesn't provide for memorable sound bites, but it's what he thinks is necessary.
"I believe in what we know works," Whisenhunt said. "At some point, it will start working."