Cardinals Bye Week Report: Birdies Fly The Coop

The Cardinals are off until Sunday but before they left the nest Kevin Kolb and Ken Whisenhunt talked about the state of the team.

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A.J. Jefferson Shines Despite Cardinals' Struggles

A.J. Jefferson has been steadily improving since his time in the NFL began. Jefferson leads the Cardinals in several statistics and has been their best cornerback all season. Shining in a game last week against the Vikings. Jefferson is still young and looks to keep working to improve himself as the season goes on.

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Kolb, Cardinals Stressing Accountability To Salvage Season

The Arizona Cardinals are now off for the next four days. After what quarterback Kevin Kolb described as the "most impressive two days of work I think we've had so far", the team will now go their separate ways and try and clear their minds and rest their bodies and hopefully come back with a renewed confidence and understanding of how to win NFL games.

Kolb and team won't publicly say anything else, but they are still expressing confidence that all is not lost despite the record and standings.

"Just as quick as we lost these last four games, we can win four in a row and we believe that. Believe it first and then we'll have a chance," Kolb said after practice on Wednesday.

The focus this week has been on third down situations and no-huddle offense and defense. Next week, the team will spend more time on two-minute drill. As coach Ken Whisenhunt pointed out, it doesn't take a genius to know that area hurt the team in three games. (Four if you count Carolina which easily could have been another late-game loss.)

Kolb's opportunity for improvement, according to Whiz, is his footwork in the pocket. Not that we didn't already know that, but it is nice to hear the coach acknowledge it was well.

Kevin remains determined to get better and says that only the tough survive challenges like this and he fully intendeds to be here for the rest of his career. In other words, don't count him out yet.

Accountability

When teams are losing, this is something you often start hearing about. 

"The jist (of team recent meetings) was accountability," Kolb said.

"I just think that if everybody has accountability, everybody does their job, we win football games. It's hard to get that many guys to do it, it really is. Everybody has different personalities. I think we have a really good group here of men, professionals...now it's our job to step up and have some self-accountability."

Whisenhunt wanted to be clear that he feels there's been accountability all along (how would it look otherwise?) but that now there needs to be even more.

In a classic case of coach speak, he said, "Our focus has got to be greater on everything we do."

If you're reading that and saying to yourself, "whatever", you're not alone. They understand that all this talk is just talk and nothing will matter unless if shows up on the field. 

But at this point, what else can they possibly say?

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Arizona Cardinals Add Safety Sean Considine, Release Punter Ben Graham

The Arizona Cardinals held practice on Tuesday and will workout again on Wednesday before taking the mandatory four-days off that come during the bye week. Coach Ken Whisenhunt hasn't decided yet if Wednesday's practice will be in full pads. 

The team announced a roster move to back fill for safety Kerry Rhodes who will have surgery on his foot this week and be out for a month. Safey Sean Considine was added to the team and will likely back-up former back-up Rashad Johnson

To make room for Considine, punter Ben Graham was released. This the second time Graham was released by the Cardinals this season. He was cut coming out of camp in favor of Dave Zastudil and then was brought back when Zastudil hurt his knee.

Graham didn't help his cause on Sunday when he line drove a kick out of his end zone that only went 40 yards and didn't have enough hang time to give the coverage time to get down field. The result was the Vikings starting their first touchdown drive from the Arizona 18-yard line. Not good, mate.

With the bye week to give him time to recover, Zastudil will likely be ready to go on October 23 when the Cardinals face the Steelers. 

Here's more on Considine:

Considine (6-0, 212) played the first four games of this season with the Carolina Panthers before being released on October 4. A special teams standout throughout his career, Considine is a seventh-year NFL veteran who began his career with the Philadelphia Eagles as a fourth-round pick (102nd overall) in the 2005 NFL Draft out of Iowa. He played the first four years of his career with the Eagles (2005-08) before signing as a free agent with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2009. Considine set career highs in 2006 with 107 tackles (66 solos), 1.5 sacks, and two fumble recoveries while starting nine games for Philadelphia in 2006.

For his career, Considine has played in 75 regular season games (28 starts) and has 253 tackles (159 solos), 2.5 sacks, four interceptions, 13 passes defensed, two forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries and 85 special teams tackles. Considine will wear jersey #37.

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Arizona Cardinals Shift Blame From Mental Mistakes To Not Making Big Plays

For the last few weeks the focus from the Arizona Cardinals coaching staff has been on cleaning up mental mistakes and getting everyone on the same page. This team felt like they were close to turning the corner and the numbers certainly gave credence to the idea that this team wasn't as bad as the 1-3 record showed. Now, that's all changed.

For coach Ken Whisenhunt the equation has changed to blaming the players for not making plays.

"As a whole, our players have been in position to make plays and we haven't made plays and that's hurting us," Whisenhunt said. "You're going to have your times when you miss tackles or when you hit the wrong gaps, that happens in this game. We're not off-setting that with enough plays to compensate for that."

Whisenhunt specifically mentioned a missed opportunity by CB A.J. Jefferson to making an interception early in the game and called out Kolb missing TE Rob Housler for an easy touchdown before the half.

When asked specifically how much of the responsibility he takes for the team's performance he, of course, said that as the head coach it's on him. But he was also quick to point out that he took this team to the Super Bowl and gave no indication of changing anything about how he does his business.

"You know what, I'll tell you. I know that what I believe in, what we believe in, works and I know you stick to it. I remember four years ago, a lot of people banging on us saying we weren't a very good team and we went to the Super Bowl. I believe in sticking with what we know works. If we make plays, then so be it," Whisenhunt said.

So, to recap, the excuse is no longer on the lack of reps in the offseason or mental mistakes and Whisenhunt accepts responsibility for everything but isn't going to change anything. The blame rests on the players for not making big plays in timely situations.

Got it?

It's not for us to say if that's right or wrong, but it is certainly interesting to note the change.

Monday morning spin

Whisenhunt also deftly downplayed Kolb's remarks after the game in which he seemed to call out his team for not working hard enough and even showing up late to meetings and practices. 

"I guess maybe he's talking about meeting even more," Whisenhunt said, adding that players were already meeting after and before practice and there were no issues with people showing up late.

Next

The Cardinals enter the bye week which brings a different schedule. The team will practice on Tuesday and Wednesday with a focus on third down and red zone situations. They are then off Thursday through Sunday per the new CBA. Next week, preparation begins for the Pittsburgh Steelers at home on October 23.

For more on the Cardinals, visit AZ Revenge of the Birds blog. 

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