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Keim: Cardinals’ bye week ‘couldn’t come at a better time’

Arizona Cardinals' Carson Palmer (3) is sacked by Carolina Panthers' Kawann Short (99) in the second half of an NFL football game in Charlotte, N.C., Sunday, Oct. 30, 2016. (AP Photo/Bob Leverone)
LISTEN: Steve Keim, Cardinals general manager

The Arizona Cardinals have reached the midway point of their 2016 season.

But instead of sitting atop the NFC West and re-establishing themselves as one a true Super Bowl contender, the Cardinals are limping into their bye week, both figuratively and literally.

Arizona dug themselves a hole they couldn’t dig out of Sunday in Charlotte, falling to the Panthers 30-20 to drop their record to 3-4-1 as they head into an open date in Week 9.

“I think the bye couldn’t come at a better time, not only to get healthy, but to reassess where we’re at,” general manager Steve Keim told Doug and Wolf Monday morning on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM. “To be able to look yourself in the mirror and self-evaluate and try to get some answers for why some of the mistakes have taken place and whether it’s a personnel decision I made or whether it’s something organizationally on the roster — we may need to make a change, which we won’t hesitate to do if we think we can get better.”

After a 13-win season that ended in an NFC Championship Game loss to Carolina, the expectations for the Cardinals were sky-high, both nationally and in their own locker room. Yet, the 2016 version of the team hasn’t looked anything like last season’s. Keim diagnosed what he sees as the difference.

“Probably, on both sides of the ball, just playing smart,” he said. “Minimizing the little mistakes, the attention to detail. Last year, we won a lot of the close games because we made the plays. Generally, why do you make plays or not make plays? A lot of times, it’s the mental side of it.

“It’s one thing to get beat physically, but to not be prepared mentally or be prepared through your game study or your preparation off the field, that’s tough to swallow.”

It’s hard to determine how much the mental side was a factor Sunday in Charlotte, because the Panthers, especially their defensive front, physically dominated the Cardinals’ offensive line. Quarterback Carson Palmer was sacked eight times in the loss.

While nobody in the organization is happy with what they’ve seen so far, Keim remains optimistic, especially with eight games remaining on the schedule.

“Well, the silver lining is the NFC West. It’s not like anyone is running away with it and we’re certainly in a position to challenge still at that spot,” he said. “The great news for us is, it’s all on us and it’s time for us to step up and do the little things right.”

Seattle, whom the Cardinals played to a 6-6 tie in Week 7, currently lead the division with a 4-2-1 record. The Seahawks lost on the road in New Orleans Sunday and have a pretty tough stretch of games — vs. Buffalo, at New England and vs. Philadelphia — on the horizon.

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