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ESPN’s Ron Jaworski: Some Cardinals players are ‘mentally weak’

Former Philadelphia Eagles player Ron Jaworski talks with the media during the press conference announcing that the 2017 NFL Draft will be held in Philadelphia, Thursday, Sept. 1, 2016, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)

LISTEN: Ron Jaworski, ESPN NFL analyst

ESPN NFL analyst Ron Jaworski saw the Arizona Cardinals as a Super Bowl contender to begin the year. On paper, the roster didn’t show obvious holes.

But the Cardinals’ 4-4-1 start to the season extended by a too-close-for-comfort win against the 1-8 San Francisco 49ers team last week has bore out a different reality.

“Dropped balls, poor throws, bad blocking — I mean, it wasn’t close to the team I thought they would be,” Jaworski told Burns and Gambo Thursday on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM. “I’m not going to use this term ‘mentally weak’ as a team because that’s a very strong statement, but I think there are some players on this team that are mentally weak and they don’t understand — I’m not going to name names — what it takes to win week in and week out, the commitment that it takes to be successful.

“It’s not always about the talent. It’s about the commitment,” Jaworski added. “And I think there are some guys on that Cardinals’ roster that give me pause.”

Arizona’s offense has been mediocre after setting the NFL on fire with its big-play passing attack a year ago. While Jaworski wouldn’t name names when it came to mentally weak players, he did say quarterback Carson Palmer has not played up to his potential, especially when it comes to avoiding turnovers in key situations (see his late interception against San Francisco as one example).

Meanwhile, the Cardinals defense has excelled by the numbers, but it hasn’t performed well enough to prop up the up-and-down offense. Most noticeably, the unit has struggled to put games to bed.

“I think there are a few guys that I don’t see on tape playing with the intensity and effort that you need to play, particularly at gut-check time, third-down situations — critical situations that you must win,” Jaworski said. “Those are the areas right now that the Cardinals are struggling.”

Jaworski called the 49ers victory a “deodorant” on Arizona’s troubles, adding that “you cannot go into that meeting on Monday and be happy about the performance.”

The ESPN analyst, who said the Cardinals next opponent in the Minnesota Vikings has its own set of struggles, said the Week 12 game in Minneapolis is a “litmus test” of sorts.

That said, “Arizona could win this game and I think they should win this game,” he said.

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