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Booed in opener, Cardinals focus on improvement after loss to Redskins

Washington Redskins linebacker Zach Vigil (56), defensive back D.J. Swearinger (36), defensive back Josh Norman (24) and defensive back Montae Nicholson (35) celebrate after breaking up a pass in the end zone intended for Arizona Cardinals tight end Ricky Seals-Jones, front, during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 9, 2018, in Glendale, Ariz. The Redskins won 24-6. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Steve Wilks’ regular season home coaching debut couldn’t have gone much worse.

A 24-6 loss on Sunday by the Arizona Cardinals to the Washington Redskins at State Farm Stadium included several bouts of boos issued by the home crowd, but Wilks spoke at the podium after the game with calm and perspective.

“As I told the guys, this one game doesn’t define our season,” he said. “If we had won the game, it doesn’t define our season.”

Improvement begins with him, he said, and that will include focusing on the fundamentals.

Arizona struggled to tackle. Like it did in the second preseason game of the year, its defense couldn’t make any dents in the opponent with its front seven. Players didn’t get off blocks, the edges weren’t set and the Redskins regularly found holes up the middle, on the perimeter and in the zone defense.

Third down conversions by the opponent (6-of-13) and few by the Cardinals themselves (1-of-8) continued a preseason trend.

It was the offense that drew the most ire from the fans. As the Cardinals went to the locker room behind 21-0 at the half, a second round of boos rang out.

It was deserved, Arizona veterans said.

“We heard them booing. We didn’t give them nothing good to watch today,” said cornerback Patrick Peterson. “Fans (are) going to be fans. We just have to make sure we stay on course. We have 15 games left, 15 weeks left.”

That the Cardinals have only played one of 16 games was a relief. And because of that, players were all quick to point out there is no reason to panic, no major concerns after one outing.

Even if their fans found the product so disappointing.

“They pay a lot of money. They work extremely hard to be able to buy these tickets,” said receiver Larry Fitzgerald. “They expect (us) to play good football. They didn’t see that today.”

Arizona will hit the road to face the Los Angeles Rams next week. And in typical Wilks fashion, the Cardinals will enter that matchup focusing on the small things and the consistency with them.

“Most importantly, just making sure that we continue to emphasize the details, and if they’re not getting done, make sure they’re getting done,” Wilks said. “It’s going to start in practice on Wednesday — continue to make sure we coach and teach fundamentals and technique and guys got to be accountable and accept that, and go out and execute.”

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