Cardinals’ lack of focus is a correctable problem

Oct 20, 2015, 12:30 PM
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Martavis Bryant (10) tries to get away from Arizona Cardinals fre...
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Martavis Bryant (10) tries to get away from Arizona Cardinals free safety Rashad Johnson (26) after making a catch in the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Oct. 18, 2015 in Pittsburgh. The Steelers won 25-13. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
(AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

The question that Doug Franz asked Steve Keim brought clarity to what had been so disturbing – and yet so correctable – about Sunday’s loss to the Steelers.

Are you happy with the Cardinals’ toughness? Do you see a tough team?

“I am happy with the toughness. What I would tell you is I would say there needs to be improved focus. I think there’s a difference there. I think these guys are confident, they have some swagger, they play physical. But when you lose focus, and Ron knows this more than anybody, when you void run lanes and you break down in coverage or you miss a protection, it can really change the outcome of the game. To me it’s the focus that needs to be improved.”

There were a litany of things that went wrong. Turnovers, both too many given up and not enough forced. Red Zone failures. The lack of pressure on the QB.

But it was that lack of focus that gnaws at you. You could see the Cardinals easing up once Landry Jones came into the game as if collectively they said, “Third string QB? Oh we got this. No, no we’re fine, it’s just Landry Jones, we’re good.”

They admitted as much afterward. Calais Campbell said the Cardinals were “caught off guard” that Jones took to the air. Patrick Peterson acknowledged their intensity faded.

“It shouldn’t happen but it did,” Peterson said.

I’ve been covering sports long enough to know that professional sports aren’t always like your job. Most of the time it’s nothing like your job. Sometimes it is and in this case I could relate.

Before the Burns and Gambo Show I used to host a show at night, The 620 Sportsline. Problem was with all the games we carried at night our schedule was sporadic at best. Sometimes we had a full show, no-show, half-show. Some nights we had a half hour show, which is the radio equivalent of coming to face a batter, throwing one pitch and calling it a night.

For the first few times I had that short show I treated it like…well…Landry Jones. Hardly prepped, didn’t organize my thoughts, just opened the mic and winged it. Those 30 minutes felt like 30 hours. After three or four of those train wrecks a change was in order.

The Cardinals had first-hand knowledge of how difficult life can be for a team on its third-string QB. It’s reasonable to think they thought Landry Jones would be the Steelers’ version of Ryan Lindley. When he wasn’t, the Cardinals got caught with their pants down.

The good news is that like many of the Cardinals’ gaffes on Sunday, it is correctable. After the games on Sunday and Monday it’s clear there aren’t a glut of good teams in the NFC, and the Cards certainly still qualify as one of few.

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Cardinals’ lack of focus is a correctable problem