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.

Arizona Cardinals

CLEVELAND, OHIO - OCTOBER 17: Zach Ertz of the Arizona Cardinals looks on prior to the game against...
Wills Rice

New Cardinals TE Zach Ertz bids farewell to Philadelphia in letter to fans

After playing eight years and winning a Super Bowl for the Eagles, the newest Cardinals TE Zach Ertz said an emotional goodbye to Philly.
11 hours ago
Follow @AZSports...
Arizona Sports

Trivia Tuesday: Cardinals players with 800+ receiving yards in a season

Can you name every Cardinals player (since 1988) to have 800 or more receiving yards in a single season? Good luck, it's Trivia Tuesday!
1 day ago
Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury applauds his players during NFL football training camp...
Arizona Sports

SI’s Breer: Kliff Kingsbury was on to Houston as Cardinals closed out Browns

Kliff Kingsbury handed off his duties as Cardinals coach and proceded to plan for the Houston Texans as his team played the Cleveland Browns.
1 day ago
Acting head coach defensive coordinator Vance Joseph of the Arizona Cardinals looks on during the f...
Tyler Drake

Gameday leftovers: Collective effort keeps Cardinals afloat in Week 6

With the odds stacked against them, the Arizona Cardinals pulled together to remain undefeated through six weeks.
1 day ago
Minnesota Vikings cornerback Patrick Peterson (7) reacts after breaking up a pass during the second...
Associated Press

Vikings put CB Patrick Peterson on IR with hamstring injury

Vikings cornerback Patrick Peterson was placed on injured reserve after hurting his hamstring. He must miss a minimum of three games.
1 day ago
Kyler Murray #1 of the Arizona Cardinals throws the ball before the game against the Jacksonville J...
Tyler Drake

The 5: Arizona Cardinals standouts through 6 games in 2021

It has certainly been a team effort across the board, but there have been more than a few key contributors to the Cardinals' success in 2021.
1 day ago
Cardinals’ lack of focus is a correctable problem