TEMPE, Ariz. – Victory Mondays have become the norm this season for the Arizona Cardinals, but they’ve also been a day of work, even if it's just voluntary.
For the last six weeks, the Cardinals' veterans have showed up to work on Mondays, getting in a lift and watching film on their own time. When they had to show up this Monday after losing 19-3 to Seattle, it was nothing out of the ordinary for the NFC West leaders.
Except, this Monday included a team meeting -- and a tongue lashing or two.
The message wasn’t just about avoiding a two-game losing streak by beating Atlanta this weekend. It was about fixing the myriad mistakes from the Seahawks game: Quarterback Drew Stanton's accuracy, missed sacks, dropped passes, poor pass protection and missed tackles, to name just a few.
General manager Steve Keim said on Arizona Sports 98.7 that he was disappointed with Arizona’s overall lack of execution.
“But, more than anything, and we knew this going in there, when you play in a hostile environment like that against a good football team, I think you have to match their level of intensity in all three phases,” Keim said. “And we certainly didn’t do that in two of the areas -- offensively and special teams.”
Cardinals coach Bruce Arians even found areas to fix on defense -- which held the Seahawks to four field goals before a touchdown on a broken play.
“Looking back at the tape, I thought defensively, missed tackles on the quarterback cost us points,” Arians said. “The three or four field goals they got, I know three of them were off of busted plays where we either missed a sack, chased him out of there, didn’t cover our guy and dumped a receiver, all leading to points.
“Seven sacks is a nice day but when you miss four more, it could’ve been a huge day. Those are huge points. In a game like that, we can’t give away three points at a time.”
Arians even felt Calais Campbell, who had a career-high three sacks, could've played better. "He had a potential five-sack day," said Arians of Campbell.
Stanton finished with 149 yards passing but Keim said it was tough to assess Stanton’s performance because the run game wasn’t effective. That led to ineffective play-action which didn’t keep Seattle’s defense honest. The Seahawks blitzed Stanton on 10 of his 32 drop backs, and he completed just two passes when blitzed, according to Pro Football Focus.
The pressure forced Stanton to scramble, but he wasn’t as successful on the move as his counterpart, Russell Wilson. Seattle forced eight quarterback hurries, according to PFF. Stanton ran for 23 yards compared to Wilson's 73.
“I think with the pressure that he was getting, his scrambling ability was nice but we didn’t make anything of it,” Arians said. “They were all incompletions, where Russell was making plays when he was scrambling around.
“We didn’t get anything from the improv part of it, and there was too much of it happening.”
According to ESPN Stats & Information, the Cardinals dropped just two passes Sunday but one, by Jaron Brown, was in the end zone. But Keim felt Stanton made it as hard on his receivers as his receivers made it hard on him.
“I thought he made our receivers work a little too much for the ball,” Keim said. “And we didn’t help him a couple times dropping some passes. I didn’t think it was one of Drew’s best games, but I know Drew’s a great competitor and really good leader for us. I know he’ll be ready to play next week in Atlanta.”
In just his second Monday meeting of the year, Arians told the Cardinals that Sunday wasn't just a loss.
"Learn from this because we play them again real soon. We're 9-2 for a reason. We lost two games on the road. We have a big road game coming up but we play these guys again, so make it fresh in your mind," Arians told the Cardinals. "Make sure we get these corrections. It's not like playing Denver, who we wont see again until maybe in the Super Bowl. When you play a team twice in a month, you've got to learn from your mistakes and you've got to remember them."