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Bruce Arians calls out Cardinals' defense after disappointing loss

TEMPE, Ariz. -- The Arizona Cardinals' 2016 season has become a broken record and coach Bruce Arians can't figure out why.

Each week a combination of the same issues have plagued the Cardinals, leading to a handful of bad plays that have come to define each game. Sunday's 38-19 loss to Atlanta was no different. A slew of the same issues that have plagued the Cardinals all season were a factor again: Missed catches, penalties, dropped interceptions, deserted assignments.

On Monday, Arians put the defense under the spotlight. He cited three issues that have contributed not just to Sunday's loss but to Arizona's underachieving 4-6-1 record, and all three were direct results of how the defense played in Atlanta.

He felt the veterans haven't done their job to curtail repeating problems, that there's a sense of selfishness spreading through the locker room and that Arizona hasn't played as physical or as tough as they need to. All three were tied together in Sunday's loss.

While those issues are fixable, Arians has yet to see a change, especially over the last month -- and especially against Atlanta.

"I'm very surprised," Arians said. "We've been talking about it for four weeks, and the veterans obviously haven't done anything about it, so maybe young guys will step up and make the opportunity they need."

After watching the film, Arians was left feeling that his defense was more interested in their individual stats than winning the game -- hence the selfishness.

"I thought defensively we had some guys get out of their lane again and try to do too much, tried to get on the stat sheet instead of just doing their job," Arians said.

He used defensive tackle Corey Peters as a positive example. In 35 snaps Sunday, Peters had 35 "pluses" and four tackles. Arians told his team: "If you do your job, you'll be on the stat sheet."

Peters wouldn't blame his teammates for being overanxious, especially as their deficit grew Sunday.

"Everything is a snowball effect," Peters said. "We started getting behind a little bit (and) I think guys started pressing, trying to do more than they need to do. I really can't fault them for wanting to make a play but at the same point, the discipline of the defense is probably the most important thing."

Peters also wouldn't call any of his teammates selfish.

"It's hard to judge somebody's intentions," he said. "Sometimes people make plays or do certain things on tape that they probably shouldn't do but you don't want to take way a guy's aggressiveness and his wanting to make a play. That's a tough question. I would be hesitant to call somebody selfish but we definitely have to do a better job of playing team defense."

One way, Arians suggested, was to be more physical.

The Falcons ran for 116 yards -- an indicator of a lack of physicality, Peters said -- and three touchdowns inside the 5-yard-line.

"You don't allow people to run the ball," Arians said. "You let them throw it in, but you just don't allow them to run it in and they ran it in twice (inside the 2). That's where we set the tempo in training camp."

Arians suggested a reason to blame for a diminished physicality was not hitting in practice last week. But Arians added: "We need to be more physical."

"It's not anything that's not correctable," Peters said. "We're running out of opportunities to get things fixed around here. I think everybody's going to really be locked in and focused this week and try to get back on track."