Embarrassed Cardinals try to pick up the pieces


Embarrassed Cardinals try to pick up the pieces

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) Embarrassed on Monday night, the Arizona Cardinals are left to try to pick up the pieces of a season that once seemed so promising but now shows signs of a free fall.

Coach Ken Whisenhunt, who endured a six-game losing streak a year ago, is not one to panic and said so in his news conference a day after the Cardinals were manhandled by the San Francisco 49ers 24-3.

The nationally televised flop was Arizona's fourth loss in a row after a 4-0 start.

``My biggest sense is that I feel like I've let our fans down,'' Whisenhunt said. ``We've let our fans down as a team, and that hurts.''

Now comes a short week of practice and a trip to Green Bay to face the Packers on Sunday.

The players had Tuesday off before returning to the practice field on Wednesday. Whisenhunt will be looking to the team's leaders to help emphasize what needs to be done to turn things around.

``We'll get on these guys more, and I think one of the things is we'll have the players get on the players,'' the coach said. ``Peer pressure plays a part in that. You've got to get on your leaders to do that, but let's not get into a panic here and start changing things up. We're going to continue to do what we do, and we're going to do it better.''

It was the same mantra heard from the coach a year ago after the team's 1-6 start. The Cardinals won seven of their last nine to finish 8-8.

Maybe somewhere in this team is the makings of the same kind of resurgence, although it was hard to see against the 49ers.

The Cardinals have sputtered on offense pretty much all season. On Monday night, what had been a reliable defense added to the problems with a slew of missed tackles, mostly in open space, allowing what might have been short gains to become big plays.

``There's no question we've got a good defense,'' Whisenhunt said. ``We can't miss tackles. I don't care what way the game goes, there's probably four plays in there where we're off the field, especially on third down, they throw a 5-yard pass and it turns into a big gain or a first down.''

The 49ers' defense, top-ranked in the NFL, showed how it's supposed to be done.

``They made tackles, so that's why they're a top defense,'' Whisenhunt said. ``If we aspire to be a top defense, we've got to tackle better. I don't think other than that there was much wrong with the way our guys played.

``We got a lot of things done as far as keeping the run game down, getting pressure on the quarterback, playing physical. We just gave up too many big plays, not because of balls over our head or behind us, but because we didn't tackle.''

The offense, with a running game that managed just 7 yards on nine attempts, relied on the erratic arm of John Skelton far more than the Cardinals' coaches would want. Skelton, in his second start since Kevin Kolb went down with rib injuries, was 32 of 55 for 290 yards.

Whisenhunt smiled when someone asked about fans now clamoring for rookie Ryan Lindley to take over.

``I'm sure there are a lot of fans saying a lot of things,'' he said. ``We're all frustrated with where we are because we feel like we're better than what our record indicates right now. ... We're going to continue to stay the course. The way our quarterback situation has been going, probably Lindley will get a chance to play, because it seems like we've had some issues there, but right now we're staying with John.''

He apparently was talking about injuries, not saying he was considering pulling the hook on Skelton, who beat out Kolb in the preseason but went down with a sprained ankle in the opener. Kolb is a ways away from being able to practice.

Larry Fitzgerald had another frustrating game. One of the NFL's best receivers is constantly smothered by defensive coverages. He was targeted for passes 11 times, catching five for 52 yards, taking a couple of nasty hits in the process.

Whisenhunt believes it's time his team delivered more of those hits.

``Times are bad right now,'' center Lyle Sendlein said. ``The only way to get out of that is to win games. You do that by going to work Monday through Saturday. ... Like coach told us after the game, we have to get tougher and more physical and get after them that way because at this point we aren't doing a whole bunch of things successfully. We just have to start punching people in the mouth.''


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Is Adrian Peterson a good fit with the Redskins?

Is Adrian Peterson a good fit with the Redskins?

Adrian Peterson is one of the best running backs in NFL history.

But is he the best running back for the Redskins right now?

The Redskins signed Peterson, 33 years old and a 12-year NFL veteran, to a one-year contract. They have been hit with injuries at the running back position, most notably the loss of second-round pick Derrius Guice for the season with a torn ACL. They didn’t make any moves when that diagnosis was announced a week and a half ago. But they lost two more backs to short-term injuries last Thursday and they decided that now is the time to go out and get somebody.

Is the need for a running back really there? Rob Kelley was the starter for the last half of the 2016 season and for seven games last year before a variety of ailments sent him to injured reserve. Samaje Perine became the starter after that and while he struggled at time he also showed growth potential.

Kelley is 25 and Perine is 22. In the absence of Guice, they could develop and when Guice returns next year the team would have a good stable of young running backs.

But now, Peterson is in the picture. We don’t yet know what his role will be, but they did not sign him to be the back who is inactive on game days. He will get some carries and that will take work away from Perine and Kelley.

Now, if Peterson is more productive than either of the two younger backs then that is a worthwhile swap. But what does he have left in the tank at age 33?

Last year, playing for the Saints and Cardinals he gained 529 yards on 156 carries, a very pedestrian average of 3.4 years per carry. That is very similar to the production of Perine, who had 175 carries for 603 yards, a 3.4 average. In his two years in the NFL, Kelley has averaged 3.9 yards per carry.

By signing Peterson, however, the Redskins are hoping that Peterson has one more big year, or at least a medium year by his standards, left in him. After all, it was just in 2015 that he led the NFL in rushing for the third time in his career as he ran for 1,485 yards and averaged 4.5 yards per carry. The Redskins would be delighted if he could get half of that total.

Any free agent signing can only be evaluated when the contract details are available. We only know that it’s a one-year deal and according to some reports he did not get any money guaranteed at signing. That seems to be a team friendly deal, but we will have to see what might kick in if he is on the Week 1 roster.

As with everything else, time will tell if this move works out. If the money is right, it’s a low risk transaction with some possible upside for Washington.

Back during minicamp while talking about how quickly Alex Smith would have to get up to speed with the offense, Jay Gruden said that the Redskins are not in a rebuilding mode and that they need to win now. After the trade for Smith, the Peterson signing is another indication that patience may be wearing thin.

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Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, and follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCS and on Instagram @RichTandler

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Former MVP Adrian Peterson signing with Redskins amid mounting RB injuries

Former MVP Adrian Peterson signing with Redskins amid mounting RB injuries

The Redskins agreed to terms with free agent running back Adrian Peterson, per multiple reports and confirmed by NBC Sports Washington.

Washington added Peterson as their running back group took a number of hits this preseason. Rookie Derrius Guice was lost for the year in the preseason opener, while Byron Marshall, Martez Carter and Samaje Perine got hurt in the second preseason game against the Jets.

Peterson is a huge name. He’s likely headed for the Hall of Fame when his career ends, and he’s one of only a handful of rushers to gain more than 2,000 yards in a season.

His best seasons came with the Vikings, but Peterson hasn’t delivered top flight results since 2015.

If he’s healthy and ready to go, Peterson could be a tremendous steal for the Redskins. There is no way to know until he suits up in the preseason, which could happen as soon as this Friday night against Denver.

On the roster, Washington has Rob Kelley, Kapri Bibbs and Chris Thompson available at running back. At his best, Peterson is significantly better than that group.

Will the Redskins get Peterson at his best?

That’s the big question. And with two preseason games remaining, he will get the chance to prove it.