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Good For Pat P

Arizona Cardinals v New Orleans Saints Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images

For years Cardinals’ fans have been questioning just how accountable the coaches and players have been when glaring mistakes have cost them games.

Catch phrases such as “the system works,” “he’s a brilliant coach,” and “we have to have gap integrity” have irked even the most forgiving of fans.

I don’t know if you have noticed this, but whenever the Patriots lose, as they did to the Ravens this past week, their head coach always begins his post-game remarks with “we as coaches have to do a better job.”

Some might think that Coach Belichick is being a little disingenuous when he is the first to place the blame on himself and his coaching staff.

But, consider this—-

Coaches are teachers with whistles during the week and maestros with headphones on game days.

The age old question for teachers has always been—-if a student fails your class, is it all on the student?

If a class is downright lousy—-is it all on the class?

From my years of experience as a high school teacher, coach and department head—-the best teachers and coaches always accept their fair share of the blame for student and class failures. The best teachers and coaches actually believe there are ways to press the right buttons for every student, player, class or team, because they believe they have the creative ability and insightfulness to learn what motivates each student or player.

Something wonderfully strange and new is happening within the Arizona Cardinals’ organization—-where once squeezing a mea culpa out of a coach or star player was about as likely as seeing four feet of snow on the corner of Winslow—-suddenly Cardinals fans are hearing mea culpas uttered from all sides of the building.

GM Steve Keim this past week said “that’s on me” with regard to how well he addressed the personnel on defense this past off-season.

HC Kliff Kingsbury has offered a mea culpa in the aftermath of every game. Two weeks ago, he said ‘that’s on me” when asked about going for it on 4th and 1 from their own 30 yard line in a 10-6 game.

This past week, Kingsbury said “that’s on me” with regard to the timeout he called in an “oh sh—- moment” just as Jordan Hicks was stuffing the 49ers on 4th and goal.

And just yesterday, CB Patrick Peterson who had slipped out the door to avoid the media following the Cardinals’ 28-25 loss on Thursday Night Football, and hadn’t said anything yet about a performance in which his man was targeted 7 times and caught 6 of the passes (85.7%) for 118 yards (19.7 yard ave.) and 2 TDs, informed the media that after the game he told his teammates “this loss is on me.”

Up until that point, Steve Keim said to the media that “the team needs its star players to play at their best in order to win” and that “this game was not one of Pat’s best.”

Kliff Kingsbury went as far as to say that while he hadn’t seen the tape yet—-perhaps Peterson was feeling the effects of playing 3 games in 11 days upon trying to get back into good football shape and that he was still learning the system.

Essentially, Peterson could have echoed what Coach Kingsbury said and it could have been an easy cop out.

At first Peterson did concede, “Legs were a little sluggish but that wasn’t the issue, obviously, that was a lot of turnaround within those 11 days. Getting the body used to taking that pounding for a full 60 minutes. I think I’m definitely getting there, starting to turn the corner. Body is feeling great. Just have to make sure those legs are definitely ready to roll.”

And for a moment there it felt like Peterson was opting to take the easy way out.

However, what Peterson avowed next was stunning: “I definitely take responsibility and ownership....When I have the opportunity to take No. 1 receivers out of the game, I have to do it at a high level because that gives us the opportunity to win the ballgame. After the game, I told guys, ‘This loss is on me,’ because at the end of the day I’m a man. I look at myself in the mirror first every morning and as long as I’m true to myself the rest is history.”

Then came the coup de grace when Peterson admitted with regard to the Pettis TD wherein Peterson was beaten badly and then quit on the play: “Honestly because he was so open, I thought the quarterback literally was going to throw it on a line drive, but looking back at that play I definitely thought I could have given more, but I just thought I was out of position. But that just goes to show you you’re really never out of a play until you’re out of it. That was a bonehead mistake by me and I’m looking to hopefully make that up this week by making some plays.”

This was a far cry from the Peterson who sanctimoniously took the credit three weeks ago for the Cardinals win in New York, claiming the victory was in large measure due to the “Pat P Effect.”

It used to be that opposing QBs rarely if ever threw in Peterson’s direction...but in the last two games versus the Saints and the 49ers, Peterson has been thrown at 13 times, 11 of which were receptions (84.6%) for 165 yards and 3 of those catches resulted in TDs.

While this is unusual territory for Peterson, he now has a tremendous opportunity to turn the tables back in the right direction—-as this week he faces a pass happy Bucs team with two WRs in Mike Evans and Chris Godwin who are each typically targeted in double digits every game. Peterson knows he will be thrown at this week and that will give him a chance to do as he says, “make some plays.”

The fact that Peterson is holding himself accountable and not hiding from the truth or relying on excuses could be the best thing for him and the team moving forward.

This season obviously has been a fall from grace for Peterson. Some have recently wondered whether Peterson took performance enhancing supplements because he was feeling that he was on the verge of a physical decline. Not only does he hope to re-establish himself as a top shut down CB, he is looking ahead at his chance to earn a 3rd lucrative multi-year contract with mega millions guaranteed. Peterson must also wonder how his 6 week suspension for PED violations (use and coverup) might impact his Hall of Fame chances.

But, what is very encouraging about Peterson’s remarks is how often he mentioned the team. The more urgency that Peterson feels toward helping the team—-and making the sacrifices that team players do—-this could be the absolute best thing to happen to him and the team.

Yesterday, for the first time, Patrick Peterson sounded sincerely contrite—-and not just because of how unusually poor he was in pass coverage—-but how it cost the team.

These new Cardinals seem to be learning the value of self-accountability and what that means to the overall success of the team.

Even though a couple of weeks ago, Patrick Peterson was urging Kyler Murray to start “talking and acting like the CEO of the team,” maybe Peterson understands better now why Kyler manifests the humble discipline of not getting caught up in media hype or the allure of NFL player of the week individual awards because the priority is to do whatever it takes to help the team improve.

Could the current humble environment in the Cardinals’ organization inspire Patrick Peterson to evolve into the ultimate team player?

Well, hopefully, we are about to find out.