Cardinals' Whisenhunt soldiers on after ugly loss

BOB BAUM AP Sports Writer Published:

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) -- Arizona coach Ken Whisenhunt is soldiering on.

A day after the Cardinals endured the most one-sided loss in franchise history, the team's ninth defeat in a row, Whisenhunt said he knows only one way to respond in the face of increasing speculation that his sixth season in Arizona may be his last.

"I was a college walk-on, a 12th-round draft pick in the NFL," he said, "so I've always been in situations where you had to fight."

With three games to play, beginning at home Sunday against Detroit, Whisenhunt said he would "stick with" what has been successful in the past.

Whether the players are with him remains to be seen.

In the locker room before the Monday team meeting, defensive tackle Darnell Dockett said he would keep playing hard for defensive coordinator Ray Horton and fellow defensive linemen.

But for Whisenhunt? Dockett said, "No comment."

Perhaps it's not a surprising answer since Whisenhunt fined Dockett somewhere between $100,000 and $200,000 for his behavior at the end of the previous week's game against the New York Jets.

But it's nonetheless revealing about the reality bubbling below the surface in the locker room, where the defense that had been the team's strong point caved to the tune of 493 yards -- 284 on the ground -- in Seattle in the face of yet another awful show by the Arizona offense.

Whisenhunt once rode a wave of popularity for leading the Cardinals to a stunning run to the Super Bowl following the 2008 season, then got the team to the NFC West title the following year. But Kurt Warner retired and nothing has been the same since.

The coach has a year left on his contract and it would cost the Cardinals about $5.5 million to get rid of him, not to mention what it would cost to hire a new coach. The Bidwill family has not been known to throw that kind of cash around.

"I control things that I can control," Whisenhunt said. "Like I said, I understand this business. I have a job to do. I feel disappointed that we haven't done it, but my greatest disappointment is for our fans. They've been so good to me and to us. I feel like I've let them down for not being able to do what we want to do, but it's not for lack of effort and it's not from not wanting to do it the right way."

Requests for an interview with team President Michael Bidwill, the owner's son and the man who runs the franchise, went unanswered.

The 58-0 loss was one point shy of the NFL record for the most one-sided shutout defeat and the franchise's losing streak is its longest since World War II. And that 1944 team, which lost 10 straight, was merged with the Pittsburgh Steelers due to the shortage of players because of the war.

So, how do you pick up the pieces?

"I don't know," safety Adrian Wilson said. "You tell me."

Whisenhunt said he felt mistakes, not a lack of effort, led to Sunday's debacle. He said that players must rely on professional pride from here on out.

"They've got to understand that they're going to be watched and monitored," Whisenhunt said. "They're going to be on tape, and that's one of the things that when you're evaluating players you look at. You see how they handle those things, so we're going to continue to work. I think that we have enough of the right guys on our team, especially good young guys that want to do it right that are hurting, that it shouldn't be an issue."

Defensive end Vonnie Holliday, in his 15th NFL season, said players are "playing for a job, be it here or anywhere else in the National Football League."

The coach wouldn't say whether John Skelton or rookie Ryan Lindley would start Sunday.

Skelton, three games after being benched, returned and threw four interceptions and fumbled the ball away once. Lindley came on and fumbled, too. Two other turnovers came from Patrick Peterson on punt returns.

Overall, Arizona had just two more first downs (10) than it had turnovers (8).

"After a 58-0 loss like that it's hard to come in to work," Skelton said. "But whether we like it or not we're playing those next three games, and I think guys have enough pride to come out and still work and still try to get better for the rest of the year."

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