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Cardinals searching for solutions to problems that led to 1-2 start

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Hopefully the mirrors around the Arizona Cardinals' practice facility were cleaned before the team arrived Monday morning.

The players needed to take a long, hard look at themselves following a 33-18 loss to the Buffalo Bills on Sunday.

"We just kept shooting ourselves in the foot," coach Bruce Arians said. "But this one was a good fashioned butt-kicking and we took it."

Arians' message to his team Monday wasn't one of steaming rage, rather simple discontent with their showing, which Arians called the worst road game in his 51 games as Cardinals' head coach. Arizona gave up 208 rushing yards, the most during the Arians era on the road. With that came a tenure-high three touchdowns allowed, 175 yards before first contact allowed, 11 rushing first downs and an average of 6.5 yards per carry.

Then there were quarterback Carson Palmer's four interceptions, all thrown in the fourth quarter. They tied his career high for picks in a game and made him the first quarterback since Tom Brady in Week 7 of 2001 to throw four interceptions in the fourth quarter.

There were also the miscommunications on offense, to the receivers in the no-huddle offense and to the right side of the offensive line, Arians said.

"The message to the team was, 'Find a positive way to fix what’s wrong,'" Arians said.

The initial step to fixing Arizona's issues -- both offensively and defensively -- from Sunday, Arians said, is to identify the problem.

"The first thing is to get the player to admit he has a problem," Arians said. "A lot of them say, 'I'll be back Wednesday and it's going to be OK.' It's not that way. We've got to identify the problems and then have a positive way of fixing it. That's what, hopefully, is going on right now."

Arians believes the Cards' issues are "easily correctible." He called them technique problems, whether it was defenders not playing their gaps or trying to make up for the play before, or simply pressing too much.

One of Arians' priorities early in the week is to figure out why Arizona has looked flat coming out of halftime. Their play in the first five minutes of the third quarter in all three weeks hasn't matched what was discussed in the locker room, Arians said.

That's been more frustrating than the Cards' slow starts.

"The beginning of the game, you're going to see new stuff," Arians said. "You see their game plan, your game plan. So if you hit it, Mike makes a catch, a lot of things change. But halftime, all the adjustments have been made. Now it's more gearing back up emotionally, passion-wise, and coming out and playing."

Arians added: "Identifying it is one thing. Finding a solution is another, and I've got to find a solution."

But, wherever or whenever they come from, the mistakes are piling up.

Arians estimated there are five more mental errors per side of the ball per game this season than there were at any point last year.

The Cardinals went through a similar stretch last season, losing two of three after starting the season 3-0. But Arians has noticed a difference in how this year's team has responded to the losses compared to last year's.

"I'm not sure we have a lot of followers. If you're a leader, you've got to have followers, you know?" Arians said. "We've got a lot of young guys, I think, who like doing their own thing. They need to follow the leaders who work real hard, do all the things it takes, because they've been down the road.

"So we're still finding out about ourselves."