Three-time Pro Bowler Darnell Dockett has the Arizona Cardinals shooting for perfection once the opening whistle sounds against the Seattle Seahawks on September 9th at University of Phoenix Stadium.
And he's not accepting any excuses. From anyone. Especially not himself.
“I don’t make excuses,” Dockett said. "We’re just trying to raise the standards around here and not have excuses."
Dockett won't even allow fellow Pro Bowlers to make excuses for mistakes.
Larry Fitzgerald beat starting cornerback Patrick Peterson on a deep route and Peterson told Dockett that Fitz pushed off.
Dockett put Peterson in check after hearing his excuse: "So we get beat for a touchdown and we lose by seven." Peterson agreed and fined himself $200 for making the mistake of getting beat.
Head coach Ken Whisenhunt sees it a bit different. He understands that players will make mistakes, he's just concerned with how they react to them.
“I don’t think you ever accept mistakes,” coach Ken Whisenhunt said. “No one is perfect. Everyone makes mistakes. I make mistakes every day. But you don’t accept it. You are driving to get better. You know young players will see things they have never seen before and part of the evaluation process is how they handle it.
“We are trying to get better. It’s easy to say mistakes are going to happen, but guys who make a lot of mistakes aren’t going to be here.”
Safety Adrian Wilson sees things more along the lines of the way Dockett does, but with a splash of Whiz' mindset. He wants perfection but realizes there will be mistakes. He's just not giving an allowance to anyone for more than two mistakes.
“The first team should expect perfection,” safety Adrian Wilson said. "To say perfection, I mean, there will be one or two mistakes here and there. But you have to stop it at that.”
Obviously each player will make several mistakes this offseason and during the regular season. The deciding factor—especially during OTA's and training camp—is how the team works together to resolve those issues and blend together as a cohesive unit.
The Cardinals have a solid foundation of being able to stick together even when mistakes cost them wins.
After winning the season opener against the Carolina Panthers, Arizona went on a six-game skid. That many severe blows to a team is enough to make it implode.
The Cardinals didn't collapse. They adjusted to the mistakes they were making—most notably on defense. And they finished strong.
Over the final nine games, the Cards won seven and lost two.
So while the players are seeking perfection with their play this offseason, they already possess the most important attributes needed to win and make it to the playoffs: persistence and determination.
By not giving up, and continuing to work hard in the 2011 season, the Cardinals laid the mental foundation for a successful 2012 season.