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first_imgFollow Craig Morgan on Twitter They were missing an erstwhile stout run defense against the Bills. They are still waiting for Michael Floyd to become a No. 2 wide receiver and they are hiding the fact that David Johnson still has a ways to go in pass protection. All of those issues showed up on Sunday, as did others.“This was a good (old) fashioned butt kicking,” Arians said Monday.How Arians responds — publicly and with his players — will reveal much about his patience, his poise, his ability and his adaptability.Ken Whisenhunt was the toast of the town in his first few seasons, leading the Cardinals to a Super Bowl and another division title. When times got tough, however, Whisenhunt turned increasingly thin-skinned and irritable, lashing out at fans and reporters for their criticism as his teams spiraled downward.Arians and Whisenhunt are different men. Anything more than a superficial comparison is unfair, and it will take more than two losses to see if such comparisons are even warranted, but Arians has gotten away with his blunt approach and his no-risk-it, no-biscuit approach because he’s so funny, so likable, and the Cardinals have been winning.They are not right now, so how will he adapt? Will he remain lighthearted and open? Will he ask Palmer to be more patient with the underneath routes opponents are giving him instead of forcing the ball downfield on a league that may have adjusted to the Cardinals’ plan? Will the quintessential players’ coach be able to coax more out of a group that he said Monday has too many leaders and not enough followers? Will he show the ability to adjust to a changing landscape and not become a flash in the pan? When the Cardinals started 1-2 and 3-4 in 2013, Arians was still learning his personnel in his first season as coach. When Carson Palmer went down in 2014 with a torn ACL after a 9-1 start, nobody expected the Cardinals to survive the first round of the playoffs. When the Cardinals lost the NFC Championship game in Carolina last season, the blame fell largely on the defense and Palmer for uncharacteristically bad performances.He has no such alibis now.This isn’t to say that Arizona’s 1-2 record in 2016 is reason to panic or point fingers. Many good teams have started seasons slowly, only to regroup when it mattered most. If you want to jump off the metaphorical ledge after three weeks, you’re on your own. There’s too much season left.That said, there are myriad concerns after Sunday’s ambush in Buffalo — concerns that weren’t supposed to exist with all this talent and depth — with this heightened sense of anticipation. The Cardinals are missing veteran guard Evan Mathis badly on a right side of the offensive line that got abused on Sunday. They are missing a consistent pass rush from Chandler Jones, who may get his numbers at the end of the season, but may not have a noticeable impact. Derrick Hall satisfied with D-backs’ buying and selling Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians talks with media members after an NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday, Sept. 25, 2016, in Orchard Park, N.Y. Buffalo won 33-18. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes) Former Cardinals kicker Phil Dawson retires The 5: Takeaways from the Coyotes’ introduction of Alex Meruelocenter_img Top Stories Comments   Share   TEMPE, Ariz. — Two weeks ago, after a stunning loss to the Patriots, Bruce Arians walked into the media room at Cardinals headquarters in Tempe and told everyone the target was on his chest, not on his back.On Monday, he clarified what he meant for potential critics.“Just shoot me in the face,” he said.If you believe a man’s true colors show in times of adversity, we are about to get our first deep look at the cool uncle. The Cardinals coach has enjoyed unprecedented success and wild popularity since his arrival four seasons ago, and in his three toughest moments, he has had watertight alibis. “He’s not the type to throw chairs in the locker room or really curse us out personally,” safety Tyrann Mathieu said. “He just really sets standards and he hopes that we all just rise to the challenge.”Like every coach that has ever lost a game, Arians believes the Cardinals’ issues are correctable. He believes the Cardinals are making more mental errors than a year ago, that there are technique deviations and there is a lack of focus apparent in the team’s habitual post-halftime malaise.“Three weeks in a row we have not played the first five minutes of the third quarter like we had talked about in the locker room,” he said. “Identifying it is one thing and finding a solution is another. I’ve got to find a solution.”There is little margin for error now. The Cardinals are standing in a wide open Super Bowl window that won’t be open long. They need to string together lots of wins to get through it. They need their players to perform, but they also need their coach to push the right buttons.A city and state are anxiously hoping that the real face of the franchise has a plan.“We’re still finding out about ourselves,” Arians said. “They know the talent is there. I don’t have to give them that message. The message to the team is find a positive way to fix what’s wrong.” Grace expects Greinke trade to have emotional impactlast_img