According to Patrick Peterson, last season for the Arizona Cardinals was a reality check. The team finished 2016 with a 7-8-1 record after three straight 12-plus win seasons and a trip to the NFC Championship Game in 2015.
The Cardinals’ star cornerback joined The Jim Rome Show Wednesday on CBS Sports Radio and talked about how he’s using the forgettable 2016 season as a valuable lesson learned.
“Last year was very, very challenging, but I think it was a wake-up call,” Peterson said. “So many people were putting us on a pedestal, and we really haven’t done anything yet. We were a team that played very well up until the NFC Championship two years ago. Then last year, people [were] putting us in the Super Bowl, and we thought we were already there. So I thought it was a good eye-opening experience for us.”
The 6-time Pro Bowler believes they will have a much more focused group in 2017 on the day-to-day details that make teams great, which he believes was a weakness in 2016.
“We have guys that are hungrier. We have guys that are willing to respect the process each and every week. Respecting and doing their due diligence as far as game prep,” Peterson said, adding that it was something they could have been better in last season. “Coach also alluded to it all season. It was something like we’d have a thousand mental errors a game, but we don’t have that many during practice. So it was something, that 34-24 hour window leading up to the game to where I won’t say guys were taking it lightly, but guys weren’t doing their jobs as far as making sure they were in tune with the game plan, but now I think everybody is on the same page and we’re definitely ready to roll.”
A Pro Football Focus study had Peterson listed as the most avoided cornerback during the 2016 season by opposing quarterbacks, a study the 26-year-old tried to put into perspective, but assures that it won’t get him from being his best each and every week.
“I think that’s probably one of the reasons I was kept out of the All-Pro voting, because I didn’t get that many opportunities,” Peterson said about quarterbacks not throwing his direction. “But at the same time, I can’t help it, because I’m guarding teams’ number one receiver, week in and week out, and they’re avoiding me. So there’s nothing much more I can do. I’m putting myself in the best position possible to get plays, but at the end of the day, I just want to continue to getting better. I want to continue doing the little things. All I can control is what I can control. I can’t control the quarterback throwing my way or the opposite side of the field.
“I just want to continue to get better and make sure I’m going out there each and every play to where I relapse to like year 14, where I was taking plays off or wasn’t out there for the entire game because they have eyes in the sky that notice that, so I want to make sure I’m on top of my game each and every play so when the ball or play does come my way, I’m more than prepared to make it.”