With five new starters, the Cardinals' defense didn't have an identity going into the season. After two weeks, it still doesn't.
The unit played well in the season opener, but that was against the Rams, who have a rookie quarterback and little talent at receiver.
The defense was mauled in a 41-7 loss to the Falcons Sunday, and the players, to their credit, didn't make excuses.
"We've just got to play a lot harder," said outside linebacker Joey Porter. "We didn't do that (Sunday) and got an ass whuppin."
The Cardinals believe their failure last week was due to poor technique and tackling. But it also looked like the unit was physically beaten.
The Cardinals will be favored against the Raiders this Sunday, but the Chargers and Saints follow after that. If they don't correct their defensive problems, the Cardinals will have a losing record going into the bye on Oct. 17.
The Falcons humbled the Cardinals with 221 yards rushing on 45 carries.
"One thing I know about is fights," said end Darnell Dockett. "Every now and then it takes a good ass kicking to humble yourself and make you put more work it. We're not where we think we are, so this (the Falcons loss) was probably good for us."
The Cardinals are counting on the defense to come through for them while the offense finds a rhythm early in the year.
With Derek Anderson at quarterback and a reconfigured offensive line, coach Ken Whisenhunt figured it might take a handful of weeks to identify what this group does well.
Right now, not much is the answer. Anderson's protection has been inconsistent, and he's been inaccurate even when he does have time.
Receiver Larry Fitzgerald isn't yet fully recovered from knee surgery, and receiver Early Doucet is likely out until after the bye after undergoing surgery to repair a sports hernia.
That leaves two undrafted rookies, Stephen Williams and Max Komar, among the top four receivers. The idea early was to run the ball, take some shots downfield and play good defense.
That might still be the correct formula, but the Cardinals need to show considerable development over the next few weeks.
The Cardinals can't win committing an average of 10 penalties a week and completing less than 55 percent of their passes.
The most positive thing to come out of the Atlanta loss?
"It is the second game of the season," Whisenhunt said. "We have to play better than that, but we will get in there and correct it."