When the running game goes nowhere and the quarterback is knocked around like a pinata, the offensive line gets the blame.
Left guard Reggie Wells, the leader of Arizona's front line, has been around long enough to know that.
"No lineman here doesn't understand the kind of scrutiny that comes with the job," he said. "It's nothing that we're going to let affect us in how we prepare and how we go out there and do our job."
The Cardinals (1-2) had last weekend off to ponder what has gone wrong for a team with such high expectations after last year's surprise run to the Super Bowl.
It's the same offensive line, to a man, that started all 20 games last season and, in the playoffs, protected Kurt Warner superbly and even opened some holes for the running game.
Mike Gandy is at left tackle, Lyle Sendlein at center, Deuce Lutui at right guard and Levi Brown at right tackle.
"Nobody's panicking, regardless of what's being said," Wells said. "We're still the same group that took the team to whatever level we did last year."
But coach Ken Whisenhunt acknowledges he expected more from that group than it has shown thus far.
"I don't think there is any question that we need to be more consistent at that position," he said after the team's practice Wednesday. "I think we have shown that we improved last season at that position. We felt like we were pretty solid going into this year."
Arizona ranks 31st out of 32 teams in rushing at 60.7 yards per game, 3.2 yards per carry. Warner, meanwhile, has been sacked seven times, four times in the team's most recent game, a 31-10 loss at home to Indianapolis. The other three came in the team's other loss, 20-16 in the season opener, also at home, against San Francisco.
In between, Warner was hardly touched in his NFL record 24-for-26 performance in Arizona's 31-17 win at Jacksonville.
"Obviously we have to do whatever we're asked to do, whether it's protect or run the ball," Wells said. "We just have to be able to do that on a more consistent level as a group."
Against the Colts, the Cardinals had to abandon the run game after falling far behind. That allowed Indianapolis' star defensive end Dwight Freeney to wreak havoc on Warner, usually at the expense of Gandy.
"We were in a position to make plays and in position to go up early and we just didn't get that done," Wells said. "Then anytime you throw it every down or you're limited in what plays you can call, it's not going to work out the way you expect it to."
The inability to run the ball makes it difficult to use the play-action passes that can result in big plays down the field.
"The more balanced you are, the more you can keep a team off balance, the better it is for the rest of the game," Warner said. "It is key. It's something that we've talked about a long time around here. ... You can be really good in one phase, but if they can key on that, it still makes it hard on you."
That's the way it was in the last regular season, when the Cardinals were last in the NFL in rushing but won the NFC West at 9-7 thanks to a prolific passing game. In the playoffs, Arizona's ground game improved considerably and was a significant factor in the Cardinals capturing the NFC title.
Running back Tim Hightower said the line takes more than its share of criticism.
"It's easy for you to say 'Kurt's getting hit, dang, the offensive line needs to block. We can't run, oh, the offensive line needs to block,' " he said. "Everybody has to step up and do the job, man. It's hard enough what they do. From the outside in, it's easy to pinpoint one group, but it's a collective effort."
In other words, everybody is to blame.
"This isn't about one group or one man or one side of the ball," Warner said. "This is about a team having to come together, finding our identity again, and getting back to work."