When times were good for the Cardinals, coach Bruce Arians’ brutal honesty regarding his players was refreshing because it was unique in the NFL, where most coaches say interesting things only by accident.

Arians criticized running back David Johnson for running poor pass routes while Johnson was in the midst of gaining 1,000 yards receiving. He noted that defensive tackle Calais Campbell should have double-digit sacks if Campbell tackled the quarterback every time he should. He nicknamed tackle D.J. Humphries “knee-deep” because putting a foot in Humphries’ rear didn’t provide enough motivation.

It was funny stuff – still is – and Arians’ players never seemed to take offense.

But when times are bad for the Cardinals, as they are now, Arians’ brutal honesty regarding his players comes off as Arians deflecting blame from himself, his coaching staff and the front office.

It sounds a lot like what baseball manager Rocky Bridges once said: “I managed good, but, boy, did they play bad.”

That’s why it was unusual the way Arians opened his postgame press conference in Houston last Sunday after the 31-21 loss to the Texans. He blamed himself for the team’s failure on fourth-down-and-short late in the game.

“It was very simple. I cost our team the game.”

There’s your headline, he told reporters. You can write it.

Not long afterward, however, Arians had us rewriting.

After his news conference, Arians appeared with Paul Calvisi on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM.

“I regret taking the fourth-down play now. It was a bad call and a bad decision,” Arians said. “I trusted our guys way too much and put the game in their hands at that point. Probably shouldn’t have put it in their hands.”