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ESPN: 2003 Cardinals among worst NFL teams of past 30 years

Arizona Cardinals' Derek Anderson (3) gets off a pass as St. Louis Rams' James Laurinaitis (55) and Darian Stewart, left, close in around the pocket during an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 5, 2010, in Glendale, Ariz. The Rams defeated the Cardinals 19-6. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

It’s difficult to call last year’s Arizona Cardinals a bad team when the team’s history would suggest otherwise. Granted, the 2016 Cardinals did finish with a 7-8-1 record, but it does not compare to the franchise’s previous teams that put together long stretches of bad football.

The Cardinals made a few appearances on Aaron Schatz’s piece for ESPN of the worst NFL teams of the past 30 years. The story includes the 2003 Cardinals, who ranked eighth on the list for their 4-12 season, based on DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average) metrics, which measures success on each play based on down and distance.

The Cardinals finished last in defensive DVOA and next-to-last in offensive DVOA. These were among their losses: 38-0 to Seattle, 50-14 to San Francisco and 44-6 to the Browns (who finished 5-11). They did win four games, but only by a combined 14 points, including an 18-17 last-second win in Week 17 to knock Minnesota out of the playoffs.

The 2000 Cardinals team, which finished 3-13, also found itself on the list and ranked 17th.

Two of Arizona’s victories that year came in one-point margins, and the team went 0-8 on the road.

In franchise history, those teams rank first and second in total points allowed for a season. In 2003, the team allowed 452 points and the 2000 version allowed 443 points.

To put that in context, the 2014 Cardinals only allowed 299 points, the least amount of points an Arizona team allowed in a season in the last 20 years.

The 2003 and 2000 Cardinals also have the two worst total point differentials in franchise history. The 2000 Cardinals team had a negative 233 point differential, and the 2003 Cardinals team had a negative 227 point differential.

Schatz also formed a list of the worst offenses of the past 30 seasons, and again some recent Cardinals teams made the list.

The 2010 Cardinals ranked eighth. That year, they were led by three different starting quarterbacks who started at least three games: Derek Anderson (nine), John Skelton (four) and Max Hall (three).

It was also hard to forget the eventful outburst from Anderson in a postgame press conference after an embarrassing Monday Night Football loss to the San Francisco 49ers. Anderson was only able to lead the team to eight first downs and the leading rusher for that game, Beanie Wells, only registered 13 yards.

The 2010 Cardinals finished second-to-last in the league in both first downs and total offense.

The 2012 Cardinals team could not hide from this list either, as it ranked 12th-worst. Arizona had three different quarterbacks start at least four games that season: Skelton (six), Kevin Kolb (five) and Ryan Lindley (four).

The Cardinals went 4-0 to start the season, but that team was a distant memory by Week 12. The Cardinals lost to the Seattle Seahawks 58-0 and had eight turnovers in the game. Skelton, who started that game, finished with 74 yards passing and starting running back Wells finished with 18 yards rushing.

The 2012 Cardinals team ranked dead last in first downs that season with 246 while the New England Patriots in the same year were bagging 444. The Cardinals also found themselves at the bottom of the league in total offense — the San Diego Chargers, who were ranked second to last in the same category, still had 500 more yards than the Cardinals.

The Arizona Cardinals are looking to bounce back from a disappointing season from last year, but fans in the Valley should be glad they are not in the dark place with previous team struggles.

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