The Arizona Cardinals are undoubtedly still devising their plan to replace linebacker Daryl Washington, who will miss the entire 2014 season because of a drug suspension handed down Friday.
They are big shoes to fill, no doubt. But one NFL insider thinks even though Washington’s absence will be an issue, the pressure is on another Cardinals unit this upcoming season.
“I think the offense in Arizona is the most important thing,” ESPN’s Mike Sando told Doug and Wolf Monday on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM. “It was much better in the second half of last year, I think quietly so. I think Carson Palmer was much better.
“I think that is going to be even more important now — that Bruce Arians’ stamp on that side of the ball pays off and takes pressure off the defense so they don’t have to carry it every week like it felt like they did at times early in the year.”
Sando’s assessment is statistically proven. In the first half of 2014, the Cardinals averaged 20 points and 314.5 yards per contest. Those numbers jumped up to 27.4 points and 378.3 yards per game after their Week 9 bye. Turnovers were also down substantially from 2.3 per game in the season’s first half to 1.6 per contest in Weeks 10-17.
Sando believes that improvement was not an anomaly.
“I kind of trust Bruce Arians to have the offense going,” he said. “They’re going to miss Daryl Washington. The defense may not be quite as good, certainly at that position, but that’s not the whole team, either and that’s not the whole part of their plan.
“The offense, to me, has to take the next step, and it started to last year.”