After surprising many with a 10-6 record in 2013, the Arizona Cardinals are now a candidate for regression in 2014, according to ESPN Insider Field Yates.
Yates, citing linebacker concerns and the difficult NFC West, projects the Cardinals to finish 7-9 in 2014.
The Cardinals recently lost linebacker Daryl Washington to a season-long suspension, leaving an already-thin linebacker corps in rough shape. Karlos Dansby is now a Cleveland Brown, leaving Kevin Minter (one career defensive snap) and Larry Foote (age 33) as projected starters. Minter is a downhill thumper, but unproven. Foote has the instincts and savvy to quarterback a defense, but the range concerns are legitimate. The Cardinals were just 3-6 against teams with winning records in 2013 and play in the best division in the NFL.
The depleted linebacker corps certainly hurts Cardinals’ defense, but the team’s schedule is only slightly tougher than last season (.547 opponent win percentage in 2014 vs. .533 in 2013).