When teams lose key players, downturns are expected. After the 2009 Arizona Cardinals finished their season with a third straight non-losing season and second straight NFC West championship, players started heading out the door. Quarterback Kurt Warner ended an amazing career with his January retirement. Receiver Anquan Boldin was dealt to the Baltimore Ravens. Karlos Dansby signed the highest contract for a 3-4 inside linebacker in NFL history with the Miami Dolphins. Safety Antrel Rolle got seriously paid by the New York Giants. Those four losses alone cost the Cardinals 61 starter games -- games for starters that don't transfer to the next season. But it was the positional impact that upended an Arizona team that goes into Monday night's game against the San Francisco 49ers with a 3-7 record and the second-worst overall ranking in Football Outsiders' DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average).
11hJohn N. Minton III