TEMPE, Ariz. -- It all sounds so familiar to the Arizona Cardinals.
They're 4-4 midway through the season, the defense is carrying them and the offense is struggling. Is it 2012 all over again? Nope, not in the least.
Despite having the same mark at the halfway point of the 2013 season, this year’s Cardinals can feel a different vibe in the locker room than a year ago.
“This year there’s been less [of a] roller coaster of emotions,” offensive lineman Nate Potter said. “It’s been more back-and-forth, roll a couple off, lose one, get another one. So that just feels a lot more consistent.”
Before the wheels fell off in 2012 and Arizona lost nine straight, the Cards were the talk of the NFL. They started 4-0 despite sending out two starting quarterbacks. Throughout the team, the feeling that they were on the verge of something special permeated.
Then the first loss led to a second, which led to the third and the fourth and by time they were done -- nine straight. But at 4-4, Potter said there was still hope last season. Gunner Justin Bethel could feel the tension after four straight losses a year ago. Everybody was starting to get tight. Guys were pushing. Coaches and players were scrambling to figure out how to win a game.
This year, however, the overall feeling has changed.
“Losing here and there is a lot different,” Bethel said. “This year we’re 4-4 in the same position in the same part of the season. This year I feel like we got a better chance of making things happen.”
Of course, anything can happen at this point, with the exception of a nine-game losing streak. That’s mathematically impossible coming off a win with eight games left in the season. But nobody is sitting around resting on their laurels.
And nobody is forgetting about what happened a year ago.
“Definitely a different team and a different mentality,” noseguard Dan Williams said. “I think as far as the guys who did go through that last year, we keep that in the back of my mind. Our goal this year is to make it to the playoffs.
“I mean, you can definitely tell it’s a different feeling in the locker room. We want to be playing in January.”