Arizona Cardinals: 3 reasons for the team’s offensive improvement under Kliff Kingsbury
In their first season under new head coach Kliff Kingsbury, the Arizona Cardinals started the 2019 season with a disappointing 0-3-1 record. However, in the weeks since they have gotten favorable matchups against the Bengals and Falcons and rattled off two straight wins.
With Arizona’s offense beginning to look like what many hoped a pairing between Kyler Murray and Kingsbury would become, the Cardinals have turned themselves from one of the league’s historically bad offenses into one of the league’s best in just a year.
1. Kingsbury has his Quarterback
In most cases, drafting a quarterback the year after you took one in the top 10 would be unheard of, but Kingsbury knew that in order for his air-raid offensive system to work, he needed a signal-caller like Murray.
Think about who was under center for Kingsbury when he onto the coaching scene, a small quarterback who could athletically escape the pocket named Johnny Manziel. Murray’s ability to escape pressure and extend plays is pivotal in an offense that is centered around the pass.
In addition, Murray’s style of play allows for Kingsbury to run a faster tempo offense. Under Kingsbury, the Cardinals have averaged 67.5 offensive plays, compared to the 56.4 they average last year.
2. They are a 2019 Offensive-Minded Team
There was no question what the Cardinals expected when Kingsbury was hired, offense, offense, and more offense. The Cardinals have improved in almost every offensive category imaginable. They have gone from being dead last in points and yards to 17th in points and top 10 in yards.
The Cardinals have been using a lot of motion at the line in an attempt to disguise and trick defenses. Becoming less predictable has led to an improvement in efficiency for their rushing attack, averaging 1.2 more yards per rush than last season.
Rather than handing the ball off to running back David Johnson 20-25 times a game, Kingsbury has utilized him in the passing game extensively as he has averaged just under six receptions and 77.3 receiving yards in the last three games. Taking advantage of the weapons at his disposal and putting them in situations where they can succeed has been key to Arizona’s success.
3, Murray’s Development
We shouldn’t forget that Kingsbury’s starting quarterback is a rookie who everyone assumed would be playing baseball at this time last year. In Arizona’s Week 6 victory against the Falcons, Murray posted his highest completion percentage of the season while throwing for 340 yards.
Murray is still adjusting to the speed of the NFL but has been vastly improving in recent weeks. During this two-game winning streak, Murray hasn’t turned the ball over once while accounting for four scores. We all knew Murray could be electrifying under center, but if he can be efficient and keep the ball out of the hands of the opposing defense, the Cardinals could have something special on their hands.