Identity Crisis in Arizona Cardinals Offense Thus Far

The Arizona Cardinals have yet to get an identity as to what type of team they will be this 2020 NFL season. The Kliff Kingsbury air raid offense has not produced an offensive juggernaut as it’s designed to do.

The NFL has had its taste of “spread them out and throw it around the yard” offenses thru the years and many players that play on defense around the league do not want to see another one come around.

Kliff Kingsbury did a masterful job the final eight games of the 2019 season, as he incorporated a power running game to his offense.

The offense the Redbirds finished with last season was far from an air-raid attack from college football, in fact, it looked more like a pro-raid style because of the run game that was instituted.

Open up the 2020 season and one would think that coach Kingsbury would adhere to the style of play that gave some success last year, but instead, he is still experimenting with his offense and the Cardinals have yet to establish some form of consistent identity. 

So what’s missing? in this year’s Cardinals, the run game has not been as significant as it was the second half of last year after adding Kenyon Drake in a trade from the Miami Dolphins. 

Head coach Kliff Kingsbury really wants a potent passing game and is allowing quarterback Kyler Murray to throw the ball a large number of times per game as opposed to running.

Let’s look at the rush yards the first three games as opposed to last year’s last three games.

Last three games last year the Cardinals rush attack gained 550 yards, and of that total, quarterback Kyler Murray accounted for 96 yards leaving the running game total 454.

Turn to 2020, the first three games the run attack has gained 449 yards, and of that total, Murray has 187 leaving a rush total of 262 in three games.

The average per game in 2019’s last three games minus Murray’s run total is 151.3 per game, and the average the first three of 2020 is 87.3.Take away Kyler Murray’s rush yards which came on scramble drills mostly this season, the Cardinals rush attack with Kenyon Drake and Chase Edmonds has been very average and non-existing.

Maybe a result of Kenyon Drake not as efficient or is it the lack of opportunity to get in a rhythm running the ball early in games because coach Kingsbury is throwing it a lot.

Kyler Murray cannot be the teams leading rusher if they want to be successful going forward, and Kingsbury must get back to a level of discipline of running the football to set-up his passing attack.

Kyler Murray and Kenyon Drake the Arizona Cardinals run attack

We have seen him be very impatient trying to do trick plays very early throughout the start of the first three games.

In the NFL for a trick play to work effectively requires a build-up to the element of surprise, usually, a consistent run game gets a defense expecting the predictable allowing for the surprise big play late in games.

The Cardinals run attack can be potent or deadly if last years Kenyon Drake and this years running of Kyler Murray are combined, but Kliff has used the first three games to get his newest weapon newly acquired wide receiver Deandre Hopkins going in his passing attack.

The passing attack has 113 attempts through three games and Hopkins has 37 of those attempts which are about 41% of the teams passing total.
After not having a regular off-season and no pre-season games to work through this challenge, the results have yielded an up and down and off-balance offense.

So far, winning a big game against the division foe 49ers, then turn around and fall to a team they should have run right over in the Detroit Lions.

The solution to this early season problem is for Coach Kingsbury to exercise a little patience in his play calling, allow his run game to set-up the big plays and trick plays which will also give his young quarterback less opportunity to turn the ball over.

Let’s hope by week six in Arlington Texas this offense will be an attack that the defensive coordinator has headaches trying to stop.

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