The Arizona Cardinals were the picture of ineptitude last year, finishing 3-13 and ranking 32nd offensively and 26th defensively. Somehow the Cardinals managed to finish dead last in rushing and passing, not to mention fielding one of the league's worst offensive lines. As a result, massive changes are afoot starting with the addition of head coach Kliff Kingsbury and his version of the Air Raid system. In keeping with the Kingsbury hire, ownership, and GM Steve Keim greenlit the drafting of Kyler Murray as the team's new franchise quarterback. They also loaded up with a bunch of new offensive pieces in the offseason.
In this Roundtable, we address:
- Kliff Kingsbury's system and its NFL fit
- Kyler Murray’s fantasy prospects
- David Johnson’s fantasy prospects
- Changes to the offensive line
- Target share distribution
Kingsbury’s Offensive System
Jason Wood: Do you think Kliff Kingsbury's system translates into the NFL? Why is this different than when teams tried to bring collegiate spread offenses to the league in the past, most notably Chip Kelly's system or the league's infatuation with the Run 'n' Shoot a few decades ago? If you're confident in the system, are you also confident in Kingsbury as the architect of that system, or does his losing record as a college head coach concern you?
Devin Knotts: I think the easy thing to do would be to look at Chip Kelly's system and compare it to Kingsbury, but they are vastly different. Kelly’s system at its heart was a run-based spread offense that utilized tempo to be successful. Kingsbury's Air Raid system is built off the ‘Four Verticals’ route concept and is augmented by a variety of hot-routes. The system’s ability to create spacing has been a nightmare for opposing defenses.
While no NFL team has fully committed to the Air Raid, components of the scheme have been gaining ground in recent years. Jared Goff, Patrick Mahomes II, Baker Mayfield, and Kyler Murray all played in the system, and we’ve seen Andy Reid, Matt Nagy, Frank Reich, and Bill Belichick (among others) integrate these concepts into their playbooks. A litany of NFL coaches have spent time with Kingsbury, Lincoln Riley, and Mike Leach to understand the concepts better. Kingsbury’s biggest unknown is whether he will be adaptable, as a 100% Air Raid system will eventually be shut down by defensive coordinators. However, if Kingsbury can remain creative and evolve his playbook, his system could be incredibly successful.
Sigmund Bloom: Kingsbury’s system will work for at least part of this year as defenses will be in catch-up mode. We saw the same thing happen with Lamar Jackson and the Ravens last year. The Cardinals have the personnel to stretch defenses both vertically and horizontally and create mismatches. Kyler Murray can help slow down the pass rush because he's dangerous outside the pocket. It’s evident the Cardinals are fully committed to the system, which fosters optimism.
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