The Arizona Cardinals made considerable strides on offense last season.
They scored 129 more points in 2013 than they did in 2012, while scoring 16 more touchdowns, gaining 83 more first downs, tallying 13 more passing touchdowns and 1,333 more yards.
Ultimately, the Cardinals finished 12th in the NFL in total offense and 16th in points per game. While not great, they were better than before and appear primed to take another step forward given the addition of talent along with comfort in Bruce Arians’ system.
Yet, according to Pro Football Focus’ Gordon McGuinness, in an ESPN Insider piece, Arizona actually has the 29th-best offense in the league.
That’s out of 32 teams, by the way, with the Cards finishing ahead of only the Buffalo Bills, New York Jets and Jacksonville Jaguars.
McGuinness writes that the Cardinals are ranked 22nd in QBs, 24th in running backs, 24th in receivers and 30th in offensive line. The way they see it, Arizona is “below average” at every position except for offensive line, where they are “poor.”
On the surface the Arizona Cardinals have some talented pieces in place, most notably at wide receiver with Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd. The offensive line, however, allowed the most pressure on a per-snap basis a year ago, with 242 total pressures from 620 passing plays.
The good news is that adding Jared Veldheer helps, as will Bobby Massie’s expected return to the starting lineup at right tackle, but will it make enough of a difference? At running back it’s hard not to be impressed by Andre Ellington, who forced 31 missed tackles from just 157 touches on offense, but it’s fair to question whether he can be an every-down back or if he’s better suited for a lower-volume, higher-impact role in which he won’t be worn down by a full workload.
The concerns are somewhat valid, because until the Cardinals’ revamped offensive line proves it is better, there will be questions about if, in fact, it is.
But there is little denying the amount of talent the team has at the skill positions — especially at wide receiver with Fitzgerald, Floyd, John Brown and Ted Ginn, Jr., among others — and Ellington may very well prove to be a capable lead back.
Things could always go south for the team and it is possible this projection will prove to be true. But on the surface, at least, it appears the Cardinals’ offense may be a tad bit underrated.