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Kliff Kingsbury’s offense head and shoulders above 2018 Cardinals

Head coach Kliff Kingsbury of the Arizona Cardinals looks at his play sheet in front of quarterback Kyler Murray #1 before action against the Seattle Seahawks at State Farm Stadium on September 29, 2019 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)

Six weeks into the 2019-20 season there’s a noticeable change on the Arizona Cardinals’ sideline.

The team still rocks the same threads, but the new-look team is not what it once was from just a year prior.

Granted, there’s new names on the field and on the coaching staff, but it’s the production of the offense that’s causing a lot of the separation.

In basically every statistical category, the 2019 Cardinals have an absurd upperhand on last season.

Under the direction of first-year head coach Kliff Kingsbury, the Cardinals offense has made its way out of the dungeon and started to find its rhythm.

This season, Arizona has seen its numbers move up the NFL ranks. Entering Week 7, the Cardinals are ninth in yards per game (376.8) and rushing yards (736), 10th in passing yards (1,525) and 11th in passing yards per game (254.2).

To recap, Arizona floundered in 2018. In the team’s first six games, the Cardinals were the bottom of the barrel among the NFL, ranking last in points (82) and first downs (76), while registering 10 turnovers on their way to a 1-5 record. All told, the Cardinals accumulated 938 yards through the air and 383 on the ground.

A quarterback change didn’t move the needle much either.

Through his first four games (three starts), former Cardinals quarterback Josh Rosen was thrown into the fire after Sam Bradford was benched. The then-rookie completed 50 of his 90 throws for 626 yards, two touchdowns and two of the team’s six interceptions up to that point.

At QB this season, rookie Kyler Murray has added another dimension to the team’s plan of attack.

Even with an elevated number of sacks, up to 21 from 13 in 2018, Murray has impressed under center. The rookie has thrown for 1,664 yards and seven touchdowns on 153 of 238 passing attempts. He’s also limited the number of giveaways, tossing four picks in 2019 compared to Rosen and Bradford’s combined seven.

Murray’s doing more than just slinging the rock, too. The versatile QB has found success on the ground, rushing for 238 yards and two scores on 39 carries. His yardage sits behind only David Johnson, while he’s tied with the RB in the touchdown department. The added dimension has only boosted the team’s play, keeping defenses honest and providing the Cardinals with another threat in all facets of the offense.

Speaking of Johnson, the starting running back has seen an uptick in his performance in 2019.

While he’s posted fewer rushing touchdowns this season, down from five to two, he’s still done more with less on the ground, recording 298 yards on 76 carries. In 2018, Johnson needed 91 touches to reach the 296-yard mark.

In the passing game, Johnson’s abilities are being fully utilized, something that wasn’t done last season. With the style of offense the Cardinals boast, Johnson has made a big impact as the team’s No. 2 pass catcher, reeling in 30 receptions for 315 yards and three touchdowns. He leads all Arizona receivers in touchdowns, and sits behind Larry Fitzgerald in yards (427) and receptions (35).

So while the Cardinals may experience growing pains as they learn to fully command the offense, don’t forget to take into account last year and the jump already taken.

Rome wasn’t built in a day, neither were the New England Patriots or any other contender for that matter.

But the early returns do show something that was missing in the Valley just a year prior: hope.

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