By the numbers: Arizona Cardinals’ consistently inconsistent offense
Oct 3, 2022, 10:08 AM
The Arizona Cardinals have stumbled their way to a 2-2 start to the season, tied for second in the NFC West.
Should the Los Angeles Rams lose to the San Francisco 49ers on Monday Night Football, the Cardinals would hold a share of first place, with everyone at 2-2.
Through four weeks, being within striking distance of the top of the division should serve as a confidence boost for the Cardinals. However, it’s been a consistently inconsistent offense that’s gotten them there.
Let’s take a look at the Cardinals offense through four games by the numbers:
In the first half of games, the Cardinals offense averages four points per game. As non-shocking as it seems, they’re the least efficient offense in the NFL by expected points added (EPA) per play in the first half.
Offensive efficiency in the 1st half of games (x-axis), vs 2nd half of games (y-axis).
The Cardinals have the worst 1st half offense in the NFL, but the second-best 2nd half offense. The Titans have the best 1st half offense (partly scripted plays) and worst 2nd half offense. pic.twitter.com/tOWYOEMYEH
— Arjun Menon (@arjunmenon100) October 3, 2022
Through four games, they’re getting outscored 66-16. However, it’s 72-37 in favor of Arizona in the second half.
Moving forward, the Cardinals need to work on getting off to better starts. They don’t have to be the second-most efficient first half team, as they are in the second. However, they shouldn’t have to be one of the best offenses in football in the second half of games just to fend off 1-3 teams.
Through eight first-quarter drives, the Cardinals have just 82 yards, a whopping 10.25 yards per drive. After taking out their best and worst drive of the first quarter, they net just 55 yards in six drives, 9.17 yards per drive.
The eight drives yielded seven punts and a turnover on downs.
The first couple offensive drives of a game are generally scripted plays based on down and distance. Something in the Cardinals’ script needs to change because they can’t afford to be so lackluster in the first quarter.
In the second half of games this season, Kyler Murray has a 99.2 passer rating. Compared to his 65.7 rating in the first half, the difference is night and day.
Murray is completing 67.3% of his passes for 591 yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions in the second half and overtime. In the first half, he has two interceptions without a single touchdown.
While his yards per attempt as a runner is only 0.2 higher in the second half, he has two rushing touchdowns compared to zero in the first half.
It seems the more the ball is in Murray’s hands, the better the offense.