With the Cardinals having made the deal to get “their” guy and bring Kevin Kolb to the Cardinals at the price of Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and a 2nd round draft choice in the 2012 draft and handing his a 5 year $63M extension with $21M of that in guarantees, it is clear that as Kevin Kolb goes over the next few seasons so will the Arizona Cardinals.
The question now becomes how to the Cardinals ensure that they put their new quarterback in the positions to allow him to best succeed?
If the Cardinals want to get the best they can out of Kevin Kolb it is going to mean a change from their offensive philosophy of the past few seasons, and not just a subtle change, but a complete overhaul. The Cardinals since 2007 have been a very pass heavy team, and most of those throws have been from the shotgun. The Cardinals have loved throwing four and five wide receiver sets out onto the field, spreading it out and looking to find space and they have shown a resistance to consistently running the football.
The first major change the Cardinals will need to make is in their formations. In 2010 nearly 65% of the Cardinals passing plays were from the Shotgun. Kevin Kolb from the Shotgun in the 2010 season posted a 65.2 Quarterback Rating and threw 3 TD’s to 5 INT’s, compounded by YPA of just 5.23. Compare that to Kolb in 2010 when he took snaps under center, a Quarterback Rating of 94.64, 4 TD’s to 2 INT’s, and a YPA of 8.22. If Arizona wants to see the best of Kevin Kolb they are going to need to move from a shotgun based passing attack to one that operates more and more from under center.
The second major change the Cardinals will need to make is also a part of their formations, this time it will be the number of receivers they put onto the football field. In 2010 the Cardinals lined up with 4 or 5 receivers on the field for a larger percentage of their offensive snaps than any other team in the NFL. They had at least three on the field for 60% of their offensive snaps. This will need to be completely reversed if the Cardinals want to see the best of Kevin Kolb. When Kolb was on the field with 2 receivers he posted a Quarterback Rating of 101, he completed 65% of his passes for a YPA of 8.73 and had 4 TD’s to 2 INT’s, when he was out there with three or more wide receivers Kolb posted a Quarterback Rating of 63.75, completed just 59% of his passes for a YPA of 5.13 and 3 TD’s to 5 INT’s. To get the best out of Kolb you are going to need to line up with just two receivers a majority of the time and hope to get some good production from your tight ends and backs, both areas Kolb loves to throw the football.
The third major change the Cardinals will need to make is committing to the running game, and committing the running the football at least 25 times a game. In 5 starts over the past two seasons (Excluding the Dallas game vs backups and the Packers game when he attempted just 10 passes before leaving injured.) when the Eagles had 25 or more rushing attempts Kolb has posted a Quarterback rating of 119.37, he has completed 72.34 percent of his passes at 9.63 YPA and thrown 6 TD’s to 1 INT. In games the Eagles have run the football less than 25 times in a game Kolb has a Quarterback Rating of 65.30 completed 57.58 percent of his passes at 6.28 YPA and thrown 3 TD’s to 5 INT’s. To put Kolb in the best position to succeed the Cardinals need to finally commit to running the football, and running the football on a consistent basis upwards of 400 times a season.
An overview, you want to get the best out of Kolb, you line up with Kolb under center, two WR’s, two TE’s and a lone setback or something similar the uses two receivers a no more than three and always keeps a tight end on the field. You commit to running the football, really running the football; regardless of the success you are having keep pounding the ball on the ground.
Is it possible for the Cardinals to make such a sweeping change in their offensive philosophy over the course of this short offseason? It is certainly in their best interests to try, and judging by some of the moves this offseason it certainly seems as if they have been geared to a switch up in how the Cardinals play the game on offense.