When the goin' got tough, the Cardinals decided to pass a whole lot more than they should have.
Ever since Kurt Warner retired, Cardinals fans have been appalled at how much the team has placed on their quarterbacks' shoulders. We have always complained that the Cards pass the ball around too much, despite having receivers like Larry Fitzgerald to throw to. It just seemed that Ken Whisenhunt never understood that he didn't have an elite quarterback anymore, so throwing that much was a poor idea.
And just to lay it on even more, Pro Football Focus claims that the Cardinals passed more than any other team when they were trailing in a game last season. The Cards trailed their opponent 57% of the time, good for the tenth most amount of time in the league.
When they were behind, they made their quarterback drop back 75% of the time, which was the most of any team when they are trailing their opponent. That number was actually tied with the Atlanta Falcons, who happen to have a very good quarterback in Matt Ryan and a much more efficient passing attack.
It seems Whisenhunt and former offensive coordinator Mike Miller didn't trust his defense much either, as he decided that passing when the game was tied (23% of the time) was the best idea. That is why the Cards were 8th in the league in drop back percentage (61%) when the game was all knotted up.
While I expect the new offense under head coach Bruce Arians to tilt more towards the pass as well, I think he will cater to his quarterbacks' skill levels more than Whisenhunt did. He realizes that, with the way the offensive line is currently constructed, dropping back that many times may not be the best of ideas.
Then again, Andrew Luck was sacked more than any other QB in the league last season with Arians as his offensive coordinator. The Colts were 10th overall in drop back percentage, but that was with a much better quarterback than anyone the Cards had.
So maybe we are in for more of the same. Or maybe not. I guess it really depends on how Arians fixes the offensive line and the quarterback positions this offseason.
Hopefully the Cardinals think about running the ball a bit more this season -- especially when they are tied or ahead.