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Arizona Cardinals Playcalling Trends

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PFF recently wrote an article breaking down playcalling trends, based on head coaches and offensive coordinators and including any postseason games the teams may have played. As you can imagine, the Arizona Cardinals ranked highly (and lowly) in some categories. The numbers are broken down based on Ken Whisenhunt (54 games between 2008 with Todd Haley and 2009-2010 with Mike Miller as passing game coordinator and Russ Grimm as running game coordinator)  and 34 games of the Miller/Grimm combination after Haley left to take over the head coaching job in Kansas City in 2009-10. 

The numbers do not include playcalling statistics from the Cardinals 2007 season or from his days as offensive coordinator for the Pittsburgh Steelers

As we all likely know, the Cardinals have been a pass-heavy offense. How pass-heavy? From 2008-2010 under Ken Whisenhunt, they have the third highest rate of passing plays at 65.0 percent. Take 2008 out of the question and look at the Miller/Grimm seasons and they have the second highest rate at 65.4 percent. 

The one thing that I find most interesting is that 2008 (the Super Bowl run) brings the passing rate down. If anyone had asked me how that rate would look including this past season, I would have said it would have been lower. However, apparently when the Hall Of Fame quarterback has retired, it means continue throwing the ball at the same clip. 2010 alone was 65.3 percent passing.

The most interesting fact I saw was that the 2009-10 seasons had the Cardinals calling the tenth least amount of offensive plays per game at 59.4. In what is a surprise to me is that the Cardinals had more offensive plays per game in 2010 than in 2009. In 2009 it was58.4 plays per game. In 2010, it was 61.4 plays per game. The only way to explain that I believe would be to say that in 2009 there were much more big plays, leading to less plays to get down the field.

Looking at the passing target numbers, the Cardinals focused on throwing to their wide receivers. Between 2008-2010, Arizona has the second highest rate of WR targets at 74.2 percent. They have third highest rate if you take 2008 out of the equation. For 2009-2010, the rate is 73.8 percent. Naturally, with the receiving corp that has been here, that would make sense. 

The result of this affects how many times the tight ends are targeted. IN what is a natural correlation, from 2008-2010 they have the second lowest rate of TE targets at 6.7 percent. From 2009-2010, they have the third lowest rate at 7.1 percent. Of course, this statistic is skewed by the fact that the Cardinals have had great receivers and tight ends that scare nobody offensively. 

One would have to imagine that with Robert Housler coming on board that the the tight end position will be targeted more in 2011. 

What can we expect in 2011? I think we all want to see a more dedicated and potent rushing attack. With Beanie Wells, Ryan Williams and likely Tim Hightower, there should be lots of carries to do the job. Also, even with the addition of a decent or even solid quarterback, it is not going to be someone at the level of Kurt Warner when he was donning Cardinals red, so even if the upgrade is great, I hope that the team will still throw the ball less. 

What are your impressions of this information. Does any of it surprise you? Frustrate you? Anything? Fire away with your comments.