(Due to the vast amount of information acquired and the fact that the charts used can only hold up to five years worth of data, this will be broken into a two part article)
When you're awake at 2:30 in the morning on a Saturday, it leads to some interesting thoughts. Typically I was sitting down and studying for my Fantasy Football draft in a month. During that time I came across some team statistics from 2005. It got me thinking, how does our team stack up to the league average the last decade?
My research initially started just examining how our pass game compared to the run game. Obviously the passing game was going to far outweigh the running statistics, but I wanted to view by just how much. As that was being conducted, I began noticing just how our numbers matched up to the league average, which helped sway my research into a completely different path.
I began to see how the team fared against league average in passing and rushing yards, passing and rushing touchdowns, fumbles, interceptions, and then ultimately our total turnovers and total touchdowns. Below is a table with the numbers for the research:
|NFL 2005||AZ 2005||NFL 2006||AZ 2006||NFL 2007||AZ 2007||NFL 2008||AZ 2008||NFL 2009||AZ 2009|
*Anything Bold and Italicized denotes meeting or exceeding the league average*
Kurt Warner was a Free Agent acquisition in the '05 offseason. He started and played in 10 games, accumulating a 2-8 record, and piling up 2713 yards with 11 scores and nine interceptions. Josh McCown pulled out a 3-3 record, to pull the team to their record of 5-11 in 2005. The two complied 20 of the the teams 21 passing touchdowns, and accounted for all but 174 yards. John Navarre rounded out the bottom.
JJ Arrington just began his short NFL career, accounting for 370 yards. Marcell Shipp lead the team with 451 rushing yards. Arrington scored the only two rushing touchdowns of the season. In all the runningbacks accounted for 885 of the 1138 yards.
The team was able to beat the league average for passing yards and passing touchdowns, thanks to the fact that they were throwing from behind in most of their games.
The team moved from the hot fields of Sun Devil stadium, to University of Phoenix stadium. The team christened their new stadium with a win over the San Francisco 49ers. 2006 also debuted the Cardinals "savior" in Matt Leinart. Leinart managed to play 12 games, starting in 11, thanks to the struggles of Kurt Warner. He suffered a sprained left shoulder in week 16, which caused him to miss the season finale.
The two quarterbacks were the only two the team fielded. Leinart accumulated 2547 yards in his 11 starts, and tossed 11 scores and 12 interceptions. He was 4-7 in those games. Warner scored six times, five picks, and tossed for 1377 yards.
The team acquired 28 year old Edgerrin James in the offseason. In his first year in the desert, James ran for 1159 yards, and scored six times. That was 1110 more yards than the next closest player in Matt Leinart. James six scores also lead the team, with Marcell Shipp being second(4).
In Dennis Green's final year in the desert, the team was only able to outperform the league average for passing yards.
The Cardinals began the Ken Whisenhunt in 2007, and the team began to change under him. Matt Leinart would start the first five games, with relief from Kurt Warner in three of the five. Leinart would, in essence, go 3-2 as a starter, with Warner finishing the season 5-6.
Warner would toss for 3417 yards and 27 scores, which opened the door for the quarterback battle in 2008.
Edgerrin James would rush for another 1000 yard season, 1222 to be exact. He scored seven times, and was once again the teams leading rusher for the Cardinals.
The team was once again better than league average in passing yards, and was better than the league in scoring touchdowns.
The most memorable season in franchise history. The first time the team made it to the Super Bowl. The Cardinals entered the preseason with a quarterback battle between Leinart and Warner. Warner pulled it out and the team shocked the world.
He would toss 4583 yards, 30 touchdowns and 17 interceptions. Warner only threw seven interceptions before the teams late season meltdown that forced Cris Collinsworth to call the Cardinals the worst playoff team ever.
The team was the number two passing offense, only behind the New Orleans Saints, in 2008. The rush offense was on the complete opposite end of the spectrum. The unit ranked 32nd in the league with 1178 yards.
Edgerrin James lead all backs with 514 yards, but newcomer Tim Hightower, scored 10 of the units 14 rushing touchdowns.
The team for the first time, was on par with the league average for rushing touchdowns, while also outperforming league average for offensive scores, and passing scores.
Fresh off their first Super Bowl appearance, the team looked sluggish coming out of the gates. They were 0-4 in preseason games, and started the regular season 1-2. This was the last time the team did not lose consecutive games as well.
The team passed for 4200 yards, Matt Leinart accounted for 435 yards, the last time he would throw a regular season pass for the Cardinals. The teams 27 scores would also be the last time the starting quarterback would throw more than 20 touchdowns until 2013 with Palmer. Warner would account for 26 of the 27, with Brian St. Pierre scoring in the season finale to the Packers.
As per the theme of this article, the Cardinals would fail to be anywhere close to the league average for rushing yards, but their 16 scores would help them be better than the league average of 13.4. The teams first round draft pick, Beanie Wells, would lead the team in rushing, gaining 793 yards and scoring seven time. Tim Hightower however would once again lead the team with eight scores.
The 27 passing touchdowns would be the last time the Cardinals were better than league average, as would the teams 43 overall touchdowns.
This concludes part one of the series. Part Two will follow shortly, which will include years 2010-2014, which will be topped off with a recap article, and point out the more interesting statistics.