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Retooling the Cardinals’ Offense

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How to fix the Cardinals offense for new OC Mike McCoy.

NFL: New York Giants at Arizona Cardinals Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

This year’s Super Bowl gave us a good glimpse as to the style of offense that Mike McCoy prefers.

McCoy is an advocate of the Patriots’ style of offense which is predicated on a balance running game with a passing game that attacks the seams with the TEs, the middle with the slot WRs and the perimeter with the RBs out of the backfield on screens, flares and wheel routes.

The Eagles do very much the same, only they have added a package of RPO plays in order to put pressure on the linebackers, defensive ends and cornerbacks.

At first glance---what the Cardinals need is a QB, a pass-catching TE, a bona fide slot WR (other than Fitz), and an athletic trio of OL (G-C-G) in the middle. Plus, both teams at times employ a FB.

QB:

We have already discussed this all-important decision at length. I think that Nick Foles would be an ideal match for Mike McCoy’s offense. if Foles cannot be had via a trade, then the next best options, imo, would be Tyrod Taylor or Case Keenum. Sam Bradford could be a fit, but his knee issues are a concern. The Cardinals’ medical staff would have to give Steve Keim the nod on Bradford. Josh McCown could be a good mentor and bridge QB, if necessary.

In the draft, the best fits, imo, are Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, Lamar Jackson, Baker Mayfield, Mason Rudolph and Luke Falk.

RB:

David Johnson and T.J. Logan are immediate fits. Elijaah Penny could serve as a utility RB/FB.

The reservation about Kerwynn Williams is his pass receiving skill. Three affordable UFAs who could be dynamic in the offense are Rex Burkhead (Pats), Jerick McKinnon (Vikings) and Jamal Charles (Broncos).

In the draft, Soni Michel (Georgia) is the Alvin Kamara of this year’s class, but he is going to be a top 40 pick. Three RBs to like in Round 3 are: Rashaad Penny (SD St.), Akrum Wadley (Iowa) and Royce Freeman (Oregon).

TE:

Already paying TE Jermaine Gresham over $7M a year, limits what the Cardinals can realistically spend in free agency, particularly in light of other needs. The UFA TE who would be a great fit is Trey Burton (Eagles), but he is likely to warrant $5-6M+ a year. Sportrac currently rates his market value at $7M per.

The hope is that Ricky Seals-Jones will build on his rookie performance and be a go-to receiver. But the Cardinals need to add another bona fide TE either through FA and/or the draft. The draft is deep in TEs this year with prospects Mark Andrews (Oklahoma), Hayden Hurst (South Carolina), Mike Gesicki (Penn St.), Dallas Goedert (S. Dak. St.), Dalton Schultz (Stanford) and Adam Breneman (Massachusetts).

Steve Keim could pull a rabbit out of his hat with HB/TE/FB Jaylen Samuels of his alma mater NC State.

Slot WR:

For years the Cardinals have been lacking at this position as the more diminutive WRs they drafted like John Brown and J.J. Nelson could not hold up physically inside. Larry Fitzgerald has been dynamic in this role, although he has been used the past few years more like a TE.

This a good year to draft a slot WR in the first 3-4 rounds. The ones that stand out are: Calvin Ridley (Alabama), Christian Kirk (Texas A&M), Anthony Miller (Memphis), D.J. Moore (Maryland), Keke Coutee (Texas Tech) and Dante Pettis (Washington). Antonio Callaway of Florida a potential stud, but has off the field issues.

C:

When you look at the success of the Eagles’ and Patriots’ offensive lines---it all starts at center with Jason Kelce (6-3, 295) and David Andrews (6-3, 295). Both Kelce and Andrews are athletic, smart and tenacious.

While A.Q. Shipley is a terrific, smart high-effort player, he lacks the requisite athleticism to be a standout in the middle. Evan Boehm is a strong anchor, but he has heavy feet. The wild card whom Steve Keim is going to have to pitch to Steve Wilks and Mike McCoy is Daniel Munyer, the most athletic of the three, but slightly undersized at 6-1, 305.

The best centers in the UFA market are Ryan Jensen (6-4, 310, Ravens) and Travis Swanson (Lions).

In the draft, Billy Price (Ohio St.) is a flat-out stud and worthy of a 1st round selection, imo. Chances are the Cardinals are not going to use their 1st round pick on a center, but others of note in this draft are Mason Cole (Michigan), Frank Ragnow (Arkansas), Will Clapp (LSU), Austin Corbett (Nevada), James Daniels (Iowa) and Bradley Bozeman (Alabama).

G:

A decision has to made about incumbent, oft-injured LG Mike iupati who carries a heft cap hit into this season. Steve Wilks and OLC Ray Brown have made it clear that they want to run the ball and a healthy Iupati would fit the bill, if he is willing to take a pay cut.

However, the prize UFA LG this year is Andrew Norwell, whom Wilks and Brown coached in Carolina. While he is going to command a salary close to $11-12M a year, he could be well worth the investment and the clear signal that turning the OL around is of top priority. Other notable UFA Gs are Justin Pugh (Giants), Jack Mewhort (Colts) and Josh Kline (Titans). 32 year old Matt Slausen (Chargers) is a C/G option coming off a torn bicep, but could well be a favorite of Mike McCoy’s.

At RG, re-signing Alex Boone on a 1 or 2 year deal may make sense. Boone played hard for the Cardinals last year and seems to like playing in Arizona.

In the draft, if G/C Isaiah Wynn (Georgia) is available in Round 2, he could be a coup and start immediately at center or RG. Other top guard prospects are: Will Hernandez (UTEP), Taylor Hearn (Clemson), Skyler Phillips (Idaho), Sean Welsh (Iowa) and Braden Smith (Auburn).

T:

It appears that the Cardinals are in pretty good shape at tackle. D.J. Humphries returns to the lineup at LT and hopes to take his game to a higher level. At RT, Jared Veldheer rallied up big-time last season and would be worth keeping for the final year of his contract, perhaps if he is willing to take a small pay cut. Behind Humphries and Veldheer there is solid depth in John Wetzel and Will Holden.