The Cardinals’ offense was one of the worst units in the red zone for the majority of the season.
They have players with great speed such as Damiere Byrd, Chase Edmonds, Kenyan Drake, Christian Kirk, and Andy Isabella that can take it to the house at any moment for a touchdown.
Unfortunately for Kyler Murray, he did not have a big athletic target to throw to in the end zone. Maxx Williams is primarily a blocker and Larry Fitzgerald is normally double covered during those situations.
Now, it seems the Cardinals may have found the red zone threat they have been searching for. In comes Dan Arnold, a 6-foot-6 220-pound tight end that was claimed by the Cardinals off waivers a couple weeks ago after he was released by the Saints.
On Sunday, he made a spectacular leaping grab at the corner of the end zone for a six-yard touchdown against the Browns that got the attention of many people.
Arnold was formerly an undrafted free agent out of the University of Wisconsin-Platteville. In 2016, he posted impressive statistics at the college level with 65 catches, 1,176 receiving yards, and 16 touchdowns. His athleticism was at full display on the field but also at his Pro Day workout. He ran a 4.63 40-yard dash and had a 39.5’’ vertical jump.
He could be the player the Cardinals have always needed in their offense. Kyler Murray never had a player of Arnold’s size that he could just heave it up to.
The 24-year-old tight end has certainly gotten the attention of head coach Kliff Kingsbury.
“He was going up and Moss-ing people. Everybody was oohing and aahing and we didn’t know his name,” Kingsbury said of Arnold’s performance during practices in Monday’s press conference.
Though there is still a learning curve for Arnold, he is getting up to speed of the playbook with the help of his coaches.
“[Tight ends coach Steve Heiden] got him caught up,” Kingsbury said. “They’ve been working around the clock to make him comfortable, He’s a threat in the passing game, there’s no doubt, and went up and made a great play. We had some other things that I didn’t get to in the gameplan but hopefully he can continue to feel comfortable there and we can use him more.”
The funny thing is the Cardinals do not normally use their tight ends, with Arnold, Williams, Charles Clay, and Darrell Daniels combining for 31 catches, 374 yards, and three touchdowns so far. But, the addition of Dan Arnold might change the tight end usage of this team next year.
Arnold might even see an expanded role as soon as this upcoming weekend in a divisional matchup against the Seahawks.
There are two more games remaining in the Cardinals’ 2019 season as well as a roster evaluation soon after. The fact that Arnold has impressed his coaches in such a short time bodes well for his future here in Arizona, as he is under contract with the team through the 2020 season.