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The Athletic: 2020 Cardinals Offense #7

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NFL: DEC 15 Browns at Cardinals Photo by Kevin Abele/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Today’s pre-season rankings of NFL offenses published by The Athletic, written by Sheil Kapadia, former beat writer for the Eagles (The Athletic) and Seahawks (ESPN), has the Arizona Cardinals’ K-Raid sitting pretty at #7.

Apparently The Athletic is manifesting a dramatically different view of Kliff Kingsbury, Kyler Murray and the Cardinals’ offense than Pro Football Focus.

Here is Sheil Kapadia’s rationale:

“You didn’t think we were just going to go chalk, did you? This ranking will surprise some, but it shouldn’t. Last year, Kliff Kingsbury was getting used to life in the NFL, Kyler Murray was a rookie, Kenyan Drake played only half the season, and the Cardinals had a below-average group of receivers. Yet they still finished 13th in efficiency. Year two with Kingsbury and Murray brings the addition of a true number one wide receiver in DeAndre Hopkins. In some ways, the Cardinals are built like a modern NBA offense. Instead of layups and three-pointers, it’s wide receiver screens combined with an efficient run game and downfield bombs. Murray threw perhaps the most aesthetically-pleasing deep ball in the league last year, and Kingsbury moved from 10 personnel (one RB, no TEs, four WRs) to more 11 (one RB, one TE, three WRs) and 12 (one RB, two TEs, two WRs) personnel in the second half of the season. It’s reasonable to think that Kingsbury and Murray will continue to improve, and Hopkins will make everyone around him better. This group is poised for a big leap in 2020.”

Thank you, sir. I, and many of my ROTB brothers and sisters, respectfully agree.

if the truth be told—-I think many of us have a hunch the Cardinals, if healthy, are going to be in the top 5 on offense this year.

Here are The Athletic’s complete 2020 offensive efficiency rankings—-with last year’s offense efficiency rankings in parentheses:

  1. KC (3)
  2. BAL (1)
  3. NO (4)
  4. DAL (2)
  5. SEA (5)
  6. SF (7)
  7. ARI (13)
  8. IND (19)
  9. TEN (6)
  10. LV (9)
  11. TB (22)
  12. PHI (14)
  13. GB (8)
  14. ATL (15)
  15. PIT (32)
  16. DET (18)
  17. BUF (21)
  18. CLE (20)
  19. LAR (17)
  20. HOU (16)
  21. MIN (10)
  22. NYG (23)
  23. NE (11)
  24. CHI (25)
  25. CAR (21)
  26. CIN (29)
  27. DEN (26)
  28. LAC (12)
  29. JAX (24)
  30. NYG (31)
  31. MIA (27)
  32. WAS (30)

Bravo, my friends—-it’s amazing how some perceptions of the Cardinals’ offense have changed in one year—-from the Cardinals’ absolute worst NFL offense in 2018—-to earning an efficiency ranking of #13 with a rookie HC/OC in Kliff Kingsbury and a rookie QB in Kyler Murray on the field in 2019—-to being projected as a top 7 offense by The Athletic in 2020.

Do you agree with Sheil Kapadia?

With so many variables in play this year, it’s difficult to feel certain about anything. And, hey, we are Cardinals’ fans—-we tend to temper any and all momentary bursts of optimism.

That said, I believe that Sheil Kapadia is correct and if the Cardinals can stay healthy and keep the majority of their continuity, the offense is going to be in the top 7.