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New 11 Personnel Twist for Cardinals in 2022?

NFL: Arizona Cardinals OTA Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Background: May 23, 2022; Tempe, AZ, USA; Arizona Cardinals tight end Trey McBride (85) catches a pass during OTA workouts at the teams training facility. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas

While Kyle Ledbetter and I were taping this week’s Red Rain podcast with special guest Brett Kollmann, a couple of hour earlier, Brett had posted his new “Justin Jefferson is right about Cooper Kupp” video.

Over the next couple of hours, his video accumulated 27,500 views. And Brett hilariously credits the “laser eyes” he put on Jefferson in the video’s graphic as the major reason why!

Today the video has amassed 53,000 viewers. if you are not one of those viewers, click the video above and feast your ears and eyes on this outstanding analysis of Cooper Kupp’s special role in the Rams’ 11 personnel offense.

11 Personnel: 1 RB, 1 TE, 3 WRs

As Brett points outs from the get-go, Sean McVay uses a standard TE to one side and then employs Cooper Kupp as a “flex-type” WR/TE in their running game.

Here are some of my immediate thoughts while watching the video:

  • It is absolutely amazing how Cooper Kupp withstood the kind of physical pounding he delivered and absorbed throughout the Rams’ 21 game Super Bowl winning season —- and equally amazing that Kupp looked about as sturdy and fresh as ever in the playoffs when he provided his late game heroics versus the Bucs and Bengals.
  • The way that Sean McVay employs Kupp as a flex WR/TE in the team’s running game is akin to the way that Bruce Arians’ employed Hines Ward (Steelers), Reggie Wayne (Colts), Larry Fitzgerald (Cardinals) and Chris Godwin (Bucs).
  • On top of employing his slot WRs as blockers in the running game, look at the production that BA got from them in the passing game:
  • Hines Ward (6-0, 190, 4.55, PIT) 2009: 95 / 1,167 / 12.3 / 6 TDs / 56 1st Downs
  • Reggie Wayne (6-0, 203, 4.45, IND) 2011: 106 / 1,355 / 12.8 / 5 TDs / 73 1st Downs
  • Larry Fitzgerald (6-3, 225, 4.63, ARI) 2015: 109 / 1,215, 11.1 / 9 TDs / 65 1st Downs
  • Chris Godwin (6-1, 2019, 4,42, TB) 2021: 98 / 1,107 / 11.3 / 5 TDs / 55 1st Downs
  • Of course, Cooper Kupp’s 2021 season was epic:
  • Cooper Kupp (6-2, 208, 4.62, LAR) 2021: 145 / 1,947 / 13.4 / 16 TDs / 89 1st Downs
  • Cooper Kupp in 2021 Playoffs: 33 / 478 / 14.5 / 6 TDs / 19 1st Downs
  • Larry Fitzgerald in 2008 Playoffs: 30 / 546 / 18.7 / 7 TDs / 21 1st Downs

Imagine This:

2022 Arizona Cardinals’ 11 Personnel:

  • QB Kyler Murray
  • RB James Conner
  • TE Zach Ertz
  • WR Marquise Brown
  • WR Rondale Moore
  • Flex WR/TE Trey McBride

Could Trey McBride be the Cardinals’ version of Cooper Kupp in 11 Personnel?

  • Cooper Kupp: 6-2, 208, 4.62
  • Larry Fitzgerald: 6-3, 225, 4.63
  • Trey McBride: 6-3 1/2, 246, 4.54

Here is an excellent scouting report of Trey McBride by SB Nation’s Chris Pflum (New York Giant’s Big Blue View);

McBride has a compact, powerful frame at 6-foot 3 ½ inches, 246 pounds. His 32 ½ inch arms give him adequate length despite being slightly shorter than average, while his 10-inch hands are powerful and make him a reliable catcher of the football. McBride is a versatile player who lined up all over the Colorado State offensive formation. He routinely lined up a “Y” tight end, H-Back, slot receiver, and wide receiver and executed as both a receiver and blocker from each alignment.

He is a reliable blocker who plays with good leverage, play strength, and great competitive toughness. McBride has good lateral mobility to mirror blitzers off the edge as a pass protector, as well as a solid anchor when necessary. He plays with good leverage as a run blocker, keeping low hips and pads to allow him to get underneath defenders’ pads. McBride is a very tough blocker who strains to sustain his blocks through the whistle and looks for work when he doesn’t have anyone to block.

McBride was used both as an in-line blocker, where his play strength allowed him to engage EDGE defenders and linebackers, and in space as a blocker on screen plays.

McBride was also one of Colorado State’s primary receiving weapons. He is an athletic tight end who presents a tough match-up for defensive backs and linebackers alike. McBride is a good, efficient route runner who understands his role in the offense and individual route concepts. He executes his routes with good precision, particularly on quick timing passes. He has enough athleticism to create separation with his routes and is able to find voids in coverage downfield. Likewise, he’s also able to use his routes to draw coverage away from his teammates and create opportunities for them. McBride does a good job of locating and tracking the ball downfield, and is a reliable “hands” catcher. He also shows good body control to contort and haul in tough catches or to haul in passes down the sideline while staying inbounds.

Trey McBride 2021: 90 / 1,121 / 12.5 / 1 TD Winner of the John Mackey Award (best college TE)

Video: (from JEMlive)

Check out JEMlive’s assessment of Trey McBride and the game clips he highlights of McBride catching and running with the football. Do you see traits of Cooper Kupp in Trey McBride?

I do.

Many fans and pundits were wondering why the Cardinals drafted Trey McBride when they had already re-signed Zach Ertz and Maxx Williams. When the Cardinals selected McBride, I was elated because not only is he is the best and most versatile TE in the 2021 class, at pick #55, I believe he was the best receiver available, including the WRs.

Cooper Kupp was selected at pick #69 in the 2017 NFL Draft.

Trey McBride is more scheme versatile than Ertz and Williams. If Zach Ertz were a better blocker, then he could play that Cooper Kupp 11 personnel role —- but, think of this —- the Cardinals could isolate Ertz as the TE on the opposite side, so that Trey McBride could take the Kupp role —- because Trey McBride is custom made for it —- and now you have Ertz one on one with a linebacker or safety, opening up passing lanes for himself and clearing areas of the field for McBride coming from the other side,

And heck —- just for icing on the cake —- doppelgängers?

Just saying!