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Cardinals’ Team PFF Rankings Through 15 Games

What the rankings on offense and defense suggest

NFL: Arizona Cardinals at Pittsburgh Steelers Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

I thought it would be interesting to take a look at where the Arizona Cardinals rank in PFF’s team categories after 14 games.

  • Record: 3-12 —- 31st
  • Points For: 275 —- 26th
  • Points Against: 403 —- 31st
  • Overall: 63.1 —- 31st
  • Offense: 63.1 —- 27th
  • Passing: 52.3 —- 31st
  • Pass Blocking: 63.9 —- 18th
  • Receiving: 63.1 —- 30th
  • Run Game: 91.9 —- 2nd
  • Run Blocking: 53.2 —- 26th
  • Defense: 51.9—- 32nd
  • Run Defense: 37.1 —- 32nd
  • Tackling: 50.6 —- 22nd
  • Pass Rush: 64.9 —- 28th
  • Pass Coverage: 56.6 —- 28th
  • Special Teams: 80.8 —- 15th

What the Offensive Grades Suggest:

  • With the Cardinals ranking #2 in the run game, yet 26th in run blocking, this suggests two things: (1) the Cardinals’ RBs are doing a great job breaking tackles; (2) the Cardinals’ QBs are doing a commendable job running and scrambling.
  • Note: there have been times when the Cardinals’ run blocking has been superb, particularly inside the 5-yard line. And there have been times obviously when the run blocking has been very inconsistent. Such can be the case for wide zone blocking schemes —- in that so much depends on the linemen being able to make and finish blocks while on the move. That said, the wide zone blocking schemes have been successful in giving the Cardinals’ RBs creases to bang through.
  • The fact that the Cardinals’ pass blocking is 18th and yet the passing game is 31st suggests that the Cardinals have not been getting consistent passing results from their QBs —- and that this offense is not very passer friendly.
  • The question that I and others keep pondering is —- what kind of QB would be best suited to succeed in Drew Petzing’s run heavy offense? The running and scrambling part with Dobbs and Murray has been a plus. But both Dobbs and Murray have had difficulties getting into a passing rhythm. let alone sustaining a rhythm. Both, Dobbs and Murray have had a tendency to throw an inordinate number of high passes, some of which have had no chance for the receivers to make a play on. In my opinion, if QBs in this Stefanski-style of offense don’t float and maneuver around the pocket to create clear passing lanes, then the QBs and the offense will continue to sputter. What’s a great concern is that through 15 games, it appears that the QBs have not been coached or prepared to maneuver the pocket. Some QBs like Tom Brady, Patrick Mahomes and Brock Purdy have a 6th sense when it comes to floating away from pressure. And because neither Dobbs nor Murray have not shown an instinct or penchant for floating, how many passes have we seen this year that have been thrown flat-footed or from the back foot? Can Kyler learn to float? He’s 5 years into his pro career and he has not shown a desire or the knack for it. This is why it is reasonable to question just how effective Kyler can be in Petzing’s offense.
  • Someone on Twitter asked me which QB in this year’s draft would fit Petzing’s system the best and the one who jumps out at me is Jayden Daniels, who is a rare 6’4” dual-threat QB with a dynamic arm. I think Drake Maye and Michael Penix also fit the mold, especially for the intermediate and deep passes that Cardinals’ QBs have not been able to connect on thus far.

What the Defensive Grades Suggest:

  • The top 5 run defense grades for the Cardinals’ personnel are: 1- OLB Zaven Collins (78.1), 2- DT Roy Lopez (68.0); 3 - S Budda Baker (67.5); 4 - DT Dante Stills (63.2); 5 —- ILB Krys Barnes (62.6) —- they are the only players with above average grades. The fact that 2 of the top 5 grades are from DTs suggests that the defensive line has not been a total liability in stopping the run. It points more toward the Cardinals’ ILBers. Kyzir White’s run defense grade is slightly below average at 60.3 and Josh Woods’ is the worst in the NFL at 29.0.
  • Compared to the run defense grades to the top ILBs in the NFC West, the Cardinals’ ILBers are lagging far behind: 1-SF Fred Warner (90.7); 2- SEA Bobby Wagner (90.6). 3 - LAR Ernest Jones (87.4).
  • What may surprise you is that Zaven Collins, Roy Lopez and Dante Stills have higher run defense grades than the Seahawks’ top three OLB Boye Mafe (58.6), DT Leonard Williams (64.9) and DT Dre’Mont Jones (62.2), yet Bobby Wagner makes his reads and gets to his gap consistently on time. Plus, his 90.9 tackling grade tell you how prolific he is at finishing.
  • Here’s another shocker —- Collins, Lopez and Stills have higher run defense grades than Chase Young (64.0), Arik Armstead (59.8) and Javon Hargrave (51.0) Yet, Fred Warner is adept at making his reads and hitting his gaps. That said, without Armstead and Hargrave versus the Cardinals two weeks ago, Fred Warner’s game grades were: 85.5 overall; 59.6 run defense; 29.1 tackling and 90.1 in coverage.
  • The Cardinals’ 22nd rank in tackling is thanks for the most part in having one of the most prolific tackling tandems at safety in the NFL in Budda Baker (85.7 tackling) and Jalen Thompson (73.8 tackling). And Starling Thomas V has emerged as the Cardinals’ best tackler at CB as his tackling grade rose to 74.2 this week.
  • The Cardinals’ pass coverage and run defense in their 5 NFC West games have been alarmingly inept:

1 —- SF 35-16 —- Purdy Passer Rating: 134.6 —- McCaffrey Rushing average: 5.3

2 —- LAR 26-9 —- Stafford: 107.3 —- Kyren Williams: 7.9

3 —- SEA 20-10 —- Smith: 113.0 —- Walker: 4.0

4 —- LAR 37-14 —- Stafford 121.1 —- Williams: 8.9

5 —- SF 45-29 —- Purdy: 135.3 —- McCaffrey: 6.4

Notice how the Cardinals’ defense the second time around versus the 49ers and Rams was even worse. Not a promising sign from the Cardinals HC and DC.

0-5

163 - 78

32.6 - 15.6

Twitter Polls:

It’s been very difficult to watch the Cardinals’ defense get overwhelmed at the inside linebacker positions with Zaven Collins playing OLB. It looks by the results of this poll that the majority of fans concur.

I was curious to see the results of this poll because of my belief that Kyler Murray is not a natural fit in a Stefanski-style offense. Look at how Baker Mayfield has played more productively in the Bucs’ WR friendly offenses. He currently is 9th in the NFL in passer ratings:

Stats: 3,598 yards passing, 26 TDs/8 INTs. Passer Rating: 96.2

The results of this poll indicate to me that half of the fans are content seeing Kyler in Petzing’s offense and half the fans have concerns.

If the Cardinals are intent on keeping Kyler Murray, then they owe it to him to put him in a far more wide-open WR-friendly passing offense like the ones he had at Allen H.S., Oklahoma and with the Cardinals his first three seasons.

One suggestion would be to hire Dana Holgerson as OC. He is one of the longest-standing Air Raid gurus in the country. Not only could he be the OC to get Kyler Murray back up and passing for big numbers again, Holgerson was Clayton Tune’s and Tank Dell’s head coach at Houston.

If Monti Ossenfort and Jonathan Gannon are fully committed to Drew Petzing’s offense, then they should do Kyler the favor of trading him and should draft the QB in the 2024 class whom they believe is the best, most natural fit.

It’s a romantic idea to think that Kyler Murray is going to love and flourish playing in a Stefanski-style offense, but what do you think Baker Mayfield would say to Kyler about the realities of that? What would Odell Beckham Jr. say to Kyler about the realities of that?

The thing about a Stefanski-style offense is that it means for slower-paced, closer games and you’d better have the kind of defense the Browns have to rely on when games are decided in the 4th quarter. After 15 games, the Cardinals under Jonathan Gannon and Nick Rallis have the 31st ranked defense in points allowed and per PFF’s defensive metrics the Cardinals defense is 32nd (last) in the NFL —- as in, they do not do anything on defense that could be considered even close to average.

ROTB Polls:

Poll

Do you think the Cardinals’ current styles of offense and defense will make them competitive in the NFC West anytime soon?

This poll is closed

  • 12%
    Yes
    (14 votes)
  • 40%
    Too soon to tell
    (45 votes)
  • 46%
    No
    (52 votes)
  • 0%
    Other
    (0 votes)
111 votes total Vote Now

Poll

Do you think Jonathan Gannon and his young staff are way over their heads in the NFC West?

This poll is closed

  • 30%
    Yes
    (35 votes)
  • 48%
    Too soon to tell
    (55 votes)
  • 20%
    No
    (23 votes)
  • 0%
    Other
    (0 votes)
113 votes total Vote Now

What do you think of the Cardinals’ team PFF rankings?

How did you vote on the poll questions and why?