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Bright spots on the Arizona Cardinals offense

Last week, we searched for bright spots on the defense. This week, we look at the offense. Who have been the bright spots on this mostly underwhelming unit?

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Syndication: Arizona Republic
Trey McBride looks like a future Pro Bowler—maybe as soon as this season.
Michael Chow/The Republic / USA TODAY NETWORK

Last week, we looked at the few bright spots on what has been a woeful Arizona Cardinals defense this season. This week, it’s the offense’s turn. While the offense hasn’t exactly been good, it’s at least been marginally better than the defense. Take a look at the ranks below:

Cardinals Offense Ranks

Stat Total Rank
Stat Total Rank
Points 18.3 26
Total YPG 306.3 24
Pass YPG 177.1 29
Rush YPG 129.2 9
Turnovers 17 11

Okay, so we’re a bottom-10 offense in both yardage and scoring, but we do two things pretty well: run the football and avoid turnovers. That’s a solid starting point in this first season under new OC Drew Petzing.

Just like last time, I took at look at the PFF grades for the offense to see who the standout players were at each position group. PFF grades are hardly an end-all, be-all metric, but they’re at least a bit more useful than surface-level stats. As we discuss the offense, remember that 60+ is average and 70+ is above average per PFF’s grading system. Let’s see who have been the best players on this mostly underwhelming offense this season.

Key: Player (Overall Offense / Passing / Rushing / Receiving / Pass Blocking / Run Blocking)

Offensive Line

  • OG Will Hernandez (68.9 / - / - / - / 71.2 / 63.8)

Like its defensive counterpart, the offensive line has been a weak area of the team this season. C Hjalte Froholdt, LT D.J. Humphries, and RT Paris Johnson Jr. have all graded in the high-50s/low-60s, and the other guards besides Hernandez haven’t even graded that highly for the most part. (Trystan Colon is right around 60 in limited snaps.) Hernandez hasn’t been amazing or anything, but he’s been the highest-graded O-lineman, holding up well in the passing game especially. The line grades quite poorly as a run-blocking unit overall, which is crazy given that we actually have a decent rushing attack. That rushing attack might take another step forward next season with improved blocking from the line.

Skill Positions

  • RB James Conner (84.0 / - / 84.3 / 65.7 / 65.6 / 70.9)

Since the line has played so poorly, the running backs have had to step up, and that’s exactly what James Conner has done. He’s easily the team’s offensive MVP, if not the team MVP so far. His overall offensive grade is the highest individual grade on the team, regardless of position. He’d likely be putting up Pro Bowl numbers if he hadn’t missed several games with an injury earlier in the season. I remember having some concerns about the extensions given to Conner and Zach Ertz by the previous regime. I was right about Ertz but am more than happy to be wrong about Conner.

  • RB Emari Demercado (75.4 / - / 89.9 / 49.6 / 73.0 / 40.7)

The Cardinals have tried out several RBs behind Conner—the since-waived Keaontay Ingram and Damian Miller, Michael Carter, Tony Jones—but it’s UDFA Demercado who has been the best, by far. His 89.9 rushing grade is the highest grade in any subcategory for any Cardinal. Granted the sample size is small (just 58 carries) but he’s shown great burst and always seems to get an extra yard or two after contact. Might we be looking at Conner’s heir apparent?

  • TE Trey McBride (77.2 / - / - / 82.2 / 54.8 / 57.9)

For the past several weeks, the Cardinals offense has basically been Conner and McBride. The second-year tight end has been the only impactful Cardinals pass catcher this season and looks like a key piece of the offense for years to come. He seemed like a luxury pick when we took him in the second round in 2022, but he will likely wind up going down as the final good draft pick of the Steve Keim era. He’s already basically put together the best TE season in Arizona Cardinals history with two games to go and has an obvious rapport with Kyler. McBride looks like he’s going to rewrite the Cardinals TE history books over the next several years (not that there’s much in those books, to be fair).

  • WR – None

As good as McBride has been recently, the Cardinals WR have been just as bad. Granted, Hollywood Brown and Michael Wilson have battled injuries, but those two along with Greg Dortch only grade in the mid-60s for the season, and Rondale Moore has been even worse in the low-50s. We just don’t seem to have anyone that does anything particularly well—Brown has flunked as a deep threat, Wilson doesn’t have enough experience to make an impact as an X receiver, and Moore is little more than a gadget player. Dortch has been okay in the slot when called upon, but that’s about it. You figure the team will move on from Brown, Moore has been a bust, and Dortch is little more than a JAG. Wilson has shown some promise, though, so there’s at least that.

Quarterback

  • QB Kyler Murray (63.1 / 58.7 / 82.7 / - / - / 60.2)

It’s tough to judge Kyler as a passer this season—he’s coming back from injury, is acclimating to a new system, has a poor O-line in front of him, and has one of the worst WR rooms in the league. Let’s bulk up the line and give him someone like Marvin Harrison Jr. to throw to before we rush to judgment. But he has laid to rest any concerns about whether his rushing/mobility would be compromised after his ACL tear. He has 187 yards rushing since coming back (5.5 YPC) and 3 TDs, in addition to the plus PFF grade. He looks pretty spry out there, so Cardinals fans can at least be encouraged about that.

Final Thoughts

As with the defense, the offense needs a lot of work—a good 3/5 of the O-line might need to be replaced, and we might need an entirely new WR room. Plus we still don’t know whether we’ll have Kyler at QB or one of the rookies. But we should be fine at RB and McBride looks like an elite talent at TE. That’s something to build on.

You know the drill: Vote for the offensive MVP in the poll below and then sound off on the offense in the comments. Have any other players caught your eye? Or has the offense as a whole just been an eyesore?

Poll

Who has been the Cardinals’ offensive MVP so far?

This poll is closed

  • 58%
    James Conner
    (96 votes)
  • 36%
    Trey McBride
    (60 votes)
  • 1%
    Kyler Murray
    (3 votes)
  • 1%
    Clayton Tune
    (3 votes)
  • 1%
    Other
    (2 votes)
164 votes total Vote Now