2018 Arizona Cardinals Offensive Efficiency: Can Kyler Murray Dig the Cardinals Out Of The Basement?
The Arizona Cardinals offensive line in 2018 struggled giving up 52 sacks (26th). The offensive line is also partly responsible for the 18 INT’s (27th) and a total of 141 third downs not converted. We compiled all of this into one number to give us an offensive efficiency measure originally coined by Football Outsiders as Havoc Rate. We added a twist to this measure by adding the third downs not converted to the mix because not converting a third down is comparable to a turnover in most cases. The offensive line is not to blame for all of the woes, play calling, Josh Rosen holding onto the ball too long and taking a sack are also to blame for the Cardinals poor offensive efficiency in 2018.
In 2019 the Cardinals debut a new Head Coach (Kliff Kingsbury) who was fired from his Head Coaching job at Texas Tech before becoming USC’s offensive coordinator for ten minutes and then hired by the Cardinals because they likely whiffed on Lincoln Riley (this is an assumption not based on fact). Kingsbury had a losing record (35-40) at Texas Tech but is considered to be an air raid offensive guru who was coached and mentored by Mike Leach.
When the Cardinals drafted Kyler Murray the marriage of air raid guru coach (Kliff Kingsbury), and Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray who played in an air raid offense at Oklahoma sounded heavenly. Those who were skeptical of Kingsbury were supposed to believe now that this can work. The Cardinals went on to draft more skill positional players like WR Hakeem Butler, KeeSean Johnson, and Andy Isabella. They already have the aging Larry Fitzgerald and the rising star Christian Kirk. They did all of this without addressing their offensive line until the 6th and 7th round.
The Cardinals total starting offensive line spend in 2018 by the end of the year was under 2 million and last in the league. The total starter spending in 2019 is more than 26 million and Cardinals are still 19th in the league. The offensive line starters in 2019 are projected to be LT DJ Humphries (PFF Pos. Rk 40th), LG Justin Pugh (PFF Pos. Rk 64), C Mason Cole (PFF Pos. Rk 34), RG JR Sweezy (PFF Pos. Rk 71), and RT Marcus Gilbert (PFF Pos. Rk 41) .
Back in July Pro Football Focus ranked the Cardinals offensive line heading into this season 30th in the NFL and this does not bode well for the Cardinals who are installing a new system. In the first preseason game, Murray was not pressured, but in game two the Raiders applied pressure moving Murray off of his spot forcing him to abort plays early.
Against the Chargers two weeks ago, Murray went six for seven passing, with 44 yds. Murray could have been a perfect 7-7 passing if Keesean Johnson did not get called for illegal touching.
Against the Raiders, Murray went 3-8 with 12 yds passing, two false start penalties, one delay of game, sacked two times and one of those sacks resulted in a safety.
Against the Chargers when Murray stayed in the pocket he was quick an decisive with his throws averaging 1.89 seconds per throw. The one play on the opening drive where Murray aborted the pocket and bought time with his legs gave him 4.33 seconds from snap to throw.
The Raiders brought five rushers on two plays, 6 on another. Three of eight plays the Raiders rushed more than 4 and two out of those three Murray had to abort the pocket.
On a third down and 16 (3:32 mark) the Raiders were able to move Murray from the pocket rushing four. The Raiders ran a stunt with their five and three-technique forcing Murray out of the pocket through the middle. The player that missed the block is Mason Cole who was in at left guard. These are the type of errors that Plagued the Cardinals in 2018, and if they are going to improve, they have to get better upfront.
If the Cardinals are going to improve their poor efficiency from 2018, they need to protect Murray and put him in situations that allow him to get rid of the football quickly. The Cardinals need to improve their discipline when it comes to penalties. Murray faced two 3rd down and longs (15, 17 yds) both of which were aided by penalties