Certain members of the NFL community apparently feel that the Arizona Cardinals offense is best suited for the college ranks
Back in January, the Arizona Cardinals organization decided to take a chance. Fresh off of a miserable 3-13 campaign the year before, general manager Steve Keim chose to go in an entirely different direction. As it turns out, there are people around the NFL who vehemently disagree with the philosophy of the head coach who was ultimately hired by the Cards.
Kliff Kingsbury brings into the league with him the “Air Raid” scheme, a version of the “spread” offense that has found success at times in the college ranks. It’s a scoring attack that is run primarily out of the shotgun formation, and utilizes mostly four and five wide receiver sets. If this story is sounding familiar, it’s because you have heard it before.
Back in 2013, the Philadelphia Eagles hired current UCLA Bruins head coach Chip Kelly, who brought with him to the pros a version of the “spread”. Arizona’s head coach at the time, Bruce Arians, ripped Kelly’s system in a roundabout way. The Cardinals outspoken leader called the scheme a great “college” offense, and intimated that quarterbacks who played in it were more susceptible to injury.
Two years after Arians’ comments, the bottom fell out on Kelly. After compiling a 6-9 record in 2015, the Eagles brash leader was fired with a week to go in the season. Kelly spent one ugly year as the head coach of the 2016 San Francisco 49ers (2-14), before retreating back to the collegiate level.
Apparently, the prejudice against offensive gurus like Kelly and Kingsbury is alive and well in 2019. During an interview on ESPN, Oakland Raiders safety Lamarcus Joyner referred to what the Cards were running as “pretty boy” football. The overly-honest defender also stated that he wanted to “run that kind of offense out of the NFL”.
Kingsbury’s “Air Raid” attack seemed to be working just fine with rookie quarterback Kyler Murray last week in the first preseason contest. The first-overall pick of this year’s draft went 6 for 7 for 44 yards during the one series he played against the Los Angeles Chargers. Murray’s passes were crisp and on the mark, and many observers came away impressed.
Week two of the exhibition season was a completely different story, however. The Raiders, unlike the Chargers, decided to blitz the woefully undersized Murray. The youngster folded under the pressure, completing just 3 of his 8 throws for a measly 12 yards.
Both Kingsbury and Murray are attempting to drive home the point that we’ve only witnessed a watered-down version of the offense thus far this summer. They’re promising that the play-calling has been heavily on the “vanilla” side, and that the “Air Raid’s” full repertoire has yet to be revealed. Hopefully, for the sake of the Cardinals franchise, both the head coach and starting signal-caller are telling us the truth.