Backup players finding a role with Arizona Cardinals offense in 2021
Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury is keeping his offensive attack rolling this season with some talented backup contributors.
For two consecutive seasons, a legion of so-called “experts” wholeheartedly believed that the latest head coach of the Arizona Cardinals was destined for failure. Those same critics loudly mocked the young man’s “Air Raid” offense, telling anyone who would listen that the college-oriented system would be stymied by the defensive coordinators of the NFL.
Now, midway through the 2021 campaign, it’s Coach of the Year candidate Kliff Kingsbury who’s having the last laugh.
The humble, mild-mannered Kingsbury is currently engineering one of the league’s most successful and explosive scoring attacks. Just last weekend, the former Texas Tech University head-man proved that even backup players can excel when Kingsbury is at the controls.
Arizona Cardinals offense doesn’t miss a beat with talented trio of backups
Last Sunday, Cards quarterback Kyler Murray was in street clothes when his teammates took to the road for a divisional matchup with the San Francisco 49ers. Journeyman signal-caller Colt McCoy stepped in, turning in a flawless performance in leading Arizona to a convincing 31-17 victory.
The 35-year-old McCoy completed 22 out of his 26 pass attempts, registering an outstanding 84.6 completion percentage versus the 49ers’ defense. The 12th-year veteran threw for 249 yards and hooked up with running back James Conner on a 45-yard scoring play in the third quarter.
Joining Murray on the sidelines during the meeting with San Francisco was DeAndre Hopkins, the Cardinals’ superstar wide receiver who was nursing a pulled hamstring. That injury created an opportunity for Antoine Wesley, the little-known pass-catcher who played for Kingsbury at Texas Tech. The 6-foot-4, 206-pounder hauled in three passes for 62 yards, a stat line which included a sensational 33-yard reception that was thrown by fellow wideout Christian Kirk.
If the Murray and Hopkins injuries weren’t enough to overcome, the Redbirds then lost running back Chase Edmonds on the squad’s first play from scrimmage. That loss prompted Kingsbury to turn to Eno Benjamin, a second-year youngster who had carried the rock just two times prior to the clash with the 49ers. The 22-year-old answered the call in a big way, rumbling for 39 yards on nine carries, and absolutely flattening former Arizona cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick on a 21-yard touchdown run.
A scoring attack that failed to win consistently at the college level is now working like a charm on the highest stage. Getting impressive production out of substitute performers is the work of a bona fide genius. Perhaps it’s time for Kingsbury’s detractors to give the offensive guru the credit he so rightfully deserves.
(Statistics provided by ESPN’s NFL Scores)