Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury has yet again shown his sheer ignorance regarding his team’s offensive struggles.
If you thought things couldn’t get any worse for Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury, think again. Kingsbury, who at least made one wise statement when he said he’d consider giving up playcalling duties on Monday, couldn’t last 24 hours without making yet another gaffe.
His latest claim? Kingsbury stated, per Pro Football Talk, that his team’s offensive struggles are, “new to me.”
Does he mean new in terms of this season? Because Kingsbury, in Year 4 of his tenure with the Cardinals, has seen plenty of offensive struggles since he first took the sideline in 2019 as what might have been the most surprising and polarizing coaching hire that season.
Arizona Cardinals offensive struggles under Kingsbury are not new
In 2020, the Cardinals scored 30-plus points in six of their first 10 games. They reached the 30-point milestone just once in the final six. During those six games, the Cardinals averaged 24 points per game. Not a bad number, until you factor in that they scored 21 or fewer points in four of those games, including 19 combined points in the final two.
Fast forward to 2021, and the Cardinals put up 30-plus in six of their first seven games. They hit 30 points just three more times following their Week 7 win against the Houston Texans. During that span, they scored 21 or fewer points just once, in a 17-10 win over the San Francisco 49ers.
In four games during the second half of last season, all losses, they found themselves at or below the 21-point threshold. Their average points total in the first seven games? 32.14 points. Their average total from Week 8 to Week 18? 22.4 points. Again, not a terrible number, but one where the Cardinals offense struggled mightily against weak teams like the Carolina Panthers and Detroit Lions.
In 2020, the Cleveland Browns and Seattle Seahawks finished 16th and 17th in total offense, respectively, averaging 369 yards per game. This is a threshold I’ll use as the average in this section. The Cardinals offensive production dipped under this mark just once in their first seven games of the season. In the latter half of 2020, they fell under the 369-yard threshold five times.
In 2021, the Indianapolis Colts and Tennessee Titans finished in the middle of the pack, averaging 366 yards per game. In four of their first 11 contests of 2021, they fell under that average.
And while it happened only twice in the final six games, it is worth noting that in another two games where the Cardinals offense rose over the 366-yard threshold, they scored 12 points against the Detroit Lions, and 16 against the Colts.
Ironically, in the two games where they dipped under 366 yards, they averaged nearly 32 points in those contests. They also had a number of fair offensive outings earlier in the year with smaller total yardage numbers. But you get the point: The Arizona Cardinals offense has seen extended periods of struggles in the past, and it’s nothing new.
Kingsbury deserves some leeway
I will, however, cut Kingsbury some slack in this one. While he is wrong to point out that the team’s offensive struggles are “new,” he is right to the extent that the struggles have never been this bad. In 2022, the New York Jets and San Francisco 49ers sit at 16th and 17th, respectively, averaging 342 yards per game.
The Cardinals, unfortunately, have dipped below this mark three times, finishing 1-2 on the season when they do. Points-wise, they are averaging just 19 per game, ranking 22nd in the NFL. Compare that to 2020, where the Cardinals finished with 410 points and 25.6 per game, ranking 13th in the league.
In 2021, that number climbed to 449 points, 11th in the NFL at 26.4 per game. So I will cut Kingsbury some slack here. At the absolute least, the Cardinals offense has, overall, never looked this bad. But to claim the struggles as, “new” is an entirely inaccurate statement.
(Historical data provided by Pro-Football-Reference)