Arizona Needs an Offensive Coordinator in 2021… So Why Don’t They Have One?
The Arizona Cardinals featured probably if not the best offense in the entire league for the first half of the 2020 season. Going into their week 8 bye, the Cardinals sat at a 5-2 record, and had just upset the previously unbeaten Seattle Seahawks in Glendale. Had this offensive trend continued it’s quite possible this Arizona team would be preparing for an early February matchup with Patrick Mahomes’ Kansas City Chiefs in Tampa, but the football gods had another idea in mind. The Cardinals would stumble out of their bye, losing 4 of their next 5, with their one win coming courtesy of a hail mary to DeAndre Hopkins. The Cardinals would finish the second half of their 2020 season by going 3-6 in their last final nine games. The offense broke down, and it only got worse when a playoff spot was on the line in the last two weeks of the season.
The Cardinals need to bring in an offensive coordinator. Kliff Kingsbury may pride himself on being an offensive guru, but the fact of the matter remains that his offense bit the dust when it truly mattered. I would consider him on the hot seat in 2021, so it would make a lot of sense for him to want another name helping him navigate the season, or even using as a scapegoat should he need to. Kingsbury is not the best offensive mind in the NFC, nor his own division for that matter. Sean McVay and Kyle Shanahan are both, in my personal opinion, much better offensive coaches who have brought in new offensive coordinators this offseason. The 49ers promoted Mike McDaniel to be their offensive coordinator ensuring that Robert Saleh would not poach him from Shanahan’s offense to follow him to the Jets. Meanwhile, McVay, who previously has not had an offensive coordinator his first three seasons, hired Kevin O’Connell about two weeks ago to serve as the offensive’s top assistant. McVay and O’Connell previously coaching together under Jay Gruden in Washington, so many believe as though McVay was waiting for his guy to become available. Many fans will agree that Kingsbury is not a better coach than these two, so it remains a mystery as to why he will not bring in another assistant to help.
The only recent moves remotely close to this sort of magnitude that the Cardinals have made came yesterday when Bob McManaman of AZ Central wrote that offensive line coach, Sean Kulger, would be promoted to run game coordinator. Under Kulger, the Cardinals’ rushing attack led by Kenyan Drake saw Drake’s stats rise from 643 yds, and 8 TD in 2019 to 955 yds and 10 TD in 2020. Drake also spent some time injured this season, so I have reason to believe a healthy Drake in 2020 would have made it over the 1,000-yard season threshold. Arizona’s rushing attack will be a crucial element to address in 2021 as opponents are likely to be much more aware of the threat a Murray-Hopkins combo poses to their secondary.
Nobody is saying Kingsbury needs to relinquish play calling here, that’s a topic for another article, but after the collapse the team had in the second half of the season, the status quo needs to be challenged. This was a playoff team. The Arizona Cardinals should have been the #7 seed, not Chicago. Another collapse in 2021 and a whiff on a playoff appearance could lead to a shakeup of the current coaching regime next January.