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Cardinals Cashing In On Fourth Down Aggressiveness

Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald's fourth down catch in Tampa Bay helped set up a touchdown.
Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald's fourth down catch in Tampa Bay helped set up a touchdown.

Kliff Kingsbury doesn’t have a catchy phrase like “No risk-it, no biscuit” but his aggressiveness with the Cardinals has mirrored that of former coach Bruce Arians, and it’s paying off.

The Cardinals have gone for it on fourth down 11 times this season and have converted eight of them, which is tied for the second-best rate in the NFL. Even more impressively, they ended up scoring on all eight of those drives, including six touchdowns.

The most recent example came against the 49ers, when Kingsbury went for it on fourth-and-1 at the San Francisco 34 and converted on a pass from quarterback Kyler Murray to tight end Darrell Daniels. Three plays later, Murray found wide receiver Pharoh Cooper for a 5-yard touchdown.

Two of the failures were memorable, as running back Chase Edmonds was stopped on a fourth-and-1 attempt from the Arizona 30 in New Orleans, and tight end Maxx Williams lost a sure touchdown pass in the sun in Tampa Bay.

Despite this, the good has outweighed the bad, as the Cardinals are averaging 4.36 points per drive on the 11 in which Kingsbury eschewed a punt or field-goal attempt.

According to Ben Baldwin of The Athletic, the Cardinals have been the fourth-most aggressive team in the NFL on fourth down this season, behind only the Ravens, Colts and Bills. That includes a conservative start when Kingsbury didn’t want to put too much, too soon on Murray early in his rookie year.

The NFL has undergone a noticeable shift on fourth downs in the past decade, and Kingsbury has been among the bolder coaches in 2019.

Table inside Article
Opponent Distance Yard Line Drive Result
Ravens 4th-and-2 BAL 47 Field Goal
Panthers 4th-and-1 CAR 37 Field Goal
Bengals 4th-and-2 CIN 6 Touchdown
Falcons 4th-and-2 ATL 35 Touchdown
Giants 4th-and-3 NYG 35 Touchdown
Saints 4th-and-1 AZ 30 Downs
Saints 4th-and-2 NO 27 Downs
Buccaneers 4th-and-5 TB 44 Touchdown
Buccaneers 4th-and-1 TB 23 Downs
Buccaneers 4th-and-10 AZ 36 Touchdown
49ers 4th-and-1 SF 34 Touchdown

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