How much? I mean, can it be a 1,000-yards-each kind of impact?
"Yeah for sure," quarterback Kyler Murray said when posed that question. "I definitely think that's possible."
Possible, maybe. But given circumstances, probably still a long shot. The last trio of 1,000-yard pass catchers in the NFL came from, coincidentally, the Cardinals. In 2008, Fitz, Anquan Boldin and Steve Breaston hit the mark. It's an accomplishment that has only been reached five times in NFL history.
|1980 Chargers||John Jefferson||1,340||Kellen Winslow||1,290||Charlie Joiner||1,132|
|1989 WFT||Gary Clark||1,229||Art Monk||1,186||Ricky Sanders||1,138|
|1995 Falcons||Eric Metcalf||1,189||Terance Mathis||1,039||Bert Emanuel||1,039|
|2004 Colts||Reggie Wayne||1,210||Marvin Harrison||1,113||Brandon Stokley||1,077|
|2008 Cardinals||Larry Fitzgerald||1,431||Anquan Boldin||1,038||Steve Breaston||1,006|
Even the 2008 trio needed to work at getting the mark. Breaston cracked the four-digit level on his final catch of the season, when the Cardinals had the ball in a home win against the Seahawks and the game already in hand. Then-Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren wasn't particularly happy the Cards threw in such a situation, until Ken Whisenhunt let him know postgame why they threw a pass Breaston's way.
But the biggest factor in that 2008 accomplishment -- and the piece that fits in the current discussion about the Cardinals' new trio -- is that the 2008 Cardinals had trouble running the ball all season. Edgerrin James was benched for a good chunk of the year (before reemerging to play a crucial role running the ball during the team's Super Bowl run) and Tim Hightower as a rookie could never consistently gain yards either. The offense was all about Kurt Warner and the passing game.
This year's Cardinals, with Kenyan Drake and the running ability of Murray and even the way Kliff Kingsbury has designed the offense, figures to be much more effective on the ground. They averaged five yards a carry last year, a number that 2008 offense could only dream about.
And it's just a hard benchmark to reach anyway. The 2015 Cardinals -- who ran the ball very, very well -- were arguably the best offense in franchise history. Fitz got 1,000 yards. John Brown cracked 1,000 yards. But Michael Floyd, who was excellent that year once he got past a training camp hand injury, could only get to 849.
Then again, if the Cardinals play fast as expected and have success, there will be more opportunity. The hope is that Hopkins -- and Murray in his second year -- transforms this offense. The hope is that Kirk stays healthy and breaks out like Kingsbury expects. The hope is that the ageless Fitz can punish defenses who are a) focusing too much on D-Hop and b) lulled into complacency by Fitz's age. That all could happen, and three 1,000-yard receivers still would be difficult to pull off.