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Early Air Raid Success Left Big Impression On Kliff Kingsbury

Cardinals coach saw scheme work at Texas Tech, Houston a decade ago

Cardinals receiver Michael Crabtree helped Texas Tech and the Air Raid reach lofty heights in 2008.
New Cardinals receiver Michael Crabtree helped Texas Tech's Air Raid offense reach lofty heights in 2008.

The Cardinals agreed to terms with Michael Crabtree on Wednesday night, and while their hope is that he helps the offense in 2019, the move brought back decade-old memories of the wide receiver.

Crabtree was dominant in his two seasons at Texas Tech in 2007-08, catching 231 passes for 3,127 yards and 41 touchdowns in 26 games. Mike Leach was the maestro of that potent passing game – the same coach that Kliff Kingsbury had in Lubbock from 2000-02.

Even though the Air Raid was viewed as a gimmick offense by most during that decade, Kingsbury noticed how well it worked. In 2008, he began his coaching career as an assistant at Houston, which ran a similar scheme under Kevin Sumlin and produced record-setting quarterback Case Keenum.

Texas Tech and Houston are far from college football powerhouses, but they went a combined 38-15 in 2008 and 2009, cementing Kingsbury's belief in the offensive philosophy.

"Being around some of those really impactful college coaches on offense – talking about Mike Leach, Art Briles, Dana Holgorsen and guys that have done it at a high level – when you've been around that and seen how well those guys have done, it definitely makes an impression upon you," Kingsbury said.

Now Kingsbury is at the forefront of bringing the attack to the NFL, and he will have Crabtree, an 11-year veteran, as one of his main options on the outside.

Images from the Dignity Health Arizona Cardinals Training Center heading into the third preseason game