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Kliff Kingsbury Diverts From NFC West Counterparts On Fourth Down

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll (left) and coach Kliff Kingsbury chat on Sunday
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll (left) and coach Kliff Kingsbury chat on Sunday

The track records of Pete Carroll, Sean McVay and Kyle Shanahan are impressive, and Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury would love to reach their level of NFL success.

But on fourth down, at least, he's approaching things differently from his NFC West counterparts.

Kingsbury has been the most aggressive coach in the division on fourth down this season. He has gone for it 20 times and converted 13 of them, which is the most attempts and conversions for the Cardinals since Pro Football Reference began tracking them in 1998.

By contrast, McVay and the Rams are 3-of-12 on fourth downs this season, Carroll and the Seahawks 6-of-11 and Shanahan and the 49ers 7-of-12.

The Cardinals have been behind in more games than the others in 2019, but even factoring for that, Kingsbury has been the fifth-most aggressive coach in the NFL on fourth downs.

The Rams and Seahawks are in the bottom four, and while the 49ers have been the tenth-most aggressive team in the NFL this season, in 2018 they were last by a longshot.

The Cardinals' 65 percent conversion rate is fourth in the NFL, and fourth-down decision-making contributed the team's 27-13 win over the Seahawks on Sunday.

Kingsbury went for it on fourth-and-2 from the Seattle 47 with 1:52 left in the first half, and a Pharoh Cooper 14-yard reception eventually led to a Zane Gonzalez field goal. It also ran the clock down enough that the Seahawks had no chance to answer before intermission.

On the flip-side, Carroll did not go for it on fourth-and-1 from the Arizona 33 in the first quarter. Seattle took a delay of game while setting up for a field goal and eventually punted.

As fourth-down decisions are studied in-depth, the math says that coaches should be much more aggressive in those situations, and Kingsbury is standing out among his NFC West peers in that regard.

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