When Kliff Kingsbury was hired by the Cardinals in January, he cautioned that his offense would not be the same full-throated Air Raid employed by his mentor, Mike Leach.
Throughout the offseason, Kingsbury also said he would adjust his offensive style to fit the team’s strengths.
He has made good on those words.
Kingsbury has been incredibly adaptive through the first seven weeks of the season, switching seamlessly from pass-heavy to run-heavy to balanced offensive attacks depending on matchups, personnel and game situations.
“It’s always something that made sense to me,” Kingsbury said. “Play to your personnel and call things that give them a chance to be successful. It started with quarterbacks and making sure I built the offense around the starter with things that he wanted to do and coach him the way he wanted to be coached, and then it’s just carried over to every personnel group and trying to maximize who they are.”
Cardinals tight ends Maxx Williams and Charles Clay, afterthoughts to begin the season, were both on the field more than 45 percent of the time Sunday against the Giants.
Quarterback Kyler Murray only threw four times in the second half of the contest, and while the rain was the main reason for that, Kingsbury has leaned on the running game often the past three weeks.
It’s easy to understand why, as the Cardinals’ rushing attack has been surprisingly successful, rated as the third-most efficient group in the NFL this season by Football Outsiders. On Sunday, running back Chase Edmonds graded out as the most valuable rusher in the NFL.
The efficient running game has been the catalyst for an offensive rebirth. Last season, the Cardinals were 40.4 percent worse than the average NFL offense, which was easily last in the NFL and historically poor. Through seven games, they are 1.9 percent better than the average 2019 offense, which is 16th in the league.
Kingsbury and the rest of the coaching staff deserve plaudits for both impressive schematics and the willingness to be flexible.