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Red Zone Issues Remain On Kliff Kingsbury To-Do List

Kliff Kingsbury was talking about analytics and his use of them when someone asked if had used analytics when it came to playcalling in the red zone.

"I'm open to suggestions if you have any," Kingsbury quipped.

Ahh, the red zone. The bane of the 2019 Cardinals thus far, and of Kingsbury. The Cardinals piled up 514 total yards of offense Sunday in Cincinnati, and are light years ahead of what the offense showed in 2018. They now have 22 scoring drives this season, eighth in the NFL. That's a good thing. The bad thing? They have only six touchdowns in 20 red-zone visits, a 30 percent clip that makes it tough to win (especially when the Cardinals' defense is probably going to give up some points.)

Against the Bengals, the Cards had six red-zone trips, although a couple of them weren't fully fleshed out. To recap.

  • Entered with a 1st-n-10 at the 14. Kyler Murray capped drive with 4th-n-2 6-yard TD scamper.
  • Entered with a 3rd-n-6 at the 19. An incompletion to KeeSean Johnson led to a field-goal miss.
  • Entered with a 1st-n-10 at the 11. A 6-yard run, a no-yard run, and a Murray backshoulder misfire to Trent Sherfield. Field-goal.
  • Entered with a 1st-n-goal at the 4. With no timeouts and 14 seconds left, Murray tried a screen to Larry Fitzgerald that was read perfectly. Fitz was tackled for no gain immediately. Cardinals were lucky to kill the clock for a field goal.
  • Entered with a 1st-n-10 at the 11. Run for 1, 10-yard penalty, 8-yard run and 8-yard pass forced a field goal from the 4.
  • Entered with a 1st-n-10 at the 15. This was Murray's 24-yard scramble to set up the winning field goal. The Cardinals ran David Johnson for two yards just to get it on the proper hashmark and didn't go for a TD. Field goal wins it.

"I saw improvements – I know it didn't look like it – but I saw improvements with what we were trying to do," Kingsbury said. "We just have to keep getting better.

Kingsbury has taken the blame on himself for the playcalls, although there are some execution issues. The Sherfield pass was one -- Kingsbury acknowledged Murray needed to make a better throw -- although the Fitz screen, given the circumstances with no timeouts, might've been better served as some throw into the end zone. For the crowd that begged for more running in the red zone, the Cards called seven runs and five passes (not counting the spike and the final run just to set up the last field goal) within the 20.

But the Cardinals to have a ton of scoring drives, and Kingsbury is trying to balance the knowledge the offense has done things that have worked with other parts that need improvement.

"It's a process and I understand that," the coach said. "We've obviously like to score more touchdowns, but we're all going to grow together, myself included. There have been moments when we have looked like I expected to look, and there have been moments where we have stalled."

Larry Fitzgerald is stopped on a wide receiver screen Sunday in Cincinnati, prior to a field-goal try.
Larry Fitzgerald is stopped on a wide receiver screen Sunday in Cincinnati, prior to a field-goal try.