Background: May 23, 2022; Tempe, Arizona, USA; Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury talks to tight end Zach Ertz (86) during mini-camp at the Arizona Cardinals practice facility. NFL Cardinals Mini Camp
Kliff Kingsbury’s most underrated attribute as an offensive coordinator is his adaptability and propensity to match his projects to the strengths of his staff.
You’ve heard me say this before – and it bears repeating – – Kliff Kingsbury can generate high-volume production with a variety of quarterbacks. He always has. The main reason is that his plans are designed to be QB friendly.
After Kingsbury’s first three games as an NFL caller, his offensive line coach Sean Kugler and his offensive linemen encouraged Kliff to play fewer snaps in 10 (4 WR + 1 RB) in favor of a more regular diet of 12 people. (2 WR, 2 TE, 1 RB).
Kingsbury was docile.
Since then, Kingsbury have made a concerted effort to stage a balanced running and passing game.
What he discovered in the process was how valuable his staff is at tight end and running back.
Think about how important tight ends and running backs were to Tom Brady’s success – and how Brady used them in different ways, like flexing his tight ends in and out the slot in order to exploit the coverage shifts – or using his running backs as key targets in the passing game.
You may recall how Tom Brady leaned on RB James White to rally the Patriots to Super Bowl LI after his team faced a 28-3 deficit to the Atlanta Falcons. After the Patriots’ stunning 34-28 win, Tom Brady felt that James White, who caught 14 passes for 110 yards and scored 3 touchdowns (2 of them were rushing touchdowns, including the game-winner), should have to be named the MVP.
Two years later in Super Bowl LIII, in the 4th quarter of a 3-3 game dominated by both teams’ defenses, Tom Brady opted to flex TE Rob Gronkowski in order to create one-on-one opportunities.
Brady was able to isolate Gronk due to the QB’s success hitting the sneaky lunge WR Julian Edelman in the middle to the tune of 10 catches for 141 yards. Thus, the Rams were forced to bracket Edelman with their CB slot and the FS.
During the streak, clutch passes from Brady to Gronk helped set up the TD go-ahead and field goal that capped a 13-3 victory and the 6th Super Bowl ring of Brady.
Looking closely at what the Cardinals have done on the personnel side of the offensive side of the ball this offseason, they’re adopting the Patriots’ philosophy of adding a stable of TEs and RBs.
- Zach Ertz — classic “Y” receiver.
- Maxx Williams—-classic online blocker and game action receiver.
- Stephen Anderson—Classic Swiss Army Knife TE as in-line TE, H-Back, flexible “Y” receiver and FB.
- Trey McBride —- classic “do it all” TE.
- James Conner—-the ram
- Darrel Williams —- the chameleon
- Keontay Ingram—-the Rattlesnake
- Eno Benjamin —- the razor
- Jonathan Ward —- the gazelle
- Ronnie Rivers—- the hare
- TJ Pledger —- The Water Bug
- AJ Green
- Anthony Wesley
- Marquise Brown
- Rondale Moore
- Andy Isabelle
- Run the football to establish ball control that creates great opportunities for game action.
- Attack the seams and flats with the TEs and the WR slots, thus occupying the free safeties.
- Create individual isolations for the WRs.
- Use stacks for long and short moves (friction) in combined routes.
- Exploit head-to-head matches on fast routes.
- Use RBs as a third wave on circular roads, screens, flares, flat passes and wheel roads.
- Use 2 RB sets to create a stronger rushing attack and to create RB movement coverage offsets and sync routes.
- Suck the defense towards the box so you can make a few deep passes over the top.
- Use QBs as point guards who locate and deliver the football to the open man.
- Take and exploit what the offense gives them.
Want to get excited about what this new Cardinals attack on the Rams might look like? Plus, do you want to take a look at what versatility and positional depth can do for coaches and players to make creative adjustments in tight games? Check out this—-this is a version of what Kliff Kingsbury is trying to create in Arizona: