The Arizona Cardinals went into their bye week fresh off their second victory of the 2018 season. A season sweep of the rival 49ers have accounted for the only wins this season. The bye brings to a close the first half of the season for Arizona. With half the season completed, it’s time to grade the offensive position groups.
Make no mistake, this grade is indicative of how bad Sam Bradford looked during his short time as Cardinals starting quarterback. Bradford went winless in his three starts, throwing for just 400 yards with two touchdowns and four interceptions. The veteran looked tentative in the pocket and often threw the football to the first read, even if covered. Rookie Josh Rosen took over at the end of the Chicago game. Rosen has shown signs of the ability. The rookie has average 40 more yards per game through the air and has half the interception rate as Bradford. By the end of the 2018 season, the final grades could see a significant jump if Rosen can continue his progression.
Running Back: C+
The Cardinals offense has struggled to integrate the running back position for most of the season. Through the first half of the season the offense has just 161 rushing attempts. Part of the issue has been a lack of consistent run blocking up front. There has also been the issue of play calling. Former offensive coordinator Mike McCoy favored runs to the inside. The decision stumped many as both David Johnson and Chase Edmonds are explosive runners who are better served threatening the edges of the defense. With Byron Leftwich now in charge of the offense, the position looks to be trending upwards. The offense now seemed intent on integrating the position with a better mix of run plays and throws coming out of the backfield or set out wide.
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Wide Receiver/Tight End: C+
Arizona’s passing game has struggled throughout the season. While playcalling and poor offensive line play are definitely to blame, so to is a case of the drops by the receivers and tight ends. The unit has combined for 14 drops through eight games. Combine that with receivers struggling to find separation and you have a passing game struggling to find consistency. Larry Fitzgerald saw little action through the first few games but has come to life under Leftwich. The veteran leads the unit with 53 targets, followed by rookie Christian Kirk with 46 targets. The more comfortable Rosen gets with the offense, the more the receiving room will benefit. Expect increased production from both Kirk and Fitzgerald in the second half of the season.
Offensive Line: D
During the offseason the Cardinals signed Andre Smith and Justin Pugh to shore up offensive line issues. The two veterans joined veteran center A.Q. Shipley, Mike Iupati, and D.J. Humphries. Arizona also drafted Mason Cole in the middle of the 2018 draft to help with depth. However, training camp brought a season ending knee injury to Shipley. The injury placed the spotlight on the young rookie to take over at one of the most important positions on offense. Cole has been serviceable as a rookie but has struggled with consistency. The entire offensive line has struggled with consistency. It is telling that the Cardinals are near the bottom in both rushing and passing yards. The unit is in the middle of the pack in sacks surrendered with 22, but are in the bottom ten when factoring percentage of drop backs resulting in a sack.
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The Cardinals offense as a whole has struggled in nearly every aspect of the game. A combination of injuries, mental mistakes, and poor coaching have led to the second worst offense in the league. Arizona does have a glimmer of hope as the offense features many new pieces and a new offensive coordinator who looks to be focusing on integrating the playmakers on the roster. The second half of the season starts on Sunday against an explosive Chiefs offense. If the Cardinals hope to make strides this season it will need to begin against Kansas City.
<em>– Ryan Adverderada is the Managing Editor for Full Press Coverage Cardinals. Like and follow on Follow @ryanadverderada Follow @Cardinalsand https://www.facebook.com/Full-Press-Cardinals-1993471174015595“>Facebook</a>.</em>