There’s a lot riding on this season for coach Kliff Kingsbury as he enters the third year of his four-year contract with the Arizona Cardinals.
Kingsbury‘s teams have finished with a better record than the previous season in his first two years with the Cardinals, posting a 5-10-1 record in his first season and going 8-8 in 2020. He also turned what had been the league’s worst offense in 2018 (241.6 yards per game) into a more respectable unit in 2019 (341.7 yards per game, 21st overall), and then one of the top offensive teams in 2020 (384.6 yards per game, sixth overall).
Speaking to reporters Monday, September 6, in Glendale, Arizona, Kingsbury said he expects the Cardinals’ offense to take another step forward in 2021.
“Year three of the offense in places I’ve been has really been a good year,” he said. “Guys are comfortable with it, understand what we’re trying to accomplish, so I’m excited to see if we can take that jump.”
Quarterback Kyler Murray has two NFL seasons under his belt, and Kingsbury continues to adapt his playbook from the “air raid” attack he was known for at Texas Tech into a more balanced, NFL-style offense.
“I think with our quarterback being in his third year and some of the other players being in their third year, I think it will have some carryover,” Kingsbury said.
“I like the progress we’ve seen,” Kingsbury said of the receiving corps. “A.J. brings a lot of experience. He’s the consummate professional. He’s been great for that room.”
“Rondale, he has some real explosive traits that we’ve got to be able to utilize,” Kingsbury said, “and then you have Hop and Christian Kirk who were here last year and know the system inside and out.”
Moore said he’s anxious but not nervous to get the season started.
“I think I’m surrounded by a great group of guys who’ve given me tons of knowledge,” the rookie from Purdue told reporters Monday, September 6. “I think my coaches do a great job of showing the film and just showing me different nuances while I’m on the field to be comfortable.”
ESPN’s Josh Weinfuss singled out Moore as the Cardinals’ breakout candidate for 2021, saying he “has shown signs of brilliance during training camp, but that doesn’t mean his success will translate to the regular season.” Still, Weinfuss says Moore “seems to have the total package: speed, quickness, hands, strength and IQ.”
Weinfuss also predicts that Green will reach 1,000 receiving yards, saying the 33-year-old receiver will benefit from playing alongside Hopkins.
There’s a good opportunity for the Cardinals’ passing attack to show if or how much it’s improved when Arizona travels to Tennessee to take on the Titans on Sunday, September 12. The Titans had one of the league’s worst passing defenses a year ago, giving up 277.4 yards per game through the air. Only the Falcons, Seahawks and Lions were worse.
Oddsmakers are expecting a shootout between the Cardinals and Titans, as betting lines from Tipico Sportsbook has the projected point total at 52.5 — tied for the most of any game in Week 1.
“I like what we’ve seen,” Kingsbury said of his offense. “We’ve just got to go out there and perform.”
Moore Surprises Mom With New Home
In addition to his play on the field being one of the bright spots of training camp, Moore recently surprised his mother by buying her a new home in New Albany, Indiana.
The rookie receiver tweeted a photo of the home on Saturday, September 4, along with the message: “For everything you sacrificed for me and my siblings, this is only the beginning. Mama, this one is for you.”
Moore said his mother had seen the home before but was under the impression that another offer had been accepted. Instead, Moore arranged with his Realtor to hold an open house at the home, where family members surprised her with the news the home was hers, he said.
Healthy Cardinals Back to Work
Arizona had all 53 players on its active roster healthy and practicing on Monday, September 6, Kingsbury said.
“With the COVID stuff, you never know day to day (who will be available),” he said, “but it’s good to have all 53 guys out there and practicing.”
The Cardinals will have a light day of practice on Tuesday, September 7, before getting the game prep “cranked up” on Wednesday, September 8, Kingsbury said. Team captains also will be announced during that time, he said.