Passing Offense Focuses on Everyone Being Involved

Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray hopes to utilize the entire pass-catching corps and not rely solely on DeAndre Hopkins.
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It should surprise no one that DeAndre Hopkins was the most targeted Cardinals receiver during the 2020 season.

The reality, however, is that it was by a significantly wide margin. Hopkins had more than double the targets of every other pass-catcher that quarterback Kyler Murray tried to get the ball to last season.

Hopkins was targeted 160 times, which was 29.4% of the attempted passes. Christian Kirk ended up just under half of Hopkins’ targets with 79 (14.5%). After that, it was Larry Fitzgerald, 72/13.2; running back Chase Edmonds, 67/12.3; tight end Dan Arnold (now with Carolina), 45/8.3; Andy Isabella, 35/6.4; and running back Kenyan Drake (Raiders), 31/5.7.

Seven other players totaled 55 and none reached five percent of the total targets.

While Sunday’s game against Tennessee was only the first of 17 and hardly a big enough sample size, the additions of A.J. Green and Rondale Moore are providing Murray with more options, and that was evident in the victory over the Titans.

Hopkins sill led the way with eight targets, which was 25% of Murray’s 32 pass attempts. But that was followed closely by Green with six, Kirk and Moore with five, Edmonds with four and tight ends Demetrius Harris and Maxx Williams with three and one, respectively.

Asked Tuesday if the focus for the offense is to spread the ball around more, Edmonds said, “It's a multitude of things. I believe wholeheartedly that one through four, we got guys that can win one-on-one any day, any play with D-Hop, A.J., Kirk, and Rondale. I think also it just speaks volumes to the playmakers that we have around us.”

Of course, Edmonds still realizes Hopkins will usually be the most targeted receiver.

“It obviously does start with No. 10 and ends with No. 10,” he said. “If you look back on our games, I think when D-Hop had 100 (yards) we were like 6-1 or 5-1 or something like that, so obviously D-Hop's success does help our offense a lot.”

Edmonds was accurate with his numbers. The Cardinals were indeed 6-1 when he had at least 100 yards, with the one loss coming against Detroit in Week 3 when he had 10 receptions for 137 yards. In the two victories where he fell short of 100, he had 73 yards on two receptions against Dallas and 68 yards on eight catches against Washington.

Most notably, in the team’s eight wins, Hopkins totaled 65 receptions for 958 yards (14.7 average). However, in the seven losses other than the Lions, Hopkins was hardly a factor with 40 catches for only 312 yards (7.8 average). For the season, he had only six touchdown receptions and all but one came in games the team won.

Against Tennessee, he fell short of 100, but averaged 13.8 yards on his six catches for 83 with two touchdowns.

Still, the hope is that in games where his numbers might be lower, others will step up.

That’s what Edmonds believes.

He said, “Having those guys be able to make plays that K1 can trust going man on man; a lot of teams do not have four defensive backs that can guard guys like that. And I think that's something that we got to continue to just utilize. And those guys got to continue to utilize and grow as we get going into the season with their chemistry with K1 and it's only going to help this offense grow as we go.

“So to get those guys involved early, get some confidence going, really find out who can make some plays for us one-on-one outside is really good for us. It's a good building point that we can build on going forward.”

Noting how Murray has progressed being able to see the field and check to different plays, head coach Kliff Kingsbury acknowledged how that helps getting everyone involved.

“I think that's always the plan,” Kingsbury said. “Offensively, you want to be balanced. And that's the hardest thing. If you are; that's what we try to do week in and week out. DeAndre is going to command a lot of footballs coming his way. And he should, because every time you throw to him something good seems to happen. But the toughest offenses to defend are the ones who can really spread the football around.”