Welcome to the best NFL offseason series you'll ever read -- that is, if you're like me, and you want nothing more than the blissful lie that your team will be good in 2019. How Your Team Won Super Bowl 54 will take you through each NFL franchise with one goal in mind: convincing you that there's at least one universe in which Your Team wins it all. I'm Doctor Strange, you're Tony Stark, the Avengers are Your Team, Thanos is...Bill Belichick? I've lost the metaphor.
One thing's for sure:
You'll die in the end. Your Team is going to win Super Bowl 54.
How many receivers can the Cardinals run?
*insert Captain America sitting on the chair gif* So you've hired Kliff Kingsbury. Now what?
Well, the Cardinals were a pretty big part of this year's draft cycle because of their pursuit of Kyler Murray, the Oklahoma QB who played in an Air Raid-inspired spread offense under Lincoln Riley -- but don't let that fool you into believing QB is the most important part. Kingsbury, to his credit, regularly produced dominant college offenses regardless of who his QB was -- though that stretch of time with Patrick Mahomes didn't hurt.
So you don't need the quarterback -- or, I should say, there isn't an exact right type of QB you need.
The Cardinals' offensive line was equal parts horrendous and injured last year -- is step two fixing the offensive line? If you look again to the past draft cycle, you'll see that the Cardinals didn't address offensive line until the sixth round. It wasn't a priority to them. Rather, they selected three receivers -- two more than most people thought they needed -- within the first six rounds of the draft: Andy Isabella in Round 2, Hakeem Butler in Round 4, and KeeSean Johnson in Round 6.
This all despite having Larry Fitzgerald, last year's second-rounder in Christian Kirk, and 2017's third-rounder in Chad Williams all rostered.
Now, a new coach coming in and replacing the old guys with his guys isn't unheard of -- but I'm not convinced that's exactly what just happened. Williams and Kirk weren't so much the old staff's guys as they were nobody's guys -- remember, the Cardinals have had different offensive coaching staffs in the last three seasons -- and the general manager who acquired them, Steve Keim, is still in the building and in control of the roster.
Rather, the embarrassment of riches spent on the wide receiver position underlines a critical point when discussing Kliff Kingsbury's Air Raid translating to the NFL: the need for bodies.
Kingsbury's Air Raid regularly deploys 4 wide receivers on the field. It asks them to go straight vertical downfield more often than most offenses, and it often asks them to come across the field hard and fast as well. It takes gas in the tank and bodies on the bench, to ensure that your top wideouts remain fresh in the fourth quarter.
And a continuation to this point: a lot of the late-game successes for offenses such as Kingsbury's can be tied back to the relative stamina levels of the wide receiver and his opposing corner. With a deep college roster and a ton of bodies to spill into the WR position, Kingsbury had the opportunity to run the opponent's best corner downfield down after down after down, rotating the third-string wide receivers he used, saving his ace for the fourth quarter.
That won't be as easy at the NFL level, wherein most teams roster 6 wide receivers on the active 53-man roster. With 10 personnel as a frequent base set, Kliff won't be able to run opposing secondaries into the ground with backups, and must have a deep and well-conditioned group if he hopes to have the same caliber of play by quarter 4.
Famously adjacent to Sean McVay (and with inflated handsomeness accordingly), Kingsbury is seen as a flashpoint for NFL innovation, should he stick at the next level. But Chip Kelly was once seen as much the same, a maven of offense ready to rip through the NFL like wildfire. But he ran his team and his defense -- something we didn't even discuss with Kliff -- into the ground. Kingsbury walks the same, narrow line.
How tall is Kyler Murray?
In case you've forgotten, the measurement of the century took place in Indianapolis this past March. As the nation held its breath, Oklahoma QB Kyler Murray stepped onto the stage, with his football/baseball future, status as a Number 1 overall pick, and the fate of the universe hanging in the balance. Drops of sweat raced down the...official measurer?...'s head, his hand trembling as he matted Murray's hair to reveal the Height Of Destiny.
Which ended up being 5'10.
Now, because a team can't win football games with a quarterback under 5'10 (see: Science, Volume 1, Edition 1, Page 1), Murray was now legally allowed to continue marketing himself as an NFL QB and play the position for the Arizona Cardinals. As such, they should have no barriers at all between their franchise and a win in Super Bowl 54.
Or do they?
Conspiracy theories abound about Kyler Murray and his inflatable heel inserts in Indianapolis -- and who can trust the shadowy, behind-closed-doors measurement process. Who knows if we were even at sea level?!
Further questions rumbled as Kyler Murray stood next to another short person in teammate Marquise Brown, prompting demands from the public about the angle of incidence from the photographer's crow's nest to the crowd below; and a significant spike in the Googling of the fragment "depth of field make look taller?"
Fortunately, the Cardinals will win Super Bowl 54 because QB height doesn't affect Super Bowl win chances at all, you illustrious and fervent windbags.
How The Cardinals Won Super Bowl 54
On a diving Kyler Murray touchdown, in which he ends up perfectly horizontal to the field and exactly parallel to the sideline. This famous photo is later dubbed "The 5'9" because you can actually measure Kyler Murray on the hashmarks, and it turns out he is 5-foot-9.
How many universes does this happen in?
3 out of 1000.
How does it all go wrong?
Kliff Kingsbury gives a bad sound byte after a Week 4 loss along the lines of "Defense is for the weak, I'm here to break the point-scoring record." Defensive coordinator...who is their defensive coordinator? Vance Joseph? Goodness...Vance Joseph responds with "Then why did you run Baker Mayfield out of town?" during a Tuesday news hit. Owner Michael Bidwill is asked about the toxic rivalry on the coaching staff, and in his answer, announces contract extensions for both.