That game last Sunday against the Seahawks was a treat. The Arizona Cardinals entered their bye week at 5-2 and in a great spot for their playoff chances this year. We wanted to take a moment to reflect at the almost halfway point of the season to see what the advanced analytics say about the Cardinals
Through seven games DeAndre Hopkins is the #4 rated WR per PFF. Other immpressive numbers from this season so far:
- first in receptions
- second in reception %
- first in receiving yards
- first in 1st down catches
- ninth in contested catch rate
- sixth in yards/route run.
If we compare this year so far to his past seasons his yards/reception are lower than his historical average (12.4 vs 13.4). His TD totals have also been extremely low with only three so far this year. Those who have followed him so far in his career can tell the Cardinals are using differently than years past, with a larger emphasis with shorter passes, which has helped him be on pace to smash his career YAC in a season. Lastly, an extremely encouraging metric is that his reception percentage of 81.4% is a full 10 points higher than his best year ever (2018).
Some readers will say that I picked two obvious standouts for the article, yes, but they have both been so much better than most fans expected coming into the season. Budda Baker became the highest paid safety this past offseason, to the humour of football fans across the league. This year he has blown up, and has had two stellar performance in back to back weeks in primetime games. The secret is out, here is how he is faring this year:
- second in tackles amongst safeties, eighth across all defenders
- fourth ranked safety per PFF
- two sacks, two interception
- has only been penalized once.
Budda has been used all over the field this year with 106 snaps in non traditional safety positions, and the second most pass rushing snaps of all safeties. He has also been the cause of one of this seasons most popular memes, which can’t be ignored.
Good teams don’t require rookies to come in and contribute right away. And the team traded away their second round pick for Hopkins. With that being said this is turning out to be the least contributing rookie class of the Steve Keim era. Fans have been clamoring for Isaiah Simmons all season, which has been completely unnecessary as the reason he’s seen so few snaps has been due to above average play from our ILB starters Jordan Hicks and De’Vondre Campbell who are the 28th and 31st ranked linebackers in the league per PFF. Campbell especially has the eighth best tackling grade amongst all linebackers. Even so, Simmons has had some exposure and came up with a massive play with the OT pick last week, so it is yet to be determined how an expanded role would look like for him. The rest of the rookies though have yet to make much of an impact
|Isaiah Simmons (1st)||83||7 tackles, 1 int, PFF grade of 60, PFF tackling grade of 80 (very good!). His lack of impact this year has been greatly exaggerated|
|Josh Jones (3rd)||25||He will get his chance to be the RT of the future eventually|
|Leki Fotu (4th)||131||3 pressures, 4 tackles, PFF grade of 47|
|Rashard Lawrence (4th)||83||2 pressures, 2 tackles, PFF grade of 42.8|
|Evan Weaver (6th)||0||Spent the year on the practice squad|
|Eno Benjamin (7th)||0||Eno Benjamin has yet to be active on game day, but there is a change that changes this week with Kenyan out at least this Sunday|
- Kenyan Drake hit the third fastest ball carrier speed this season on his 69 yard touchdown against the Cowboys
- The Cardinals are fourth in “power” run success, which is defined by converting a 3rd or 4th down with two yards or less to go
- The offense is first in yards/game but eighth in points/game and 10th in offensive DVOA (defense-adjusted offensive efficiency)
- The defense is seventh in third down defense, 24th in run defense
- The team is 24th in time of possession
- The offense has had the third worst starting field position in the league
- They have only lost two fumbles all year and are tied for ninth in offensive turnovers