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Christian Kirk and the “new” passing game

Posted by Darren Urban on May 8, 2018 – 10:41 am

The idea is that Christian Kirk, as a second-round pick, will be able to step in and make an impact as a receiver right away. Beyond Larry Fitzgerald, there is certainly an opening at the position. There is a lot to sort out, of course — what might the role of J.J. Nelson and Chad Williams be going forward, how much more might tight end Ricky Seals-Jones be used, will running back David Johnson slide right back in as the second-leading pass-catcher like he was in 2016. Offensive coordinator Mike McCoy is just now building out what he might want to do. That will take some time.

As polished as Kirk might be at this point, coming in and doing big things right away as a rookie receiver can be difficult. You need opportunity as well as skill. You also need to figure out just what the expectations would be for “making an impact.” Last year, Rams third-round pick Cooper Kupp made an impact, even if his numbers wouldn’t necessarily make him an obvious Pro Bowl candidate (62-859-5). Former third-round Cardinals pick John Brown did the same in 2014 (48-696-5). If Kirk could replicate either of those seasons, I’d guess the Cardinals would be pretty happy.

A look at every receiver drafted over the last three years by pick 47 (Kirk’s spot) or earlier finds plenty of lost rookie campaigns. Using Smokey Brown as a potential benchmark, of the 19 wideouts taken at 47 or higher, only three (Sterling Shepard, NYG, 2016; Michael Thomas, New Orleans 2016; Amari Cooper, Oakland, 2015) had as many catches as Brown as a rookie (65, 92, 72, respectively.) Only two, Thomas and Cooper, had as many yards as Brown (1,137 for Thomas, 1,070 for Cooper.) The same trio were the only ones to reach the five touchdowns of Brown (Sterling 8, Thomas 9, Cooper 6).

That’s 16 wide receivers that didn’t do a ton as a rookie (Houston’s Will Fuller did go 47-635-2 in 2016, so he was close). Again, when looking to see what Kirk might be able to have, recent perspective counts.


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31 Responses to “Christian Kirk and the “new” passing game”

  1. By Coach K on May 8, 2018 | Reply

    Kirk appears to be far more advanced for his age. I see him having a huge impact quickly.

    Cal it the “it factor”

    He just got it.

  2. By Eric G on May 8, 2018 | Reply

    Let’s just hope this team spreads the ball around better under McCoy. I want to see more TE involvement in the passing game. Look at all the great teams and they all use the TE. The Cards, for whatever reason, just never have in the 30 years I’ve been watching them. I don’t know why. Kirk will only have an impact if the ball gets spread around better.

    BTW, I love watching the video of him getting picked and announcing that he’s a Cardinal.

  3. By Kataklysmos on May 8, 2018 | Reply

    In no way am I saying he is next OBJ, but… if he could even be remotely close to that! …

    OBJ Year 1: 12 games, 91 catches 1305 yards 12 TDs

    Would be nice!

  4. By JTDG on May 8, 2018 | Reply

    Darren,

    I agree that fans need to slow down a little with expectations when it comes to Kirk ( or any rookie for that matter) .

    But what you found last year was, the great route runners in college made impacts as rookies. JuJu Smith Schuester and Cooper Cupp were drafted not because they were 4.3 guys, they were drafted because they possessed the ability to read defenses and run precision routes.

    This is the advantage Christian Kirk has. Both Kirk and Calvin Ridley came into this draft as the best route runners. I would look for both to have impacts as rookies.

    Now what that looks like, well we will see.
    I could see Ridley doing what JuJu did (58 catches , 917 yards , 7 TDs)
    and Kirk doing what Cupp did ( as noted above in your article)

    The added bonus is the impact Kirk could have on punt returns. Think Steve Breaston in 2007.

  5. By Dr. G. on May 8, 2018 | Reply

    Kirk may be our steal of the draft. 5’11” 200+ is a medium size fire plug. And after much reading on him, it’s all super positives regarding work ethic, smarts, and physical agility work. A stellar college career does not always convert to NFL success, but for all the Pros who evaluate him, he’s the real deal.

    He will have little personal assimilation to set up a place to live in that he grew up in the Phoenix area…a quick trip to IKEA for a few things and a barbeque grill, and he’s back to concentrating on his new NFL job. Nothing but football to worry about.

    Kirk’s prior success ~ as RB, WR, PR, KR… I’ll title him “”Card’s Swiss Army Knife.”” Coaches gotta take care not to burn him out. Love this kid ((Man))

  6. By Dr. G. on May 8, 2018 | Reply

    Nope! Not slowing down on Kirk, Our Swiss Army Knife…one of Keim’s best picks in recent years. Nope!

  7. By Richard S on May 8, 2018 | Reply

    I remember Q being our 3rd draft pick going in the 2nd round behind two first round picks, one of whom was a wide receiver and who can forget Q’s first game, over 200 yards was it?

  8. By Darren Urban on May 8, 2018 | Reply

    Richard S —

    RE: Boldin

    Yes, Anquan was an excellent pickup, and much better than Bryant Johnson (or Calvin Pace, for that matter.)

  9. By NYCardinals on May 8, 2018 | Reply

    Dr G

    As an aside, IKEA is never a “quick trip”. Its an all day thing, and then you have to spend the next few days assembling what you bought. I’m afraid he’ll sprain his wrist turning the crappy little Allen keys.

  10. By JTDG on May 8, 2018 | Reply

    Richard S and Darren;

    Oh, you bring up such a sore spot in cards history.

    Yep, the cards made that great pick of Boldin after taking Pace and Bryant Johnson in the 2003 first round.

    But the reason they had two picks is because they traded down with the Saints. Had they stayed, they could have (and should have) taken Terrell Suggs, the ASU stud every fan wanted.

    Suggs in round one and Boldin in round 2 would have been one of the cards best drafts.

  11. By Darren Urban on May 9, 2018 | Reply

    JTDG —

    RE: “they could have (and should have) taken Terrell Suggs, the ASU stud every fan wanted.”

    And who, unlike some others in those days, actually wanted to be a Cardinal.

  12. By creditcard on May 8, 2018 | Reply

    Christian Kirk, Chad Williams, Chase Edmonds (RB that can be used in the slot).The Cards have a couple of pieces at catching the ball in the future. All three of those guys mentioned have different skill sets. I also like the TE from Weber St., Vollert.

    These young men have arguably one of the best WR to ever play the game, to learn from in Larry Fitz. Pieces are coming together. It may take awhile in the NFl, for these guys to gain footing, but I think it will happen.

  13. By hawkkiller on May 8, 2018 | Reply

    WR Christian Kirk is an exceptional WR, I think he is going to step right in as that #2 WR especially in this offense that relies a lot on the short to intermediate routes, Kirk is an absolute killer running short-intermediate between the numbers. Larry Fitzgerald is still an Elite WR in this league, All-Pro RB-WR David Johnson will definitely be used a ton in the passing game as you just have to get a guy that talented his touch’s. I think the back they just drafted RB-WR Chase Edmonds will a considerable a touch’s both as a runner-receiver behind David Johnson including used on the field at the same time as Johnson. Then Arizona has excellent #3s/#4s type WR’s in 6″3/220pd WR Brice Butler who possess 4.34spd and will finally be given a big role in an offense & 5″11/175pd JJ Nelson has proven to be a good deep speedster type behind him with that 4.27 speed Nelson has. The big wild-card will be 2nd year WR 6″2-205pd Chad Williams who possesses 4.37 40 speed, I think he is going to take a big step forward this year and work his way on the outside as a outside X or Z type flanker WR, after working on his skills with Ocho all off-season I think he takes a big step forward in year 2. The offensive line will be light years better than what it was last year to so long as their starting 5 stays healthy with the upgrades made and they have some solid depth as well, Arizona will have 4 1st Round-Picks starting up front this season.

    This offense is going to be much better this year, especially with a much better far deeper QB Room. I wouldnt be surprised if Rosen starts out of the game, but I dont think we will see him till around week 6. Either way if its Bradford or Rosen this offense is going to be far more explosive this year with all of their play makers back healthy and two very capable good starting QB’s on the roster.

  14. By Dr. G. on May 9, 2018 | Reply

    NYCards – – Touché …daily humor is therapeutic. Be well.

  15. By Dr. G. on May 9, 2018 | Reply

    Yeah, Suggs.…ugh! I was one also calling for him. But Boldin was a great pick….ROY if I recall…like a FB after he caught the ball…still have his bobble head they gave out for season ticket holders. Hated to see him go.

  16. By JTDG on May 9, 2018 | Reply

    Darren,

    Yeah , that hurts even more.

    Do you think Suggs coming off the edge in the super bowl would have helped a little bit on that last drive by Big Ben?

    Missing on the draft can kill you

  17. By Darren Urban on May 9, 2018 | Reply

    JTDG —

    RE: Suggs

    It would have yes, but 2003 to 2008 is a long time. We don’t know how that career would’ve turned out, or if it would’ve changed history — the butterfly effect and all that.

  18. By JTDG on May 9, 2018 | Reply

    Darren,

    Ahhh the Butterfly Effect. Interesting concept. Alternative endings because of alternative actions.

    Someone ‘s alarm doesn’t go off and they end up missing the plane they needed to be on, only to watch it crash.

    The cards pass on Suggs, sending him to the Ravens where he emerges as a star. Had he been picked by the cards, who knows.

    Kind of like, if Keim would have addressed the oline in 2017, David Johnson and Carsen Palmer wouldn’t have been injured. If he got a CB2, those early TDs and loses don’t happen, and the cards knock off the Eagles on the way to beating the Pats in the Super Bowl.
    BA retires as a Super Bowl head coach and Palmer finally get his SB.

    Of Course, if the Chiefs are unable to trade up for Mahomes, the Chiefs don’t get him and then, keep nick Foles, causing the Eagles to crash and burn when Wentz went down.

    Or if BA retired in 2017, which was discussed and Keim hired Sean McVey , like he thought of, instead of the Rams, then Goff struggles and is considered a bust, while the cards have a completely different approach in 2017.

    Yes, the Butterfly Effect is interesting.

  19. By Darren Urban on May 9, 2018 | Reply

    JTDG —

    RE: Butterfly

    Great part about the butterfly, you don’t know what would’ve happened.

    And while I appreciate you trying to again make your desires known through this way, you don’t know what would’ve happened. (And I find it interesting you blame the David Johnson and Palmer injuries in 2017 on the line, when neither were because of the line. Johnson gets hurt on a catch, Palmer is hurt by a blitzer that should’ve been picked up by a back.)

  20. By Patrick on May 9, 2018 | Reply

    And “If he got a CB2, those early TDs and loses don’t happen”
    He (Keim) did get a cb2 as Tramon Williams was on the roster the whole year.

  21. By JTDG on May 10, 2018 | Reply

    Darren,

    and you can’t say if there was a better line they don’t get hurt.. Plays calls could be different, situations in the game could be different. The score could be different causing changes in the line up. maybe the passing game is better, pushing the ball down the field because Palmer has more time.

    There really isn’t any way you can truly dispute that a line could have prevented the injuries, because (the Butterfly Effect) changes could/ and do effect outcomes. Even the smallest ones

    That’s the funny thing about the concept. Nothing can be disproven, because you have no idea the true effects the changes would have.

    What I can say for sure is, when Keim did not sign/ draft a line, the cards lost their RB and QB regardless of how it happened. Whether changes to the line would have made a difference is something we can’t know.

  22. By Darren Urban on May 10, 2018 | Reply

    JTDG —

    RE: Line

    But you went a long way to blame the (lack of) line again. Using that particular logic, you can say if they had never fired Ken Whisenhunt, Palmer and Johnson might not have gotten hurt either. For something that can’t be known, you’re being awfully specific.

  23. By JTDG on May 10, 2018 | Reply

    Patrick,

    So those early loses were BAs/ Betchler’s fault?

    What the subject is about , is the Butterfly Effect.

    Again, if Tramon was out there, there is no way to know if he would have prevented the 3 forth quarter Tds in the first 3 games.

    What I do know is, the decision to go with Bethel, there were 3 forth quarter TDs and they did lose the games and they did have an 8-8 record instead of a 10-6 record had they won the two early games.

    That is all we can know.

  24. By JTDG on May 10, 2018 | Reply

    Darren,

    So your saying we should have kept Whisenhunt . 🙂

    Actually, the concept of alternative universes formed on decisions we make is very interesting.

    If someone gets fired from a job, then he got a new one in which he meets his wife and their child finds a cure for cancer. But if he doesn’t lose his job, he doesn’t meet his wife and those kids aren’t born. Two completely different universes based on one decision.

    Who knows what effects decisions make. All I can do is look at the effects of the decisions that were made.

    I can see the decision to not fix the line in 2016 and 2017 lead to Palmer being the most hit QB in the NFL. I can see that not finding a WR 2 lead to Palmer not having options to throw to and holding the ball longer.

    I think we can agree with that. Whether fixing these issues would have prevented the injuries is an unknown. but they did get injured when these were the choices. Would they have been injured if the changes were made can not be determined.

    The other line of thought is things will turn out the same no matter what. I call it the Jonah and the Whale concept. Jonah decided not to preach in Ninivah. He left, but after a series of events, he ended right back where he started.

    The thought is, that if Suggs would have been drafted by the cards, he still would have been a star. If the cards signed 10 olineman, Palmer still gets injured, and that man in the story still meets his wife, even if he doesn’t get fired.

    It just depends on your believe of how decisions shape the world around us.

    I guess I can make the leap, because I don’t believe Palmer would have been hurt anyway. I believe that if circumstances were different, he might not of been hurt. Knowing the line was very bad, one can make the conclusion that if he had a better line, the games would have went differently. If the games went differently, plays and events might be different. One can only wonder, does that lead to Palmer and DJ not being injured?

  25. By Darren Urban on May 10, 2018 | Reply

    JTDG —

    RE: Suggs/star

    It’s funny you bring that up. There have been plenty of people in the past who suggested the opposite — that coming in to a hard situation would’ve prevented stardom (think Hearst or Thomas Jones.)

  26. By JTDG on May 11, 2018 | Reply

    Darren,

    Suggs;

    I can see that point because Suggs went to a team with guys like Ed Reed and Ray Lewis who pushed into becoming a great player. I’m not sure the cards had that guy in 2003.

    I think the two examples you use, both running backs, are interesting. While Thomas Jones had no blocking and didn’t hit the line hard, Garrison Hearst problem was injury. When Hearst was healthy in 1995, he ran for a 1000 yards.

    But see you had to bring up Thomas Jones. My first year of really getting upset for the cards draft. I still to this day can’t understand Thomas Jones over Brian Urlacker.

    Which puts us right back in the same spot. Does Urlacker, Suggs or AP have success in the same way they did for their respected teams if they are on the cards?

    We will never know but I still would have liked to find out.

  27. By Dan Nicholson on May 12, 2018 | Reply

    I still wonder to this day if Cards had not drafted JJ Arrington in 2nd round year before AP came out would they have picked Peterson instead of Levi. Memory serves me correctly, cards signed Oliver Ross from Steelers for RT and he tore his triceps before draft. Not many teams teams would have stopped that offense with Warner, James, AP, Boldin, Fits, Breaston,Hightower, & Patrick was serviceable at TE. Cards very well could have won a super bowl or more……

  28. By Dan Nicholson on May 12, 2018 | Reply

    Of course, the sidebar to having all of that talent is the salary cap would have been wiped out . I just remembered what happened that brutal off-season exodus of really good players

  29. By clssylssy on May 12, 2018 | Reply

    Christian Kirk has been compared to Anquan Boldin, and if he can live up to that kind of comparison, wouldn’t that be like lighting strikine our receiving corps twice? (In a VERY good way)
    While I am reluctant to curse young players with this kind of comparison and media hype, he certainly comes into the league ahead of the normal rookie pack, gifted with his early history with Cardinal royalty like Kurt Warner, Larry Fitz, as well as, a pre-existing association with Josh Rosen. As you pointed out, rookie receivers haven’t really lived up to their hype with sustainable early success b/c of an inability to stay healthy., Hopefully, Kirk will be able to learn important lessons about taking personal responsibility for maintaining a healthy body from Fitz, leading to the same longevity and a success as a professional. Our improved 0-line will give him an advantage John Brown never had, and with Mike McCoy’s offense, I think he will be an exception. I have been extremely impressed with what McCoy did (along with Ken Whisenhunt) in San Diego, making the Charger offense #5 in the NFL (ahead of any of the teams in the NFC West), and have the feeling that is more what our offense will look like when the final product takes the field. I know he recognizes the value of a good TE, and love going back to the use of a legit FB/HB.
    So far, so good. All reports coming out of rookie camp and early press conferences with Josh Rosen have been very impressive, and I’m still pinching myself in disbelief that we were able to land such an impressive young QB.
    Now, if our defense can keep up it’s end minus all of our lost talent and existing holes…

  30. By JTDG on May 12, 2018 | Reply

    Dan,

    I think the signing of Edge James in 2006 had more to do with not drafting AP than JJ Arrington.

    Edge ran for 1150 yards and caught 35-40 passes in 2006. While JJ had less than 20 rushing yards in 2006.

    I think another factor was AP had injury concerns coming into the draft.

    Frankly, If I could do a draft redo, I would have taken Darrelle Revis. Not at the time, but looking in hindsight.

    Going into 2008 super bowl with Revis and DRC, we win the game. Holmes is not open on Revis Island.

    But talking about redo’s , how about round 2 in 2007, taking Alan Branch instead of Lamar Woodley? Man, with Woodley off the edge and Revis on Holmes, yes it is an easy Super bowl.

    Which leads us back to the original thought Darren had; Would Revis be Revis with the cards and Woodley be Woodley?

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