It's easy to make fun of a bottom-dwelling franchise, and sure, with only six winning seasons since moving to the desert in 1988, the Arizona nee Phoenix, nee St. Louis, nee Chicago Cardinals (I tried doing the accent but Weebly can't handle it) certainly fall into that category, but that's not what this blog is about.
With a quarterback as dynamic as Kyler Murray, the Cardinals have a future so bright that Timbuk 3 might write a song about it, but their recent win over the Minnesota Vikings brought a truly shocking stat to the forefront.
Again, the Arizona Cardinals have only six winning seasons since moving to Arizona in 1988. If I wanted to be a real dick, I could mention how their last winning season in St. Louis came in 1984 when they went 9-7 and missed the playoffs; so it's actually six winning seasons since 1985 (which was 36 years ago....CC: Chicago Bears), but there's no reason to kick a franchise when its down....especially when the Cardinals are soaring!
What the Cardinals have lacked in "victories" they've more than made up with upper elechon pass-catchers, at least since I started following football.
David Boston had two great seasons for the Cardinals in 2000 and 2001. Of course, there's the future HOFer, NFL 100 All-Time Teamer Larry Fitzgerald, who, with the help of Anquan Boldin (2003 Offensive Rookie of the Year), caught the 2008 Cardinals all the way to the Super Bowl. People may forget that that team had a third 1,000-yard receiver in Steve Breaston. The 2015 Cardinals featured Michael Floyd and John Brown, both had a 1000 yard season in Arizona ('13 for Floyd, '15 for Brown). Currently, the Cardinals have one of the deepest WR cores in the NFL, highlighted by DeAndre Hopkins.
The thing is, all those pass-catchers were wide receivers. On Sunday, Cardinals TE Maxx Williams had 94 yards on seven receptions (good for 12.9 in half-point PPR league), which brought attention to a genuinely jaw-dropping stat about this vagabond franchise. It's been a WHILE since a Cardinal TE recorded a 100-yard game. What's a while, you might ask? Well, the Arizona Cardinals haven't had a TE break the century mark in receiving yards in a single game since November 12th, 1989, when Rob Awalt had six receptions for 105 yards in a 24-20 win over the Cowboys (who went 1-15 in 1989).
For a historical comparison, the Berlin Wall fell on November 9th, 1989. So that Thursday, the Iron Curtain started to open, then on Sunday, the most recent 100-yard performance for an Arizona Cardinal TE took place.
While the collapse of a communist regime is one thing, I think the Texans caveat makes this stat even more shocking (an actual "WTF stat" indeed!). It's not like the Cardinals are one of---- let's say, six teams that have gone 20+ years without a 100-yard game by a tight end. Nope, they're the only team in NFL that can claim they've seen the 90s, 2000s, 2010s, AND that lovely year, 2020, go by without a TE reaching triple digits. We're talking well over 500 games. With all the losing the Cardinals have done over the years how does this happen? There wasn't ONE tight end who fell into a 100-yard game by mistake?
Maxx Williams did not record 100 yards last week, but he did become the first Cardinals TE since Robert Awalt in 1989 to have a > 90-yard game. I still can't believe this is an actual, factual stat. That's three full decades and then some!
It gets even worse.
Only five tight ends have had over 80 yards in a single game for the Cardinals since 1989. There wasn't a single Cardinal TE with 80+ receiving yards in a game from Week 10 of the 1989 season to Week 11 of the 2012 season. No Cardinal TE had a game with over 80 yards during Brett Favre's entire career.
And yes, I know what you're thinking, "what about the playoffs, Dozie?" Well, unlike life for LGBTQ+ teens, according to a 2010 PSA, it does not get better.
Not to throw salt in a lack-of-tight-end-production-wound, but since 1989, including the playoffs, the Arizona Cardinals have only played TEN games where a tight end recorded 70 or more receiving yards. As the previous graphic will show you, these were all regular-season games. (S/O Rob Housler)
I'm sure you're curious because now I am too, and since I'm paying for this stathead membership, I might as well get some use out of it----since 1989, the most receiving yards a Cardinals TE recorded in a playoff gme is---42 yards. I know the Cardinals aren't exactly a perennial playoff team, but in 11 playoff games between 1998-2015, only three saw a TE even eclipse 30 receiving yards.
As a Patriots fan, I know how lucky I was to watch Gronk for parts of nine seasons, IMO he's the greatest TE ever to play the game, but I saw how gross an offense with no tight end production could be last year. This got me to thinking, am I being too hard on the Cardinals? Sure they haven't had even pedestrian single-game outputs from their TEs, but what about over the course of 16 games?
Well, I even went a year back before Dan Awalt's 105-yard game vs. the eventual 1-15 Cowboys to the Cardinals first year in Arizona. Since 1988, the Arizona/Phoenix Cardinals have only had seven tight ends finish a season with over a modest 400 receiving yards. Two of those seven tight ends played in 1988. So not to flex my math skills too hard, but only five tight ends have eclipsed 400 receiving yards for the Cardinals since 1989.
No Cardinal tight end has finished a season with over 600 receiving yards since Doug Marsh had 608 yards in 1984. He's literally the only person not named Jackie Smith to ever have over 600 receiving yards in a single season while playing TE for the Cardinals franchise.
I know the game has shifted to a much more pass-happy product over the last 15 years, but since 1989, there have been 268 instances of a tight end recording over 600 receiving yards in a single season. Zero have been Arizona Cardinals.
Ironically, a tight end named Ben Patrick scored one of the Cardinals three touchdowns in Super Bowl XLIII.
His final stat line in Super Bowl XLIII: One reception for one yard and one touchdown. Ben Patrick played for the Cardinals from 2007-2010 and retired with 45 receptions for 445 yards and four touchdowns, although, to be fair, he scored two playoff touchdowns.
I wouldn't say I like bringing negative attention to one of the lower-tier franchises in all sports, but these stats have blown my 29-year-old mind. You didn't think you'd get a whole blog without me shoehorning myself into the mix, did you? Well, yes, not only have the Cincinnati Bengals never won a playoff game at any point in time where I'm breathing; oh shit, I didn't mean to bring them into this, but I have never seen a Cardinal TE record a 100-yard game. I've seen the Cubs and Sox of the Red and White variety break decade upon decade upon decade title curses, but never a Cardinal TE break 100 yards in a single game.
With Kyler Murray having so many mouths to feed in that Cardinal offense, perhaps Maxx Williams or another TE on the roster could snap this seemingly impossible streak; with all the focus on the WRs, it could open up some favorable matchups. However, since Maxx Williams' 94-yard game is literally the most for Cardinals TE in over 30 years, I think it's fair to mention that while the stat sheet says he had seven targets, it was really six. Proper analytics would say Maxx Williams had seven receptions on six targets for 94 yards.
Say that play doesn't happen and Maxx Williams ends up with 34 fewer yards, leaving him with only 60 yards for the game, does WTFstats have a reason to bring up that stat? Who knows? Personally, I doubt it.
I'm having a tougher time thinking of a fitting conclusion for this blog than a Cardinals TE has breaking 100 yards, so I'll end with a little more information on this Rob Awalt (the Rob Gronkowski of Cardinal TEs) fellow.
Despite his 105 performance against the eventual 1-15 Dallas Cowboys, Rob Awalt ended his 1989 season with just 360 receiving yards and one interception??
Even though it happened as a Cowboy, Jackie Smith, one of the greatest players in Cardinals' history, was on the wrong end of one of the most famous drops in NFL history (even though Roger Staubach will say to this day it wasn't a great pass). Bless his heart!