Lions open season at Arizona
GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Ever since Arizona hired Kliff Kingsbury, there has been endless speculation about whether his version of the Air Raid offense would work against NFL defenses.
The 40-year-old coach is eager to show it off — and maybe even learn a little more about it himself — when the Cardinals host the Detroit Lions on Sunday.
“There’s only one way to find out,” Kingsbury said. “It’s never been used. Nobody really knows what we’re going to do or what it’s going to look like, so we’ll just take it one game at a time.”
Arizona, which finished a dismal 3-13 last season, rebuilt around No. 1 overall pick Kyler Murray, who will get his first start at quarterback. He’ll be surrounded by intriguing playmakers such as running back David Johnson and receivers Larry Fitzgerald and Christian Kirk.
Kingsbury says that concepts and certain portions of the Air Raid have already been introduced to the NFL, but he’s ready to give it a unique spin. Even so, he doesn’t think anything the Cardinals do will be particularly foreign to the Lions and second-year coach Matt Patricia.
“They have all summer to tweak and change and we’ve had the same,” Kingsbury said. “I think that’s been overblown a little bit, but it’s all kind of part of the gamesmanship.”
The 44-year-old Patricia led Detroit to a 6-10 record last season and is known for his defensive acumen. When asked to describe preparing for Murray, he acknowledged it was challenging.
“Interesting would be a good term,” Patricia said. “I would say ‘difficult’ would probably be the better term. He’s obviously a dynamic athlete, very strong arm, really just does a great job at making quick reads.”
Even though the Lions had a mediocre record last year, they were solid on defense, ranking 10th overall and eighth against the pass. They also have one of the league’s elite cornerbacks in Darius Slay.
Now they get their shot at stopping a rookie quarterback in his first game. If the Lions are confident they can stop Murray, they’re not overplaying their hand.
“The guy is the truth. He’s a complete package,” Lions defensive back Quandre Diggs said. “If he was 6-5, y’all would be talking about he’s the best quarterback prospect ever. He’s been a superstar since high school. His arm is tremendous.”