Murray-Kingsbury era begins as Cardinals host Lions

The Arizona Cardinals' grand Air Raid experiment begins Sunday, when rookie head coach Kliff Kingsbury and Heisman Trophy winning-quarterback Kyler Murray debut for a team looking to redefine an offense that was last in the NFL last season in yards and points.

The visiting Detroit Lions moved to help their production with a less splashy hire, bringing in veteran offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell.

With Kingsbury and Murray comes a four-wideout, limited-huddle, shotgun-oriented attack that is designed to create space for athletic playmakers, including the dual-threat Murray, by stretching the field horizontally and vertically.

"If I wrote ‘wow' one hundred times, that was probably not enough," Cardinals general manager Steve Keim said on the college tape he saw of Murray before making him the first pick in the 2019 draft.

"In today's day and age, you have to be able to extend with your feet and make plays out of the pocket. Now we have a guy who can be a weapon with his feet and his arm."

Running back David Johnson, Hall of Famer-in-waiting wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald and second-year wideout Christian Kirk are expected to help Murray energize an offense that was last in the league in yards gained (241.6 per game) and points (14.1) under first-year coach Steve Wilks, who was fired the day after a 4-12 regular season ended.

Although Kingsbury's particular version of the open-field attack is new to the NFL, Johnson believes big things are coming. He had 2,118 yards from scrimmage in 2016, before a wrist injury and a stagnant offense limited his effectiveness the last two years.

"I definitely hope that a thousand/thousand is reachable," Johnson said of gaining 1,000 yards both rushing and receiving, "and that's always going to be my goal, with the team coming first."

That is a high bar. San Francisco's Roger Craig in 1985 and St. Louis' Marshall Faulk in 1999 are the only two running backs in league history with a double grand.

Lions coach Matt Patricia added former Minnesota and Seattle offensive coordinator Bevell to replace Jim Bob Cooter after the Lions went 6-10 and were 24th in total offense (327.3) and 25th in points (20.3) last season.

Detroit quarterback Matt Stafford will begin his 11th NFL season after career-lows in yards (3,777) and touchdowns (21) as a full-time starter. Halfback Kerryon Johnson and wide receivers Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones are his primary threats, and the Lions also plan to use the tight end more after making T.J. Hockenson the eighth pick in the first round of the 2019 draft.

"Every year I'm trying to be a better player than I was the year before, and this year is no different," Stafford told the team's website. "I put a lot of pressure on myself to go play better and help this team win."

Rush ends Chandler Jones and Terrell Suggs will bookend a Cardinals' defense that was vulnerable to the run last season. Jones had 13 sacks a year ago, and free agent Suggs had seven sacks in his 16th season in Baltimore.

Defensive tackle Damon "Snacks" Harrison, who helped revive the Lions' defense after being acquired from the Giants last season, will be with the team through 2021 after signing an extension in the offseason.

Cardinals cornerback Robert Alford (fractured tibia) is out fir Arizona, and Pro Bowl cornerback Patrick Peterson will begin his six-game suspension for violating the league's policy on performance enhancing drugs, leaving the secondary thin and inexperienced.

Detroit middle linebacker Jarrad Davis (knee) and defensive end Trey Flowers (shoulder) were limited in practice Wednesday. Their status for the game is uncertain, but center Frank Ragnow (ankle) is expected to play.

--Field Level Media