D.J. Humphries is an optimist at heart, so the Cardinals’ left tackle bought in to the Air Raid the moment Kliff Kingsbury was hired.
It’s a good thing his coach is more of a realist.
Kingsbury was smart enough to see his pass-happy style wasn’t working early in his NFL tenure, and the shift to more balanced football was one of the most significant developments of the 2019 season.
The decision by Kingsbury to change his scheme midseason garnered respect from his players for two reasons:
1) The more run-focused attack played to the team’s strengths.
2) Kingsbury proved he was not too stubborn to ditch a fruitless idea.
“A lot of people – especially coaches in general – like to make it feel like, ‘I know it all (and) I can’t let anyone know I don’t,’” Humphries said.
Kingsbury was never that.
Even during the peak of Air Raid-mania in the offseason and training camp, Kingsbury always said the offense would evolve based on personnel, and there was no better example than the ascension of Maxx Williams.
The veteran tight end signed with little fanfare in May, and not only made the team, but barged his way into a major role. Williams finished with the top offensive grade on the team in 2019, per Pro Football Focus, contributing both as a receiver and a blocker.
“I said it from the start: Our roles were going to be whatever we wanted it to be,” said Williams, who signed a two-year contract extension in November. “We were going to come here every day and work. All of us tight ends who were here this year, that’s all we wanted to do, was come here and play. We got our chance, and did whatever we could to help.”