What a difference mid season makes if you’re a Cardinals fan. The number of times Trey McBride was targeted in the initial five games of the season was a mere 10, indicating a slow start that is unlikely to result in any record-breaking achievements.
But, following 13 games, the tight end may not have been giving much thought to the fact that he had matched the franchise record for the highest number of receptions in a season for his position – a total of 56. With four games still to be played, he had the chance to surpass this milestone.
Taking the Record in Stride
While acknowledging the positive aspect, McBride made it clear that his attention was not directed towards it. His sole concentration was on his task of catching the ball, completely oblivious to the existence of the mentioned concept. McBride’s sole intention was to diligently perform his duties and fulfill his role.
The tight end position has historically been overlooked by the Cardinals. Regardless of the team’s roster, coaching staff, or offensive strategy, this position has not been given much importance in the passing game. However, McBride has already accumulated an impressive 610 receiving yards this season.
This surpasses the record for any Cardinals tight end in franchise history, except for the legendary Hall-of-Famer Jackie Smith. Additionally, McBride’s performance also exceeds that of any other tight end since the team relocated to Arizona in 1988.
Catching into History
The Arizona Cardinals have seen only six tight ends achieve the feat of recording at least 35 catches in a single season. These notable players include Jermaine Gresham, Jay Novacek, Rob Housler, Rob Awalt, Freddie Jones, and Zach Ertz. Dallas Cowboys from the 90s have fond memories of Jay Novacek making clutch catches helping Dallas win three Super Bowls.
Even though the Cardinals have been a major bust at 3-10, McBride’s play, especially after the slow start has boosted his stock and profile among the Cardinals faithful and at premier sports betting sites like DraftKings sportsbook. And now that McBride is officially in the same class as a Jay Novacek, his stock will only continue to improve.
Following his trade in 2021, Ertz swiftly made an impact by amassing 56 catches in only 11 games, thus joining Smith and McBride in sharing the record – until McBride’s next reception. The fact that McBride matched the record in the game following Ertz’s departure was fitting.
Building up to the Record
The decision for Ertz and the Cardinals to part ways was primarily due to McBride’s emergence since being drafted in the second round in 2022. Coach Jonathan Gannon stated that the Cardinals were content with their tight end group, which justified their choice to let go of Ertz.
This was further highlighted in the Steelers’ game, where out of quarterback Kyler Murray’s 13 completions, 11 were directed towards tight ends (8 to McBride, 2 to Geoff Swaim, 1 to Elijah Higgins), a ratio that had never been witnessed in the franchise.
Higgins, a rookie at Stanford, has been playing as a wide receiver but is now making the transition to the tight end position. He has displayed his talent for making crucial catches. Additionally, the Cardinals have another undrafted rookie tight end, Blake Whiteheart, on their roster, and Bernhard Seikovits, an international player, is currently part of the practice squad.