This offseason has been atrocious for the Arizona Cardinals. Through all the trials and tribulations of signing their franchise quarterback to an extension and making sure he doesn’t play video games all day every day, you’d think the Cards and Kyler Murray would finally be happy with where they’re at. That doesn’t seem to be the case though. Apparently, Murray doesn’t respect head coach Kliff Kingsbury.
I mean, I don’t blame him necessarily. Kingsbury isn’t the greatest coach in the world, but Murray openly expresses his discontent with his play-caller regularly. According to reports, during the Cardinals’ training camp, the quarterback and coach butted heads constantly. If Kingsbury would call a play that Murray didn’t like, Murray would shake his head in disapproval. In response, Kingsbury had Murray call plays in practice and while Kingsbury claimed that Murray did a fine job calling plays, he did add that “I would not want to play for Kyler Murray if I was a quarterback and he was the coach.”
Murray must have thought that he did a pretty damn good job too, because his play-calling days didn’t end in training camp. They carried over into the preseason. Murray was given the opportunity to call plays for the team during the fourth quarter of their preseason opener against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Why would the Cardinals do this? The only reason I can think of is that Kingsbury and Murray continued to butt heads and Kingsbury had to show just how ass Murray’s play-calling would be against real competition. And ass it was.
Prior to the fourth quarter, the Cardinals had scored 36 points. They had eight full drives, six of which ended in point, and had even scored touchdowns on three consecutive full drives before Murray took over. Fair to say that the momentum was in their favor. Murray called plays for three drives (two full — the third drive was just two kneel downs to end the game). In those two full drives, the Murray-orchestrated offense amassed two three-and-outs and zero yards. Remarkable.
“Well, that’s because Murray was working with the worst players on the Cardinals’ roster!” shouts the adamant Murray defender. Yes, but those fourth-stringers were also lining up against the Bengals’ fourth-stringers. You could argue that Murray’s play calls would’ve resulted in better outcomes with more talented players, but all we can judge Murray on is what we saw, and it was ugly.
What’s even uglier is that there were only three plays that resulted in positive yardage. Two of them were run plays for 8 and 5 yards respectively. Only one pass went for positive yardage, Murray’s first play call. It generated a dazzling 2 yards.
Blame the quarterback Jarrett Guarantano all you want, but sometimes the blame lies on the head coach. Maybe if Guarantano avoided that delay of game penalty on third and 2, the Cardinals could’ve picked up a first down on one of Murray’s drives. After all, they did pick up 5 yards after getting moved back. However, it’s obvious that the opposing defense would’ve played a third and 2 differently from how they played that third and 7.
Murray’s preseason coaching debut is just another example of how chaotic and messy this offseason has been for the Cardinals. We’ve seen teams overcome these “distractions” before to wind up making the playoffs — look no further than the Las Vegas Raiders last year. However, the Raiders are an outlier and not the type of organization other franchises should mimic. Things aren’t looking smooth for the Red Birds as we march toward the regular season, and at this rate, they’ll be lucky to be a .500 squad come season’s end.