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With or without quarterback Kyler Murray, the Arizona Cardinals are a flawed team.
A 38-for-10 manhandling by the San Francisco 49ers in Mexico City on Monday showed one team on the rise and the other on the wrong track. Murray’s eventual return from a hamstring injury won’t save the season after his disappointing 4-7 record.
Cliff Kingsbury’s entire tenure as Cardinals head coach can be described as disappointing. not.
At Texas Tech, Kingsbury won 47% of his games. With Monday’s loss, the coach’s winning percentage in Arizona is…wait a minute…48% (rounded up).
Combined with some of the worst drafts in the league by general manager Steve Keim, owner Michael Bidwill should have reached a point where wiping the slate clean during the next offseason could be serious.
Arizona is now checked out and seems to be winning most of the time. Colt McCoy’s stunning win last week doesn’t change the fact that the Cardinals have been out of form for most of the season. Besides, the Los Angeles Rams are one of the few teams to have been an even bigger disaster.
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The team’s four victories have been against opponents with a combined record of 13-29. Aside from his impressive 7-0 start last season, the Cardinals have been mediocre to poor. Indeed, Kingsbury inherited the worst team in the league, but have shown no sustained improvement over the past four years. The opposite happened.
The regression began on October 28th thursday night football Meeting with the Green Bay Packers last year. From that point to today, the Cardinals have his 8-14 record.
A look at the roster shows how little talent Arizona really is. There appear to be four legitimate building blocks in place, including Murray. Wide receivers DeAndre Hopkins and Marquis Brown and safety Buddha Baker form the other pillars of the team.
The Cardinals signed the 25-year-old signal-caller to a five-year, $230.5 million contract extension this offseason, so questions and jokes about Murray and his commitment to playing quarterback at the NFL level make no sense. There is none. Technically, that part of his current contract hasn’t started yet. He is, and should be, a man with a foreseeable future.
Whether Murray is a movie junkie or not, no one should be blinded to the fact that he is a gifted, natural athlete who has been on the attack at some points throughout his career.
Explosive arm prowess combined with great evasiveness and special open-field mobility make him difficult to handle for enemy defense.The 2019 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year , has different abilities than players who play in most positions, and it shows.
Is Murray perfect? Far from it.
But the franchise relied on his natural talent in leagues where players with similar skill sets are more prevalent than ever. is the league outside the structure.
The fact that Kingsbury hasn’t made the most of his hand-picked quarterback after picking him No. 1 overall three years ago is largely due to him adapting the coach’s system to the tee. It says more about playcallers than it does because his disciple.
Of course, injuries also play a role. Murray missed three games last year with his ankle injury. The bigger issue, however, seemed to be growing dissatisfaction between the quarterback and the team’s Blaine confidence, based on how the team ended last season.
Perhaps Murray is as “selfish” and “immature” as ESPN. Chris Mortensen Broadcast in February. Infighting didn’t stop Bidwill from handing over the aforementioned megadeal.
In doing so, the choice became clear. If the Cardinals make any changes, it’s going to be on the staff, not the people behind the center.To build properly around Murray, Arizona must do a better job. Keem has done a miserable job of doing so.
Keem became the Cardinals general manager in 2013. Since then, he has Jonathan Cooper, Deon Bucannon, DJ Humphries, Robert Henkemdish, Herson Reddick, Josh Rosen, Murray, Isaiah Simmons and Zaven Collins in the first round. Wow. Tight end Trey McBride, this year’s top pick, has made little to no impact.
If this were the big leagues, the general manager’s batting average might not be bad. In the NFL, you can’t watch a team whiff in the first frame so many times that a lineup starts to fall apart.
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Hopkins is the only real threat in the passing game at this point. Since returning from a six-game suspension, the five-time Pro Bowl selection has racked up 487 yards and 45 receptions in five contests.
After missing the last five games with a foot injury, Brown will need more help once he’s fully back from the disabled list.
Murray and the players blocking his skill position players are also confused. Arizona has endured seven different starting offensive line combinations so far this year. The instability of the Trench was predictable based on the fact that Keem allowed the elderly group to participate this season without adding significant reinforcements.
Rodney Hudson, Justin Pugh and Kelvin Beecham Jr. are all 32+ this season. Two of the three are on the injured list, as is his one starting guard, Wil Hernandez.
A poorly constructed offensive set-up stalled any type of development expected by the coaching staff.
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On the other side of the ball, the Cardinals had no answers against the 49ers. San Francisco quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo looked good all season when he worked on his progression and extended several plays to make big gains. Christian McCaffrey and his running buddies also averaged 5.7 yards per carry.
JJ Watt may be famous, but he’s no longer the player he used to be. To be fair, the three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year he won set a standard impossible. Instead, Baker is the group’s tone-setter.
“Buddha demands that we all play at a certain level, probably higher than some coaches,” Collins said. athleticof Doug Haller.
Something has to change in the next few weeks. Heated pleas from Baker and the like only go so far. The Cardinals won’t have an edge in much of the rest of the game.
If Murray is ready to play, next week’s meeting with the Los Angeles Chargers should be seen as a toss-up.
The card could creep in one against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers or the Atlanta Falcons, but these two NFC South entrants have much more to offer as they battle for the divisional championship. Have to. Six wins or less is a good threshold for knowing it’s time.
Kingsbury’s approach did not work. Someone else leading the front office can make a big difference. As the face of the franchise, it’s up to Murray to answer the call of duty.
Brent Sobleski covers the NFL for Bleacher Report. follow him on twitter @Bren Sobreski.