Sean M. Haffey/Getty Pictures
With or with out quarterback Kyler Murray, the Arizona Cardinals are a flawed squad.
Monday’s 38-10 manhandling by the San Francisco 49ers in Mexico Metropolis confirmed one workforce on the rise with the opposite going within the mistaken course. Murray’s eventual return from a hamstring damage is not going to save lots of the season after a disappointing 4-7 document.
Kliff Kingsbury’s total tenure because the Cardinals’ head coach will be described as disappointing. Effectively, perhaps it isn’t—if anybody really paid consideration to how he carried out as a collegiate coach.
At Texas Tech, Kingsbury received 47 p.c of his video games. With Monday’s loss, the coach’s profitable proportion in Arizona is…look forward to it…48 p.c (when rounded up).
Mixed with a number of the league’s worst drafting from common supervisor Steve Keim, proprietor Michael Bidwill ought to have reached the purpose the place wiping the slate clear throughout the upcoming offseason is a severe chance.
Presently, Arizona seems to be checked out and outclassed in most cases. A stunning victory final week with Colt McCoy main the way in which does not change the actual fact the Cardinals have been principally unhealthy this season. In addition to, the Los Angeles Rams are one of many few groups who’ve been a good greater catastrophe.
AP Picture/Fernando Llano
The workforce’s 4 victories got here in opposition to opponents with a mixed document of 13-29. Apart from final season’s spectacular 7-0 begin, the Cardinals have been mediocre to poor. Granted, Kingsbury inherited the league’s worst squad, however sustainable enchancment has not been seen during the last 4 years. The alternative occurred.
Regression started throughout an Oct. 28 Thursday Evening Soccer assembly with the Inexperienced Bay Packers final yr. From that time to as we speak, the Cardinals personal an 8-14 document.
A take a look at the roster reveals how talentless Arizona really is. 4 legit constructing blocks seem like in place, beginning with Murray. Large receivers DeAndre Hopkins and Marquise Brown, in addition to security Budda Baker, type the workforce’s different pillars.
Questions and jokes about Murray and his dedication to enjoying quarterback on the NFL degree are moot as a result of the Cardinals signed the 25-year-old signal-caller to a five-year, $230.5 million contract extension this previous offseason. Technically, that a part of his present deal has but to even start. He is the man for the foreseeable future, and he ought to be.
Whether or not or not Murray is a movie junkie should not blind anybody to the actual fact he is a gifted pure athlete who’s carried the offense at factors all through his profession.
Explosive arm expertise coupled with superior escapability and particular open-field mobility make him tough to deal with for opposing defenses. The 2019 NFL Offensive Rookie of the 12 months is a unique caliber of athlete than most enjoying the place, and it reveals.
Is Murray excellent? Removed from it.
However the franchise banked on his pure presents in a league the place gamers with related ability units are extra prevalent than ever. The NFL is now a league the place probably the most injury is usually down outdoors of construction when a play is prolonged.
The very fact Kingsbury hasn’t gotten probably the most out of his hand-chosen quarterback after making him the No. 1 general decide three years in the past, primarily as a result of he supposedly match the coach’s system to a tee, says extra in regards to the play-caller than it does his protégé.
Accidents have performed a task, after all. Murray missed three video games final yr with an ankle damage. However the greater difficulty gave the impression to be the discontent that grew between the quarterback and workforce mind belief based mostly on how the squad completed final season.
Perhaps Murray is “self-centered” and “immature,” as ESPN’s Chris Mortensen relayed in February. The interior strife did not cease Bidwill from handing out the beforehand talked about mega-deal.
In doing so, the selection turned apparent. If the Cardinals are to make any adjustments, it’s going to be to the workers, not who’s behind middle. To correctly construct round Murray, Arizona should do a greater job. Keim has executed a woeful job of doing so.
Keim turned the Cardinals’ common supervisor in 2013. Since that time, he drafted Jonathan Cooper, Deone Bucannon, D.J. Humphries, Robert Nkemdiche, Haason Reddick, Josh Rosen, Murray, Isaiah Simmons and Zaven Collins within the first spherical. Yikes. This yr’s prime decide, tight finish Trey McBride, has made little to no impression.
The final supervisor’s batting common won’t be so unhealthy if this had been Main League Baseball. Within the NFL, a workforce cannot whiff that many occasions throughout the opening body and never see its lineup begin to crumble.
Sean M. Haffey/Getty Pictures
In the meanwhile, Hopkins is the one actual risk within the passing sport. Since getting back from a six-game suspension, the five-time Professional Bowl choice has snagged 45 receptions for 487 yards in 5 contests.
Additional assist ought to be forthcoming as soon as Brown is absolutely designated to return from injured reserve after lacking the final 5 video games with a foot damage.
These blocking for Murray and his ability place gamers are in disarray, too. Arizona has endured seven totally different beginning offensive line combos to this point this yr. The instability within the trenches was predictable based mostly on the actual fact Keim allowed an growing old group to enter this season with out including important reinforcements.
Rodney Hudson, Justin Pugh and Kelvin Beachum Jr. are all 32 or older this season. Two of the three are on injured reserve, as is one other beginning guard, Will Hernandez.
A poorly constructed offensive setup stagnated any sort of growth the teaching workers anticipated.
Christian Petersen/Getty Pictures
On the opposite aspect of the ball, the Cardinals did not have any solutions for the 49ers. San Francisco quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo seemed pretty much as good as he has all season when working by way of his progressions and even extending a number of performs that became huge gainers. Christian McCaffrey and his working mates additionally averaged 5.7 yards per carry.
J.J. Watt could also be a giant identify, however he is not the participant he as soon as was. To be honest, the three-time NFL Defensive Participant of the 12 months set an unimaginable normal. As a substitute, Baker is the group’s tone-setter.
“Budda form of calls for that all of us play at a sure degree, most likely greater than some coaches do,” Collins informed The Athletic‘s Doug Haller.
One thing wants to vary within the coming weeks. Impassioned pleas from Baker and the likes will solely go to this point. The Cardinals aren’t going to be favored in a lot of their remaining video games.
Subsequent week’s assembly with the Los Angeles Chargers ought to be thought of a tossup if Murray is able to play. After the bye week, the Denver Broncos seem like the one really winnable sport.
The Playing cards may sneak away with one in opposition to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers or Atlanta Falcons, however these two NFC South members have much more on the road as they battle for a division championship. Six or fewer wins is an efficient threshold to know it is time.
Kingsbury’s strategy hasn’t labored. Another person main the entrance workplace may make a significant distinction. Because the face of the franchise, it falls upon Murray to reply the decision of obligation.
Brent Sobleski covers the NFL for Bleacher Report. Observe him on Twitter, @brentsobleski.