After making the playoffs following the 2021 season, the Arizona Cardinals are facing an uphill battle to get back to them this season. Arizona is currently 4-7 on the season as they are closer to being in last place in the NFC than qualifying for a playoff spot.
Their defense hasn’t been great this season, which is a big reason for their struggles. The performance on that side of the ball has regressed from the last two seasons, but the more troubling development is the performance of the team’s offense.
The Cardinals signed quarterback Kyler Murray to a huge contract extension, a five-year, $230.5 million deal, in the offseason. While he is a supremely talented player, there is more to the quarterback position than just being able to run and throw and Murray is finding that out the hard way.
A big deal was made of the study clause in his contract, as the Cardinals put in a stipulation that he needed to spend time in the facility working on learning the playbook. That started a firestorm about his work ethic and the clause was eventually taken out of the contract.
To wrap up Week 11, the Cardinals faced off with the San Francisco 49ers on Monday Night Football. Murray was a topic of discussion as the analysts discussed his leadership qualities. His former teammate and future Hall of Famer, Larry Fitzgerald, seemed to hint at Murray’s lacking some of those qualities when speaking highly of Colt McCoy, who started the game for the injury Murray.
“The conversations with former teammates were glowing about his leadership — leading meetings, taking the onus,” Fitzgerald said of McCoy. “If he makes a mistake, saying, ‘That was on me, I’m gonna get it fixed.’ That’s a big part of being a leader.”
Robert Griffin III made a suggestion as well, saying that the Cardinals should let Murray install the game plan so that he can see just how difficult of a task it is. They did that in the preseason and doing it again in the regular season wouldn’t be the worst idea.
It could actually help everyone get on the same page as the coaches would be able to see what Murray is comfortable with and help expand the game plan in that fashion. Hall of Famer Steve Young has had an opinion about it as he believes Murray is hitting that wall where he is no longer the best athlete on the field and needs to adjust.
“Kyler Murray his whole life has had the answers to every athletic test that he’s ever taken. He’s gotten A+’s through middle school, high school, college, and then even early here in the NFL,” Young said. “The NFL will have its referendum, and I think it’s happening now for Kyler. He’s whip-smart and he knows everything, but there is a part of playing great quarterback that is going back to school. That’s what Patrick Mahomes has done, that’s what Josh Allen (has done), that’s what Dak Prescott has talked about doing.”
These were all solid points made by the ESPN crew. Murray has all of the talent in the world but it is time for him to begin taking his craft to another level. We have seen plenty of talented, young players take that step, as Young mentioned.
Unfortunately, we have seen just as many fall by the wayside as they were unable to get the job done off the field. Hopefully, that isn’t a situation that Murray falls into as the Cardinals invested a lot of money into him to be their leader.