The Arizona Cardinals were eliminated in last night’s NFL Super Wildcard Weekend finale. In the first ever Monday night playoff game in league history the Los Angeles Rams completely manhandled the overmatched and unprepared Cardinals by a score of 34-11.
The game once again proved that Kliff Kingsbury is in over his head as the coach of the Cardinals.
Final score. pic.twitter.com/yDLCn8DueL
— Arizona Cardinals (@AZCardinals) January 18, 2022
For a team that started 7-0 with road wins at Tennessee, Cleveland and the Rams, this is an ugly ending for the Cardinals. A team which had so promise early in the season went 4-7 down the stretch, following their season-ending playoff loss at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles.
The second-half nosedive included an inexplicable (30-12) road loss to the Detroit Lions. That game and other poor losses played a role in knocking the once top-seeded Cards into a wildcard spot, and on the road for the playoffs.
How INSANE is the Lions win over the Cardinals?
It is the first time in NFL HISTORY, a team with 1 win or fewer beat a 10+ win team by double-digits. pic.twitter.com/lgWEUvZZlR
— NFL on CBS 🏈 (@NFLonCBS) December 19, 2021
Kingsbury took some of the blame for the stinker against the one-win Lions.
“Obviously pissed to come out and play like that. They out-coached us and out-played us. We got to get better.”
— Seth Walder (@SethWalder) December 28, 2021
He told you what it was.
Kingsbury had no professional head coaching experience prior to taking over in Arizona after African-American HC Steve Wilks was given one “tank” season at the helm and fired. Kingsbury was considered an offensive genius who could develop Kyler Murray and put him in a system that would maximize his unique abilities. This, despite the fact that Kingsbury had a losing record (35-40), (19-35) in the Big 12 during his time as head coach of the Texas Tech Raiders.
Questions lingered as to why a guy with a losing record in college was coming to lead an NFL franchise. He only had two winning seasons in his career.
Stephen A.Smith Questioned Kingsbury As A Head Coach: Maybe He Was Onto Something
This DUDE Kliff Kingsbury looks like a better candidate to be on the BACHELOR than a head coach of a football team, DAMNIT! pic.twitter.com/WYOG3DRRM8
— Stephen A Smith (@stephenasmith) January 9, 2019
Following the 2019 season, in which the team went (5-10–1), Kyler Murray won AP Offensive Rookie of the Year, and the team won two of its final three games in the first season with the KK and KM duo, giving many hope that the finish was sustainable for 2020.
Kyler Murray has been named AP Offensive Rookie of the Year.
Congratulations @K1! 👏
— Arizona Cardinals (@AZCardinals) February 1, 2020
That wasn’t enough to impress ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith, who was quick to question if it was sustainable with Kingsbury as the head coach.
On a “Sportscenter” segment with Kevin Neghandi, SAS …. didn’t speak to highly of KK.
“Hell yes I do have reservations, because of his coach. That’s really very, very simple. We know what Kyler Murray can do. He’s a dynamic quarterback, even though he’s miniature in height. He can run with the football — he ran for 544 yards last season, and passed for 3,702 yards. He also completed 64.4 percent of his passes. We know what he’s capable of, based on that alone.”
“The problem is he has a head coach, in all due respect, who never deserved a head coaching job in Arizona.”
The Development Of Murray As A QB Has Been Slow: He Still Plays Like An Athlete
The hiring of Kingsbury was based on a master plan he had for making Kyler Murray the league’s most dangerous weapon. Murray’s shown flashes of the unorthodox brilliance and video game athleticism unmatched by his peers. Past that, his cerebral approach to the position hasn’t been cultivated.
Jalen Hurts was not the only 1st-time starter in playoffs to struggle in debut
Kyler Murray: 19/34, 137 yds, 55.88%, 0 TD, 2 INT
Mac Jones: 24/38, 232 yds, 63.16%, 2 TD, 2 INT
Derek Carr: 29/54, 310 yds, 53.70%, 1 TD, 1 INT
— Eliot Shorr-Parks (@EliotShorrParks) January 18, 2022
Murray seems to still play his best when things are frantic, and he can play off schedule. That’s necessary at times with teams rushing the passer, but it’s a tough way to make a living in the NFL. Just look around and you’ll notice that signal callers who can operate from the pocket seem to be more successful and less injured.
At one point this season Murray was an MVP candidate leading a 7-0 squad. The diminutive dynamo passed for 2,002 yards to go along with 17 touchdowns and five interceptions during those first seven weeks. That changed pretty quickly. He’s been a much-less efficient and productive signal caller.
His playoff performance was just the clunker in a season that fell off a cliff.
First half numbers for Kyler Murray:
• 7 of 17 passing
• 28 Pass Yards
• 1.6 Avg
• 0 TD
• 2 INT pic.twitter.com/WdZCaG2afM
— FOX Sports: NFL (@NFLonFOX) January 18, 2022
Is Murray Healthy?
He did miss three games with an injury and that should be mentioned. Once Murray and J.J. Watt went down, Arizona was a different team. It was also a great opportunity for Kingsbury to show that he can actually coach an entire team and inspire them. He failed.
Arizona has to be honest. Can Kliff Kingsbury take this team and Kyler Murray to greater heights? They might need to retool that position and look elsewhere.
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