GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 13 Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray #1 during the Los Angeles Rams vs Arizona Cardinals game on December 13, 2021, at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, AZ. (Photo by Jevone Moore/Icon Sportswire)

Arizona Cardinals and Kyler Murray Appear To Be Destined for A Breakup

After just three seasons as the starter, there are plenty of indicators pointing to the fact that Kyler Murray’s relationship with the team has already soured, with both sides expressing their displeasure with one another.

Kingsbury+Kyler Love Fading Fast

After drafting Josh Rosen 10th overall in the 2018 draft, the Cardinals ultimately selected Kyler Murray 1st overall the following year. This happened as the team had just hired Kliff Kingsbury to be the new head coach, and Murray was considered to be the perfect QB to captain Kingsbury’s offensive scheme.

The coach and QB duo experienced early success as Kyler Murray was named the 2019 NFL Offensive Player of the Year, though the team struggled to win games on a consistent basis and finished the season with a disappointing record of 5-10-1.

Year 2: Increased Expectations

Going into his second year, it’s no question that Murray would be expected to grow and show improvements in his game. In addition to his own growth and development, the front office did what they could to continue to surround Murray with talented playmakers.

This would most notably include the team acquiring DeAndre Hopkins via trade, who is widely considered to be one of the best wide receivers in the NFL.

The 2020 season showed improvements all around. For starters, in his rookie season Kyler Murray was sacked a total of 48 times resulting in a loss of 309 yards. Obviously this is not a recipe for success when it comes to developing a young QB, especially one with a smaller stature such as Murray.

Kyler was only sacked 27 times during the 2020 season, a -44% decrease compared to his rookie season despite playing the same number of games. Murray was also able to improve on his accuracy, as his completion percentage grew from 64% in his rookie season to 67% in his second season.

These improvements definitely had a positive overall impact on the team’s ability to win games, as they finished the season at 8-8, just barely missing the playoffs.

2020: Great Start, Bad Finish

While the 8-8 record was a nice improvement, it was disappointing when considering the fact that the Arizona Cardinals started that season 6-3 before going 2-5 in their final seven games of the season, including a loss in the final game of the season that could’ve propelled them into the postseason.

Hopes & Expectations Remained High

Despite 2020 coming to a disappointing end, hopes remained high amongst the #RedSea, as most Cardinals fans and many other NFL fans anticipated big things from the team and Murray in 2021.

Both the team overall and Murray individually delivered to start the season, as the Cardinals began the 2021 NFL season with a 7-0 record. The team scored more than 30 points in six of those seven wins, and won by double digits in five of the games. Needless to say, it seemed as though everything was going as planned.

In week 8 of the 2021 NFL season, the Cardinals first loss came after a close game against the Green Bay Packers that ended with a final score of 24-21. With the Packers being one of the better NFC teams, this loss did not seem alarming by any means.

The following week the Cardinals bounced back in a big way, beating the San Francisco 49ers 31-17 to get back in the win column. Then the first sign of trouble revealed itself when the Cardinals lost 34-10 to the Carolina Panthers. This seemed like such a strange roller coaster situation at the time: first loss, big bounce back win, barely show up and get destroyed at home by an inferior opponent.

The Arizona Cardinals went on to win their next two games, beating the Seattle Seahawks and Chicago Bears, bringing their record to an impressive 10-2. All seemed to be right again, but that assumption could not have been more wrong.

Then The Fun Was Officially Done

After starting the season 10-2 with one of the best defenses in the league, the Cardinals went on to lose 4 of their final 5 games, barely squeaking into the playoffs after sitting atop the NFC standings for most of the season.

There’s a variety of factors that went into the sharp decline, injuries being one of them. But even that does not explain how a team could go from looking so good to start the season and then end it looking so average.

Beat Down By Rams in Playoffs

Despite the late season slide, the Cardinals and Kyler Murray still found themselves in the playoff picture thanks to their early season success.

The team faced off against the eventual Super Bowl Champion Los Angeles Rams, a team the Cardinals split the season series with as they beat the Rams in week 4 and lost to them in week 14. In theory this should have been a close game between division rivals, but it was far from it as the Rams dominated early and ultimately won convincingly.

Kyler Murray completed only 55% of his passes for a total of 137 yards, 0 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. A QBR of 7.9. The Cardinals first four drives were 3 and outs that resulted in punts. The team’s fifth drive also lacked any first downs, as Murray threw an interception on third down.

The Arizona Cardinals sixth offensive drive did yield three first downs as they moved the ball downfield, though it ultimately ended in an interception.

So in the first half of play, the Cardinals offense only managed to produce 3 first downs to go along with 4 punts and 2 interceptions. The Rams were ahead 21-0 at the half before going up 28-0 following a touchdown on the opening drive of the second half. Game over. Final score 34-11 Rams win.

Social Media Scrubbing

No one would argue with the fact that the Arizona Cardinals season ended in a disappointing manner, but at the time there was no indication of internal issues between Kyler Murray and the Arizona Cardinals coaching staff or front office. Then came the social media scrubbing, in which Murray removed any and all posts and references to the Arizona Cardinals.

JJ Watt’s Hilarious Response to Social Media Scrubbing by Kyler

Kyler Murray wiped away all references to the Arizona Cardinals without offering any sort of comment or public statement, which of course triggered media outlets everywhere to begin speculating as to why he would do such a thing. This seems to be the younger generation’s way of expressing frustration and discontent. This seems to be confirmed by the information ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported regarding both sides of the Kyler Murray situation.

Chris Mortensen Comments

The previously mentioned social media scrubbing by Murray happened about a week before the Super Bowl, and all was quiet throughout the week leading up to the big game. That is until ESPN’s Chris Mortensen commented on the situation during ESPN’s pre game coverage for the Super Bowl, where he laid out the situation in the same manner as he did on Twitter in the posts shown below.

Kyler Murray Finally Addresses Situation

Basically it appears Murray is stating that he is comfortable with himself, his play and feels his work ethic speaks for itself, regardless of whatever potential slander to team and/or media may throw his way.

It’s All About Leverage

Much like a sword slicing a turd, let’s cut the crap and address what is really happening here: Kyler Murray wants a contract extension. He is currently three years into his rookie deal and likely feels as though he has been outperforming relative to the contract.

It’s not unprecedented for a young QB to receive an extension prior to playing out the entirety of their rookie deal, but this only happens when the successfulness of the situation is mutually agreed upon. In other words, though Kyler was named Offensive Rookie of the Year and has been to two Pro Bowls, the team has only made one playoff appearance which resulted in an embarrassing loss to the Rams.

The Art of Negotiating

While both Kyler Murray and the Arizona Cardinals organization likely agree that the results have not been ideal, where they seem to differ is on what or who is to blame for the failures, as each side is pointing fingers and blaming the other.

Murray feels as though the team has not done enough to help him be successful. The Cardinals apparently feel as though Murray has not fully delivered on expectations. Thus, a stalemate ensues unless either side budges on their stance. Otherwise, a trade seems likely.

All About the Money

In the end, everyone involved is simply trying to cover their own ass and avoid being blamed for the lack of success in an effort to keep their jobs and maximize their salaries, which is the norm in nearly every workplace environment.

What Should the Cardinals Do?

Reasons to keep Kyler:

  • Invested two first round picks in order to acquire him
  • He’s consistently been in the top 10-15 in various QB performance measurements, so he’s better than average
  • If you move on from Kyler, are you also done with Kingsbury?
  • What is a better/realistic replacement option that exists?

Reasons to Trade Kyler:

  • Never going to be able to add or maintain level of other talent across the roster once he gets paid
  • No postseason success so far, despite solid defense and variety of offensive playmakers
  • Don’t want the leader of the franchise to be someone that resorts to scrubbing social media out of frustration, seems a bit immature and petty

Decision Time is Looming

In the end Cardinals management is faced with a very difficult decision that will impact the franchise for many years to come. Based on what they have seen so far they must determine if Kyler Murray is the guy to lead this franchise for the next 5-10 years.

Knowing that once they pay him then the rest of the roster will inevitably take a hit from a talent perspective, they need to be sure that he is the type of QB that can elevate others to outplay their potential. Not sure there has been much evidence of that.

Given the fact that the team has consistently underachieved multiple seasons in a row and Murray himself is saying he needs more help, it seems like a bad idea to invest in him moving forward.

About Drew

Sports fan sharing random thoughts and opinions. #Browns #LetEmKnow #Buckeyes #TarHeels

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