Kyler Murray’s Cardinals face inevitable rebuild as lost season becomes reality | News, Results, Highlights, Stats and Rumours

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With or without quarterback Kyler Murray, the Arizona Cardinals are a flawed team.

Monday’s 38-10 action by the San Francisco 49ers in Mexico City showed one team was gaining ground while the other was going in the wrong direction. Murray’s return from a hamstring injury won’t save the season after a disappointing 4-7 record.

Kliff Kingsbury’s overall tenure as Cardinals head coach can be described as disappointing. Well, maybe it isn’t — if someone really paid attention to how they came across as a college coach.

At Texas Tech, Kingsbury won 47 percent of his games. With Monday’s loss, the Arizona coach’s win rate is… wait for it… 48 percent (rounded up).

Combined with some of the league’s worst drafts from general manager Steve Keim, owner Michael Bidwill should have reached the point where there’s a serious possibility of wiping the slate clean during the upcoming offseason.

Currently, Arizona appears to be checked out and outclassed for the most part. A surprise win last week with Colt McCoy at the helm doesn’t change the fact that the Cardinals have been poor for the most part this season. Plus, the Los Angeles Rams are one of the few teams that have been an even bigger disaster.

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo greets Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury after the 49ers defeated the Cardinals 38-10 in an NFL football game on Monday, November 21, 2022 in Mexico City.  (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)

AP Photo/Fernando Llano

The team’s four wins came against opponents with an aggregate record of 13-29. Aside from an impressive 7-0 start last season, the Cardinals were mediocre to poor. Admittedly, Kingsbury inherited the worst squad in the league, but there hasn’t been any lasting improvement in the last four years. The opposite happened.

The regression began on October 28th Thursday night soccer Meeting the Green Bay Packers last year. From that point to date, the Cardinals own an 8-14 record.

A look at the roster shows just how talentless Arizona actually is. Four legitimate building blocks appear to be in place, starting with Murray. Wide receivers DeAndre Hopkins and Marquise Brown and safety Budda Baker form the other pillars of the team.

Questions and jokes about Murray and his commitment to play NFL-level quarterback are moot since the Cardinals sold the 25-year-old signal-caller last offseason for a five-year contract extension worth $230.5 million signed. Technically, that part of his current deal hasn’t even started yet. He’s the guy for the foreseeable future, and he should be.

Whether or not Murray is a movie junkie shouldn’t hide the fact that he’s a gifted naturalist who has carried the offense at points throughout his career.

Explosive arm talent coupled with fantastic escape ability and exceptional mobility in the open field make him difficult to handle for opposing defense. The 2019 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year is an athlete of a different caliber than most who play the position, and it shows.

Is Murray perfect? Far from it.

But the franchise played on its natural gifts in a league where players of similar ability are more common than ever. The NFL is now a league where most of the damage often occurs outside of structure when a game is extended.

The fact that Kingsbury didn’t get the best out of his handpicked quarterback after making him No. 1 overall three years ago, largely because he reportedly fit into the coach’s system, says more about the play-caller than it’s up to his protégé.

Of course, injuries also play a role. Murray missed three games last year with an ankle injury. But the bigger issue seemed to be the dissatisfaction growing between the quarterback and Team Brain Trust based on how the roster ended last season.

Perhaps Murray is “egocentric” and “immature,” as ESPN puts it Chris Mortensen passed on in February. The internal dispute didn’t stop Bidwill from dishing out the aforementioned mega deal.

The choice became obvious. If the cardinals are to make changes, it will be to the staff, not to those behind the center. To build Murray properly, Arizona needs to do a better job. Germ has done a pathetic job.

Keim became Cardinals general manager in 2013. He has since drafted Jonathan Cooper, Deone Bucannon, DJ Humphries, Robert Nkemdiche, Haason Reddick, Josh Rosen, Murray, Isaiah Simmons and Zaven Collins in the first round. whoops This year’s top pick, tight end Trey McBride, has had little to no impact.

The general manager’s batting average might not be so bad if this were Major League Baseball. In the NFL, there aren’t that many times a team can huff during the opening frame without seeing their lineup begin to crumble.

MEXICO CITY, MEXICO - NOVEMBER 21: Arizona Cardinals' DeAndre Hopkins #10 makes a catch over San Francisco 49ers' Charvarius Ward #7 in the first half at Estadio Azteca on November 21, 2022 in Mexico City, Mexico.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

Sean M Haffey/Getty Images

Right now, Hopkins is the only real threat in the passing game. Since returning from a six-game suspension, the five-time Pro Bowl pick has clinched 45 receptions for 487 yards in five contests.

More help should be forthcoming once Brown returns from injured reserve after missing the last five games with a foot injury.

Those blocking Murray and his players on the ability position are also in disarray. Arizona has endured seven different offensive starting combinations so far this year. The instability in the trenches was predictable due to the fact that Keim allowed an aging group to enter this season without adding significant reinforcements.

Rodney Hudson, Justin Pugh and Kelvin Beachum Jr. are all 32 years or older this season. Two of the three are on injured reserve, as is Will Hernandez, another starting supervisor.

A poorly constructed offensive lineup stagnated any development expected by the coaching staff.

GLENDALE, ARIZONA - AUGUST 21: General Manager Steve Keim of the Arizona Cardinals during the NFL preseason game at State Farm Stadium on August 21, 2022 in Glendale, Arizona.  The Ravens defeated the Cardinals 24-17.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Christian Petersen/Getty Images

On the other side of the ball, the Cardinals had no answers for the 49ers. San Francisco quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo looked as good as he had all season as he worked through his progress and even lengthened some plays that became big winners. Christian McCaffrey and his running buddies also averaged 5.7 yards per carry.

JJ Watt may be a big name, but he’s not the player he used to be. To be fair, the three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year set an impossible standard. Instead, Baker is the group’s composer.

“Budda demands that we all play at a certain level, probably more so than some coaches,” Collins told The Athletic’s Doug Haller.

Something has to change in the next few weeks. Passionate pleas from Baker and the like will only go so far. The Cardinals are not favored in many of their remaining games.

Next week’s meeting with the Los Angeles Chargers should be considered a tossup if Murray is ready to play. After bye week, the Denver Broncos look like the only truly winnable game.

The cards might sneak away with one against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers or the Atlanta Falcons, but these two NFC South contestants have far more at stake as they battle for a division championship. Six or fewer wins is a good threshold to know it’s time.

Kingsbury’s approach didn’t work. Someone else running the front office could make a big difference. As the face of the franchise, it falls to Murray to fulfill the call of duty.

Brent Sobleski covers the NFL for Bleacher Report. follow him on twitter, @brentsobleski.

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