Kliff Kingsbury and Kyler Murray both joined the Arizona Cardinals in 2019. Murray was the first overall pick, and Kingsbury was the hotshot young head coach from college who was going to implement a high-scoring offense in the NFL.
Predictably, their first season together didn’t go well, with the team finishing 5-10-1. But they improved over the next two years, getting to eight wins, and finally 11 plus a playoff berth in 2021.
Heading into 2022, the Cardinals had a fight ahead of them, battling the reigning Super Bowl champion Rams, in addition to the resurging 49ers and the much better-than-expected Seahawks in the NFC West.
Obviously, the results haven’t gone well, with the Cards at 4-10, and it’s reportedly causing a lot of friction inside the Arizona locker room, according to one NFL insider.
Kyler Murray, Kliff Kingsbury reportedly at odds
They say winning cures all illnesses. But losing? It tends to cause issues. That doesn’t appear to be any different for the Cardinals in 2022.
Earlier on Friday, a report from ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler emerged, suggesting Kingsbury was ready to walk away from being Arizona’s head coach. Kingsbury quickly refuted this speculation, saying he isn’t ready to quit on his team.
Yet, that doesn’t mean there aren’t internal issues brewing within the Cardinals organization.
ESPN went on to indicate that Kingsbury is “miserable”, and a source close to the head coach said he’s “tired of the BS,” whatever that means. The source also suggests they “won’t let him be great,” referring to Kingsbury.
Another source close to Kingsbury mentioned the situation in Arizona as “not sustainable”, to which Cardinals team owner Michael Bidwill could agree with.
Even if Kingsbury isn’t prepared to give up his position, there’s always the possibility the front office cleans house, changing head coaches in addition to their general manager.
“The decision about Kingsbury’s future, and the direction of the organization, will fall to Bidwill. Multiple sources inside and outside the Cardinals organization said the relationship between Kingsbury and Bidwill has not been without its own share of tension, though the two men, along with defensive coordinator Vance Joseph, regularly meet for film sessions and one-on-one postgame meetings.”From ESPN’s report on the Arizona Cardinals situation under Kliff Kingsbury and Kyler Murray
But the Cardinals may have even bigger issues, with their franchise quarterback, Murray, also reportedly suggesting that “changes need to be made.” While that quote is quite vague, meaning it could be interpreted in a thousand different ways, it could very well be that these two have worn out their welcome.
If so, it’s a big turn of events for a connection that goes back to 2015, Murray’s first year in college when he attended Texas A&M while Kingsbury was the team’s head coach.
Have the Arizona Cardinals set up Kingsbury to fail?
But there’s another path, suggesting the roster is the problem. Some also feel the team hasn’t exactly set up their young duo to be successful, with Murray playing his role in the offensive struggles as well.
“While one source close to Murray said the quarterback wanted more freedom at the line of scrimmage, particularly with running plays, multiple sources said plays designed to get certain playmakers the ball often didn’t come to fruition, either due to miscommunication, a play breaking down or Murray improvising, and the disjointed attack created unpredictability for some of the team’s pass-catchers.”More from ESPN’s report
Others, such as former Cardinals teammate Patrick Peterson feel Murray could improve his attitude, and how he handles adversity. Players also have reportedly suggested Kingsbury’s personality holds him back, by not being able to hold members on the roster accountable for their mistakes.
With the Cardinals handing Murray a five-year, $230 million contract prior to the start of the season, they may want to place a priority on helping him thrive, whenever he can make it back from his ACL injury.