Kyler Murray is about to test the advances of modern science by returning to the field on Sunday. The Arizona Cardinals quarterback suffered a torn ACL in December and is either in a rush to secure his starting spot or is interviewing for a different role if the team continues on its current trajectory. At 1-8, the season is already lost and it would make sense to talk Murray out of it, but no one knows what’s going on in the Valley, so I guess I’ll give it a try.
We’ll see if Murray’s ACL is more of an Adrian Peterson quick return to form or a Joe Burrow situation where it took a few games for him to get back into the swing of things. The difference with Burrow’s recovery season from a brutal knee injury is that he had a full season and hit his stride enough to lead the Bengals to the Super Bowl.
This year in Arizona is over on the field, but owner Michael Bidwell is coming out of it the Robert Sarver treatment. While I doubt it will result in him selling the team – this is the NFL we’re talking about – the Cardinals don’t seem like an organization that knows what they’re doing or how to build around their current franchise quarterback .
If Murray’s return goes the way of Burrow and the OU alum isn’t crawling around like himself by Christmas Eve, the tank will still be alive for Caleb Williams. That makes the final three games a coin toss because who knows what’s at stake in Weeks 16-18.
There are prizes after Williams, but it’s nothing like last year when Houston was unlucky because Carolina had to pick first. Giving Murray the keys to the tank only risks giving him leverage and his job back or setting fire to the draft positioning that has dogged Arizona for an offseason and a half-season. If that’s what the team wants, fine, but why throw away wins?
It’s great to get some value for Josh Dobbs, and I reckon the sixth and (conditional) seventh-round picks have filled the mid-week void that Clayton Tune so miserably filled. New coach Jonathan Gannon seems like a pretty good hire, so the team may move away from being tank-heavy and settle for letting Murray work out the problems now rather than getting used to it again at the start of next season.
However, if the Heisman winner is fully healthy, he will ruin the Cardinals’ lazy plans. The knock on Murray was always going to be healthy, as he is electric in the first eight games and then limps into the playoffs. So if the Cardinals take off, which could happen considering how many games they almost won with Dobbs under center, they would be right back in draft purgatory.
Despite their only win, the team is just two Ws away from being in the top 10. Who knows how patient Murray will be after an arduous contract negotiation in 2022, and no matter how good or bad he looks, there will be suitors lining up for his services.
There are plenty of rosters that are one competent quarterback away from the Super Bowl. (What’s going on, Matthew Stafford?) Arizona is not that kind of club. At least not this year and probably next year too.
If I were Murray I would want to play. He knows it’s an audition as well as anyone, and considering the status of the owner – and the owner himself – it’s no wonder he’s keeping his options open. The reason I keep mentioning Bidwell is because neither Caleb nor his father Carl seem interested in going to a clown show.
Let’s say another toxic workplace story leaks, this season’s experiment with Murray goes badly, and not only does the team buy him out after he still had the best chance, but he asks out himself. What do you think Kyler will say to Caleb when he calls – and he will call – to get some background?
The Cardinals better figure out their plan quickly or Baker Mayfield will be the only Lincoln Riley protégé eligible for this offseason.
https://deadspin.com/arizona-cardinals-bad-1851003280 The Arizona Cardinals officially have no idea what they are doing