The Arizona Cardinals stared down an 0-2 start, but Kyler Murray never blinked. Often described by teammates as the ultimate competitor, Kyler simply would not give up and willed his team to victory.
Murray’s poise under pressure, his ability to extend plays, and finally, his unparalleled quickness, were on full display in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s game. The win helped move the Cardinals up eight spots, to number fourteen on ESPN’s NFL Power Rankings.
Kyler Murray’s Growth As A Leader
What’s arguably more impressive than Kyler’s physical abilities as a dual-threat quarterback, is the ongoing development of his emotional maturity and mental prowess. Pundits and critics alike have wondered whether or not the first pick of the 2019 NFL Draft would live up to expectations and be a franchise quarterback.
The worn-out refrain about Murray being too short was being floated around this offseason and some people claimed he’d be better off playing baseball.
The Cardinals put many doubts to rest when they finally offered Kyler a five-year, $230.5 million extension during the offseason. Even still, a mandatory independent film study clause in the contract had people questioning Murray’s work ethic. Kyler did not idly sit by and allow the disrespect to be piled on and held an impromptu press conference to defend his character.
It’s Not How You Start, It’s How You Finish
After back-to-back great starts the past two seasons, followed by surprising second-half collapses, many critics question whether or not Kyler Murray and coach Kliff Kingsbury are capable of leading the Arizona Cardinals on a deep playoff run.
Last season, the Cardinals were 9-2 entering their bye week. Coming off the bye, Arizona managed just two wins in seven games, including an embarrassing rout at the hands of rival Los Angeles Rams in the NFC Wild Card game.
Murray’s performance in his first playoff game further fueled the critics’ doubts, as he completed just 19 of 34 passes, with two interceptions and zero touchdowns.
Similarly, the Cardinals started the 2020 season 6-3, before finishing 8-8. The Rams handed the Cardinals two losses in their final five games, playing spoiler to keep Arizona from the playoffs. The Cardinals are a dismal 1-6 against the Rams since Kingsbury took over in 2019. This season, Murray is readier than ever to flip the script, proving doubters wrong along the way.
Arizona Turns to Veteran Leadership to Help Build Winning Culture, Develop Young Talent
Murray will look to lean on a collection of dependable veterans like WR A.J. Green, TE Zach Ertz, and RB James Conner to provide leadership. Arizona also hopes to get valuable contributions from younger players, like backup running back Eno Benjamin and surprise weapon, wide receiver Greg Dortch.
Murray’s former college teammate at Oklahoma, Marquise “Hollywood” Brown, is functioning as the team’s WR 1 and will likely perform even better once DeAndre Hopkins returns and helps soften up the coverage.
If Arizona can eke out three or four more victories until Pro-Bowl wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins returns from his 6-game suspension, there is good reason to believe the Cardinals can finish the season strong and be poised for a playoff run.
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