TEMPE – Coming into the 2019 season, those associated with the Arizona Cardinals were quick to keep expectations modest. While there was excitement stemming from the hiring of coach Kliff Kingsbury and the drafting of quarterback Kyler Murray, it was understood the team would take time to develop.
And yet, a quarter of the way through their season, may critics believe Arizona has looked debatably worse than even the most pessimistic of pundits predicted. An offense that many touted as the league’s future has looked stagnant and ineffective, while the defense has statistically been one of the NFL’s worst. As the Cardinals search for their first win, Kingsbury continues to stress the importance of remaining positive.
“It’s been some tough situations, ups and downs, but they continue to fight, they continue to walk on the field knowing had we done a couple things here or there it would’ve been a different story,” Kingsbury said at his weekly Monday press conference. “The guys are believing in each other, and we just have to keep that going.”
Sunday’s 27-10 loss to the visiting Seattle Seahawks was just the latest in a string of underachieving performances by the Cardinals on both sides of the ball. The offense could not generate consistent success, failing to find the end zone until late in the fourth quarter while the defense gave up points on three of the Seahawks’ first four possessions.
“It’s hard to take anything good from losing two in a row at home,” Arizona wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald told reporters following the defeat. “Three home games out of four and you don’t come out with a win, that’s pretty depressing. So it’s not much to really be happy about.”
The play of Murray and his progression through a highly anticipated rookie season has been the dominant topic of conversation in the season’s early weeks, and while the results have been mixed his coach remains optimistic. Murray’s play, while statistically pedestrian, has shown vast improvement, Kingsbury said, as the rookie has been quick to pick up the small details that separate the good quarterbacks from the great ones.
“You see some real development even from last week as far as finding check downs, getting through his progressions and protecting the football for the most part,” Kingsbury said Monday. “That’s what we ask him to do, is try to avoid some of those negative plays and know when the party’s over, and he took a step in the right direction.”
Keeping Murray, who now has as many losses as as he did in high school and college combined, staying cognizant of the bigger picture remains of the upmost importance for Arizona’s coaches. For a franchise with aspirations far beyond the 2019 season, preserving Murray’s confidence through these trying times is crucial for the Cardinals’ long-term trajectory.
“Just talk through the entire situation,” Kingsbury said Monday on how he keeps Murray positive. “He knows the strides that need to be made and what he needs to work on. He is very competitive, he is very hard on himself. He wants to be great, and these are things you go through when you’re the number one pick in the draft. He’s got to understand that, and continue to get better, and I think he will.”
Much like his coach, Murray knows the importance of remaining confident. As he continues to acclimate himself to the fast-paced nature of the NFL, he remains fully aware of just how close this team is to achieving something truly special.
“Everybody in the building understands now what we have and how it’s supposed to go, how it’s supposed to look,” Murray told reporters Sunday. “There are flashes, but we just haven’t finished it and put it all together. I think once we put it all together, we’ll be fine.”