Kyler Murray needs to play on Sunday.
The Cardinals franchise QB has been nursing an ankle sprain since last Thursday night and his status remains up in the air for Sunday’s tilt against the 49ers in Santa Clara.
Now obviously if this injury, and injury details are NFL team’s most closely guarded secrets, is more severe than being reported, Kyler shouldn’t play. But if he’s dealing with an ankle sprain, he needs to be out there to lead his team.
There are a few reasons why I feel so strongly about this.
One, playing at less than 100% is an essential skill for any NFL player. Last year, the Cardinals watched their playoff spot evaporate in Week 17 when Kyler missed most of the game with a sprained ankle. This year, I’d like to see Kyler gut out a divisional game on a sprained ankle than be on the sideline.
Donovan McNabb joins me every Tuesday at 8:33 AM on The Drive and when I asked him how he made decisions when to play or not and how it applied to Kyler Murray, he offered this answer:
"If I could walk, I am playing. That was my mentality. With the rehab schedule they had him on after the game, it may be a gametime decision similar to Dak Prescott last Sunday. I expect fully for Kyler Murray to play. It depends on where the bruise is, an ankle sprain, or maybe his ankle got rolled up on awkwardly. I (assume) they have him on the rehab schedule twice a day, three times maybe, to get back on track.
Two, helping the 49ers breathe any more life into their season seems like a huge mistake. The 49ers were frisky last week against a bad Bears team but at 3-4, are still hanging around the NFC West and NFC playoff pictures. If the 49ers beat the Cardinals, it could be the catalyst for the team to rediscover their path this season.
Third, the Seahawks are starting to get their act together. From Weeks 2-5, Seattle gave up 479.5 yards per game including over 153 rushing yards per game. In weeks 6-8, the Seahawks defense gave up 319 yards per game and just 98 rushing yards per game. Plus, Russell Wilson is expected to be back in Week 10 after missing the last three games with a finger injury.
Fourth, the Packers will be without Aaron Rodgers. Gaining ground on a team that just leapfrogged you in the overall playoff race is an invaluable opportunity in November.
Don’t be fooled by the success of backup QB’s in a bizarre Week 8. Mike White, PJ Walker, Trevor Siemien, Geno Smith and Cooper Rush all getting W’s doesn’t mean Colt McCoy would on Sunday. McCoy has NFL success under his belt but still is just 8-22 as a starter.
The core strength of the Cardinals is Kyler Murray. He makes Kyler plays, not quarterback plays. Without him, I’d guess the offense is more likely to fall apart than come together. No backup can fill his shoes, even if my five year old could literally fill them.
The Cardinals season is off to a great start. Its clear that at their best there is no team obviously better in the NFL.
But 7-1 doesn’t mean you’ve accomplished anything. For the Arizona Cardinals to make the most of this season, they need every game to feel like the only game.
And they need Kyler Murray on the field to win those games. Which is why I hope to see him on the field this Sunday.