The Arizona Cardinals got stomped by the Detroit Lions because of their leadership, or lack thereof.
Kliff Kingsbury AND Kyler Murray should bear the brunt of the blame for the debacle in Detroit. The head coach and quarterback are the leaders on the field and both made massive mistakes leading up to and during the loss.
Let’s start with Kliff. The general lack of preparedness? On Kliff. The inability to finish seasons strong? A Kliff Kingsbury staple dating back to his Texas Tech days. The reluctance to light a fire under his team with some fire and brimstone? All on K2.
In game, his actions were even more concerning. Trailing 10-0 late in the second quarter, the Cardinals offense finally found some success driving all the way to the Lions six where they had first and goal. After three failed attempts at finding the endzone, the Cardinals went for it on 4th down and were stopped. 97 yards later, the Lions took a 17-0 halftime lead. Not only did the Cardinals not call James Conner’s number once from the six yard line, they passed on a chance to score their first points and cut the lead to a one score game.
With the Lions, all you have to do is plant the tiniest seed of defeat and the Lions will water and fertilize that seed until it's a mighty oak of ineptitude.
That mistake was only compounded later in the game when the Cardinals were trailing 24-3; a three touchdown deficit with under four minutes left in the third quarter. It was 4th and Goal from the 11 and Kingsbury elected to kick the FG.
Askdjhfakjsdfjh;asdkj. That was the sound of my brain breaking.
So Kingsbury passed on a chance to score some much needed second quarter points to cut the lead to a single score but decided to turn a three TD deficit into a three TD deficit with time running out on a comeback?
Now let’s turn our attention to Kyler Murray. Kyler was bad for the second consecutive game. He’s now winless over the last two seasons on the biggest stages and the biggest games.
The complete lack of energy and juice on the field? That’s on Kyler.
His body language on Sunday reached tantrum-ing toddler stages of bad. His ability to make occasionally spectacular plays has not been a substitute for actual on field leadership.
Kyler needs to watch film of other QB’s leadership. How many times have we seen shots of Patrick Mahomes stalking the sideline extolling his teammates to stay with him? How many times do we see Tom Brady imploring his team to keep fighting in the face of adversity?
Building your teammates up is a helluva lot more important than showing them up. Kyler was heavy on the latter and nonexistent with the former.
Kyler still hasn’t fully accepted in the NFL that your physical gifts entitle you to nothing. If you can’t combine your physical gifts with the intangibles, you’ll just be a footnote in a league riddled with stories of all time great athletes who never made their mark.
Which brings me to my bigger point: I think Kyler Murray has outgrown Kliff Kingsbury.
Kliff has earned respect from a laughing stock hire to a coach who has undoubtedly improved the team he took over. He has justified his hiring. He’s not the first and far from the last to make questionable in game decisions. He’s had a solid showing in three years as an NFL head coach. This is not a cheap shot to dance on his premature coaching grave.
But he’s also not the right man for this job going forward.
What Kyler Murray needs, Kliff can’t offer.
Kyler needs some tough love. He needs someone who can help show him how to win. Kliff can’t teach Kyler how to win anymore than I can teach you how to play the trombone.
I know what a trombone is. I know how other people play it. But I’ve never done it myself so how can I teach you?
Kliff knows what winning is. He’s seen other coaches do it. But he’s never actually done it himself, so how can he teach Kyler?
To this point, it’s been a very fruitful relationship between the two but I think it’s running its course. Kyler has plateaued at the exact time this franchise needs him to rocket to the moon.
Sometimes your favorite teacher isn’t the best choice to get the most out of you. Your favorite teacher in fifth grade probably wasn’t the right teacher to help you prepare for college. Sometimes comfort stunts your development.
Kyler needs to learn how to win; he's ready to graduate from Kliff Kingsbury.
Otherwise, the Cardinals will keep losing in big moments and no one in the Cardinals needs a lesson in that.