The Drive with Jody Oehler

The Drive with Jody Oehler

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The Real Crisis for the Arizona Cardinals

For now, we think, the Kyler Clause Crisis is over.

It was a helluva run, fueling the NFL content machine for an unthinkable full week. Soon, if not already by the time you read this, the NFL content machine will have found a new topic to churn and burn.

But while it may be over for everyone else, it’s really just beginning for the Cardinals. This is no longer a Clause Crisis but it quickly could become a Leadership Crisis.

The reason the Cardinals franchise became engulfed in a completely unnecessary and embarrassing controversy is because they lack leadership. The only way the Cardinals can make sure this doesn’t sabotage their actual season is through leadership.

See the potential problem?

Leadership starts at the top and in this instance, owner Michael Bidwill failed dramatically. By reportedly crow barring this clause into the deal, he turned what should have been a celebration of the most significant contract in franchise history into one of its lowest moments in over 15 years.

This moment had the feel of the pre-Glendale Stadium Cardinals franchise. The franchise that had one winning season in its first 20 years of existence. The franchise that did everything wrong for over two decades: Hiring the wrong coaches, signing the wrong players, drafting busts almost exclusively and engaging in the kind of behavior with its few good players that it sabotaged any potential success.

This Kyler contract fiasco had the DNA of the old Cardinals. The whole week was a reminder that the double helix of the Cardinals franchise still has a strand of that embarrassing period of time coursing through its veins.

While Michael Bidwill has done a lot to make us forget that period of time in the Cardinals past, it took one big misstep to remind us all of what the Cardinals were and were not for a very long time.

Michael Bidwill created this mess, he’s not the leader the Cardinals can count on right now to lead them out of it.

How about the GM or the Head Coach? Good luck. This could have all been avoided if either had the equity or the gumption to stand up to an owner’s worst tendencies.

Instead the Cardinals have a deferential general manager who has the owner of the team to thank for his inexplicable longevity. A GM who once had the single worst calendar year of any NFL GM in modern NFL history (2018 - Sam Bradford, Mike Glennon, Steve Wilks, trade up for Josh Rosen and an extreme DUI leading to the worst record in the NFL to name a few of the lowlights from that year) that now unbelievably has some of the strongest job security in the league. How can he lead the Cardinals when his greatest strength is to follow Michael Bidwill?

The head coach? Not around here.

The head coach is forever professionally indebted to the owner and general manager for plucking him from the college football unemployment line into the NFL. A head coach that should be able to use this as a rallying cry for the entire team but doesn’t want his voice to be heard too loudly by those above him out of fear they may view it as being disloyal to them. 

In fact, if Kliff Kingsbury was capable of creating a culture that demanded excellence, the Cardinals would have never needed to insist on such a clause in the first place. Kliff has positives he has brought to the team but his history as a coach clearly reflects someone who does not thrive in the face of professional adversity.

That only leaves one person: Kyler Murray.

This moment could be the flashpoint for Kyler to truly become the leader the franchise desperately needs.

Kyler could answer literally ALL the questions about his leadership by using this moment as a rallying cry for the 2022 Arizona Cardinals.

Even that has some challenges as Kyler clearly showed yesterday at his impromptu press conference he’s not quite comfortable with all of the things that come with being a franchise NFL quarterback.

When you’re an NFL quarterback, disrespect is a daily occurrence for most of your career. Today's golden child at QB is tomorrow's content fodder.

Tom Brady was a SYSTEM QUARTERBACK even when he had multiple rings on his hand. Aaron Rodgers was the most talented QB in football history until he became the guy that can’t win the big one. Kirk Cousins has thrown for the 4th most TD’s in the NFL over the last five years. He’s led his team to the playoffs multiple times and won a playoff game and he’s the biggest punchline in the league. Every single NFL quarterback gets disrespected as part of a normal day on the job.

The best ones have a superpower that allows them to take the negativity and disrespect and turn it into their greatest strength.

This is a lot to ask Kyler but he’s their only hope right now.

Kyler can save the Cardinals by taking this moment and turning it into the biggest strength of the team.

Instead of this being Kyler vs. the world, it can become the Cardinals vs. the world. Instead of this being an embarrassing call back to the bad ole days of the Cardinals past, it could become the moment where Cardinals history really begins.

He could have the ultimate revenge on everyone who questioned him.

If he does that the only homework he'd likely need to do is where to put his MVP trophy and how to memorize the Cardinals championship parade.

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