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Kyler Murray and the Cardinals Are at a Crossroads

Ryan Phillips
NFC Wild Card Playoffs - Arizona Cardinals v Los Angeles Rams
NFC Wild Card Playoffs - Arizona Cardinals v Los Angeles Rams / Harry How/GettyImages
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On Monday, Kyler Murray addressed rumors that suggested he's self-centered and points fingers at his teammates. Murray vowed to "grow and get better." After an unceremonious exit from the postseason the Murray and the Arizona Cardinals are at a crossroads in their relationship.

The Cardinals went 11-6 this season and finished second in the NFC West. But it's easy to forget Arizona started 7-0 and looked like the NFL's best team in mid-October. The Cards went 5-6 the rest of the way, and in the opening round of the postseason, they were hammered 34-11 by the Los Angeles Rams. Overall, they lost five of their last six games if you include the postseason.

As soon as the season concluded, questions were asked about head coach Kliff Kingsbury and whether or not he would retain his job. ESPN's Josh Weinfuss discussed Kingsbury's repeated late-season collapses throughout his career, even dating back to his time at Texas Tech. With the Cardinals, Kingsbury is 15-5-1 in Games 1 through 7, and 9-19 the rest of the way. At Texas Tech, he was 27-15 in Games 1 through 7 and 8-25 after that. An anomaly has become a pattern.

Kingsbury may not be the guy in Arizona long-term, but he'll get a fourth season in 2022. It will be a pivotal season for Murray as well.

The former No. 1 overall pick has the makings of an All-Pro performer and perennial MVP candidate, but something is missing. Murray has a rocket arm, can run and is shockingly accurate. He's also improved his completion percentage every season and he was on pace to blow by his career highs in passing yards and passing touchdowns in 2021 before he missed three games. As it was, he set career-best marks in completion percentage (69.2), yards per attempt (7.9) and quarterback rating (100.6).

While the trajectory is good for the 24-year-old quarterback, something happened in the postseason. He finished the Wild Card game against the Rams with some dismal numbers. He completed 19 of 34 passes for 137 yards, with no touchdowns and two interceptions. He was horrendous and looked completely lost under pressure.

In 2021, when Murray was bad, the Cardinals lost. He had a passer rating of less than 100 six times on the season, the Cardinals lost five of those games. In the postseason loss, his passer rating was a season-worst 40.9.

According to Chris Mortensen, the Cardinals think Murray is "self-centered, immature and a finger-pointer" and Murray feels like he's being scapegoated for the team's problems. This is a recipe for a disaster unless both sides come together and figure it out. Murray is too talented to throw away, but he has to straighten up this offseason.

The Cardinals have loads of potential. They possess a young, talented roster and have a potential superstar at quarterback. But the franchise is at a crossroads and will only find the right path if Murray is the one guiding them towards it.

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