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It’s very clear NFL old heads like Rex Ryan don’t like Kliff Kingsbury

It’s become increasingly worrisome that the Arizona Cardinals have their share of flaws.

Through parts of two preseason games, the first-team offense is going backward and its defense is getting gashed. General manager Steve Keim and head coach Kliff Kingsbury have expressed more concern about the latter than the former, and considering the recent personnel happenings on the defensive side of the ball, those stances are warranted.

Whether Arizona’s vanilla preseason offense will look that different in Week 1 of the regular season will remain a mystery until then. Same goes for whether the defense will wilt.

In the meantime, we can be certain about one thing: some old-school NFL folks simply want the Cardinals’ “college” offense to fail.

Raiders safety Lamarcus Joyner expressed as much before Oakland wrapped a 33-26 preseason win over Arizona on Thursday, telling ESPN sideline reporter Lisa Salters he wanted to run the “pretty-boy” offense out of the NFL. Joyner’s head coach, Jon Gruden, dropped a few hints postgame that he isn’t a fan of Kingsbury’s scheme either.

All you need to do is blitz a spread offense led by a mobile quarterback, he said. Regarding the Cardinals’ snapping the ball via hand clapping, Gruden made it clear he doesn’t get it.

“Well, they’re clapping their hands and that’s not real common in the NFL,” Gruden said. “I don’t understand the clapping, but obviously that’s something the referees are looking at tonight.”

Former New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan, now an ESPN analyst, made his feelings of Kingsbury’s offense quite clear when he joined “Get Up” on Friday morning.

“Basketball on grass,” Ryan said. “It’s so boring watching all this stuff right there — I mean, c’mon, college football. I hope it gets smoked also, I really do.

“I think it’s so boring. It is boring. We’re going to see. Kingsbury says, ‘Wait ’til Week 1.’ Oh, I can’t wait until Week 1. They’re going to get whipped Week 1.”

A defensive coach by trade, Ryan believes he has the answer to the Air Raid style offense. Blitz off the edge.

“That’s why that open edge pressure, you’re going to see it all day long,” Ryan said. “Their answer is the quick little hitch screen or slant. Guess what? The DBs are going to know that. They’re going to be sitting on these guys, they’re going to be getting in the face of these receivers. They better get that running game going or they’re going to get run out of town.”


The Cardinals have been secretive about their offense, and for good reason. Call it an excuse for the inevitable failures or a wise thing to keep it under wraps.

But what they’ve shown in the preseason is not what will debut on Sept. 8 against the Detroit Lions. Watch a few minutes of Kingsbury’s offense at Texas Tech or even a few minutes of Arizona’s open practices, and you’d believe it.

It’s here where we reach a dichotomy forming in how NFL analysts are gauging the Cardinals’ offensive stock.

While some express a distaste so severe that they’re rooting for Kingsbury to fail — and overanalyzing preseason football — others are believing we’ve yet to get a glimpse Kingsbury’s offensive innovation.

Ryan’s ESPN colleague Dan Orlovsky, a former NFL quarterback, has long been a believer in the NFL marriage of Kingsbury and Murray. His analysis on SportsCenter late Thursday night wasn’t so down on the rookie No. 1 pick or the offense as a whole.

Breaking down the final play for Murray, in which the quarterback saw a disguised blitz before taking a Joyner sack for a safety, Orlovsky had this to say:

“They fooled Kyler Murray … I’m not overly-concerned about this at all. I expected this offense to be vanilla in this preseason. One of the inherent advantages that Kliff Kingsbury has is a lot of the teams they play early on, they don’t have NFL tape of what this offense is going to look like. Why would he show them in the preseason what their answers to all the pressures are going to be?

“Not an issue. A good learning experience for Kyler Murray and Kliff Kingsbury.”

It’s the same thing you hear from the quarterback and his head coach.

Whether it plays out that way, as they say, we’ll just have to wait and see.

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