Wyche: Murray key to Kingsbury succeeding as college-to-NFL coach

Sep 4, 2019, 6:30 AM | Updated: 7:29 am
GLENDALE, ARIZONA - AUGUST 08: Head coach Kliff Kingsbury of the Arizona Cardinals talks with Kyler...
GLENDALE, ARIZONA - AUGUST 08: Head coach Kliff Kingsbury of the Arizona Cardinals talks with Kyler Murray #1 on the sidelines during the first half of an NFL preseason game against the Los Angeles Chargers at State Farm Stadium on August 08, 2019 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
(Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

With the 2019 preseason officially in the books, the training wheels can come off for head coach Kliff Kingsbury and the Arizona Cardinals offense.

After showing very little of the team’s new-look offense with rookie quarterback Kyler Murray, the Cardinals are finally ready to unleash Kingsbury’s Air Raid style offense in Week 1 against the Lions.

But what exactly is to be expected? And will it even work?

Other than this preseason, there is absolutely zero film on Murray and Kingsbury’s offense in the NFL. And as we’ve seen with the likes of Steve Spurrier’s and Chip Kelly’s tenures in the NFL, history isn’t necessarily on Arizona’s side.

But maybe Murray really can be the difference maker, the piece of the puzzle that no other coach running a college offense in the NFL has had before.

“The intrigue of Kyler Murray has peaked a lot of interest around the league with opposing teams and also what this offense is going to be,” NFL Network analyst Steve Wyche told 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station‘s Bickley & Marotta on Tuesday.

“Teams are going to be paying attention to them early just to see exactly what they’re going to be about offensively. … I was speaking to a general manager who was talking about how incredible a passer he is and you see the arm and you see the accuracy. But the Kyler Murray element, when you got a driver, when you got a quarterback, that’s what differentiates the possibility for Kingsbury’s success from a lot of these other [college offensive] coaches.”

A lot has been made around the league about how Kingsbury, who had no NFL coaching experience prior to this season, was hired as the Cardinals head coach after being fired from Texas Tech, where he went 35-40 in six seasons.

“A lot of coaches are like ‘How did Kliff Kingsbury get this job? There is no way we’re going to lose to them,'” Wyche said. “They’re going to gameplan and really try to put it on the Cardinals. There’s a lot of people that feel that Kliff didn’t pay his dues so to speak.”

One downside of Kingsbury’s offense is how the quick tempo can affect the defense in a negative way. While gassing out opponent defenses and not allowing them to make substitutions is an offensive advantage for Arizona, it could also increase the amount of time the Cardinals defense is on the field. That’s a recipe for disaster should the offense be having a bad day at the office.

“You can manipulate tempo and a prime example of that is the Rams,” Wyche said. “They will go a part of a drive where they’re no-huddling, but they take the play clock almost all the way down.

“Then they no-huddle and they’re tempo-ing you, they’ve got you. So now you can’t sub, so now they’ve got people guessing. So you can manipulate it that way. … But kind of going up-speed all the time, there’s too many pitfalls for it to successfully sustain.”

At the end of the day, all that matters is wins and losses. And after finishing 3-13 in 2018, the 2019 version of the Cardinals is a brand new team, other than some core pieces, of course.

But preseason injuries, Patrick Peterson’s suspension and a grueling schedule doesn’t bode well for Arizona, especially in a division that includes the defending NFC champions in the Rams, and Seahawks and Niners teams that look to be improving following roster upgrades.

“Nobody knows what to expect,” Wyche said. “They see talent in some spots: edge rusher, Kyler Murray, Larry Fitzgerald, David Johnson. But is the offensive line that great?

“We see the injuries in the secondary and the suspension of Patrick Peterson. … Can the secondary hold up [early on]? Plus their schedule is brutal. … They’re not ready to contend with Seattle and the Rams and even the 49ers in the division yet.”

The Cardinals will get their first opportunity to showcase their offense on Sunday as they host the Detroit Lions.

Kickoff is set for 1:05 p.m. Catch all the live action on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station.


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