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Kingsbury: Cardinals hope penalties go away; Kyler Murray’s rushes won’t

Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury makes a call during the second half of an NFL football game against the Washington Football Team, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

It didn’t take film review to know why Arizona Cardinals players weren’t as enthused as could be following a relatively one-sided win over the Washington Football Team on Sunday.

The Cardinals lead the NFL with 20 penalties through Week 2. A majority of the flags have come on the offensive side of the ball.

Head coach Kliff Kingsbury returned from postgame film review Monday with the straight facts from a 30-15 win over Washington at State Farm Stadium.

“We had 14 that we regard as negatives plays between penalties and negative runs or sacks,” he said. “That number usually you want to keep under five. I think that was like negative-87 yards for us and they stopped drives.

“Our players have to understand that we have to take what we’re saying on the practice field and practicing on the practice field and transition to the games.”

Through two games, quarterback Kyler Murray has two intentional groundings, and the offense has two delay-of-game penalties. Arizona players have been caught holding on blocks down the field and the offensive line, and one hold Sunday by tight end Dan Arnold nullified a touchdown run by Murray that might have happened without it.

Kingsbury was so stuck on the penalty issues Monday morning on his Zoom call with reporters that he turned a question about Murray’s 7.5 yards per rush being sustainable into an answer getting back to those miscues by the offense.

“The MVP last year (Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson) had a ton of quarterback runs and he did alright so I don’t think that’s not sustainable,” he said. “What’s not sustainable is continuing to win games when you have that many penalties and shoot yourself in the foot over and over and stop drives. That’s what will hold us back.”

Extra points

— Arizona placed tight end Maxx Williams on injured reserve as it activated receiver KeeSean Johnson from the COVID-19/reserve list on Monday. That means Williams will miss games against Detroit, Carolina and the New York Jets before being eligible to return on Oct. 19 for Monday Night Football against the Dallas Cowboys.

— Of the 4th-and-1 play-call with backup quarterback Chris Streveler pitching the ball to Christian Kirk, Kingsbury said the decision to go for it and decision to make that play-call was about opportunity, math and feel.

“Great look for the play when you look at the defense on film,” he said. “Trusting in your players when they come to the sideline saying, ‘Hey, we can get that’ — there are a lot of things that go into it. But we want to be aggressive and continue to evolve as an offense. We felt that was the play at that time.”

— The Cardinals have some fashion controversy: Murray and running back Kenyan Drake have been tackled by their very stretchy, very strong white undershirts through the first two weeks of the season. Kingsbury said banning their shirts is not on the table: “Not yet, not yet. They got to keep their swag up. Look good, play good right now. But we may get there if we have another one.”

— Kingsbury spoke on how he directs Murray to pull the ball versus hanging in the pocket to complete a pass: “I’m kind of the armchair quarterback. If it works, I always say, ‘Hey, nice job taking off.’ If it doesn’t, I say say, ‘Hey, you should have hung in the pocket and made that throw.’ That’s my expertise right there.”

— More Kingsbury on distributing the ball around to Arizona’s many weapons: “Throughout the week, I try to script it of getting guys touches early and then kind of riding the hot hand … I want to kind of spread it around early play-call wise and hopefully everybody’s getting involved, but then you go from there.”


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