Christian Kirk credits QB Murray, WR coach for prepping Cardinals receivers
After the latest leap-frog by the Arizona Cardinals receivers, Christian Kirk sits atop the list of the team’s leading wideouts by total yardage.
DeAndre Hopkins held first place after a Week 1 win against Tennessee. Rookie Rondale Moore lept ahead after his big game to help Arizona beat Minnesota.
Kirk topped the 100-yard mark for the first time this year as the Cardinals put together a balanced attack against the Jacksonville Jaguars last Sunday.
The passing baton of leading receivers has been a refreshing thing for the position group after it relied so heavily on Hopkins a year ago, lost Larry Fitzgerald to not-quite-retirement and moved Kirk into the slot. But it hasn’t just been internal improvements or a change in personnel — the Cardinals drafted Moore and signed A.J. Green — that have given the Cardinals a deeper receiver room.
Credit goes to quarterback Kyler Murray and receivers coach Shawn Jefferson, too.
Arizona replaced former receivers coach David Raih with Jefferson this offseason, a sign those within the organization considered the receiver room to be underachieving.
Kirk said Jefferson, an intense personality who played receiver in the NFL from 1991-2003, took little time to build credibility.
“He’s had a tremendous impact for us. I think one of the things he does best and is best playing for him, he’s played the game before and has played it at a high level,” Kirk said. “Based on certain looks and techniques, he’s been there, done that. It’s easy to trust him and trust his word in what he’s coaching us. He’s uber passionate, uber competitive and he sets the tone every day.
“There’s just a little more understanding there from a player-coach relationship. … There’s not too much confusion of what’s being asked or what’s being coached.”
The preparation in practice also includes Murray and head coach Kliff Kingsbury.
While the playbook has priority targets depending on the situation — like Kirk’s Willie Mays catch for a TD against a zero blitz two weeks ago — Kirk said Murray has made sure to keep all the receivers engaged.
“Every week when we put in the install, we know that all of us have an opportunity to make plays if not big plays. There’s always a couple plays in there for all of us to kind of make that spark. Kyler’s been doing a great job of finding all of us,” Kirk said.
“It evolves from (walk-through) to practice. He usually goes through the same reads and distributes the ball to the same area. Later in the week, he’ll do a good job as well of maybe throwing the ball to the last read, even if that’s not a possibility, just kind of giving everybody a sense that you may get the ball — not that you’re running a route just to get a guy open or you’re just lifting the coverage.”