Cardinals’ Kyler Murray says job is as difficult as his rookie season
SEATTLE — The Arizona Cardinals offense has made its life very difficult this season.
The Cardinals amassed three points outside a special teams touchdown Sunday in a 19-9 loss against the Seattle Seahawks, as the offense got shut out after an opening possession field goal.
Quarterback Kyler Murray got hit a lot in the defeat.
He took six sacks and seven quarterback hits.
The offense that scored at least 30 points in five of its first six games last year is nowhere to be seen at 19 points per game through six weeks.
“Rookie year is the last time it’s felt this hard,” Murray said. “I just feel it’s tough out there right now. Feels like a lot of it is self-inflicted. We put it on ourselves.”
The Cardinals struggled to get drives going from the jump, as eight of 11 possessions started with plays of three or fewer yards.
Murray was also Arizona’s sole effective rushing performer with 100 yards on 10 carries, as the rest of the team ran for 44 yards on 18 carries.
Murray ran the ball at least 10 times twice in his last three games. He did so once all of last season but had to take off in order to keep the chains moving Sunday.
The Cardinals were 4-for-16 on third downs, and Murray carried the ball for three of the four conversions.
Execution was inconsistent across the board from the players to the coaches, head coach Kliff Kingsbury pointed out.
He and several players said ahead of the game that they felt the unit was close to clicking, but Sunday did not back up that thinking. The Cardinals turned the ball over on downs — 4th-and-short situations — three times and had three possessions without a first down.
“I’ve got to do a better job of making sure we’re running things that we can execute at a high level and be efficient and stay on schedule,” Kingsbury said.
Kingsbury said his team is not playing games like it practices. He put some of that on himself, noting he has to make the game easier for his offense.
The head coach also said the unit, including Murray, is not in sync. Murray did not hit every throw he could have Sunday, and Kingsbury said the quarterback’s timing needs improvement.
Neither team gained many yards Sunday: the Cardinals had 315 and Seattle netted 296. Home run plays were not there on either side.
Murray said he saw a lot of soft coverage, which has been the norm this season. The quarterback expects teams to keep giving that look until the Cardinals figure out how to sustain drives and finish.
“We just can’t finish drives, that’s the moral of the story right now is not finishing drives, not putting the ball in the end zone,” Murray said. “We can’t win like that.”
The Seahawks got deeper into enemy territory more often than Arizona by staying disciplined and running the ball more efficiently.
Quarterback Geno Smith threw seven of his 31 passes beyond 10 yards, utilizing slants and screens, while taking off with his legs at times and leaning on a strong performance by rookie running back Kenneth Walker (97 yards and a touchdown).
Smith took five sacks Sunday and the Seahawks had to settle for four field goals against Arizona’s defense. But Seattle put itself in a position to score, which this week was enough.
The Cardinals expect life to get easier when receiver DeAndre Hopkins returns Thursday, considering the attention he draws from defenses, his ability to catch balls anywhere in his vicinity and his intensity.
But it’s on the unit as a whole to move the ball smoother than it has and make life easier again.