Arizona Cardinals starting quarterback Kyler Murray suffered a serious injury in Monday’s defeat to the New England Patriots. Further testing results confirmed that Murray suffered a season-ending torn ACL, according to multiple reports. Murray now faces a lengthy road to recovery. It completely changes the trajectory of Arizona’s franchise, but it shouldn’t remove pressure from head coach Kliff Kingsbury.
Injuries to quarterbacks have been known to buy regimes additional grace periods, but it shouldn’t in Kingsbury’s case, though. It’s worth remembering the Cardinals entered Monday’s tilt against the Patriots with an uncompetitive record of 4-8. At 4-9, they’re now tied for fourth place in the winnable NFC West alongside the Super Bowl defending champion Los Angeles Rams. Kingsbury’s Cardinals were one of the season’s biggest disappointments long before Murray’s injury.
Kingsbury entered the 2022 campaign on the hot seat. Rightfully so. The Cardinals’ 2021 campaign ended in extremely disappointing fashion following a 4-7 finish to the season, paired with an embarrassing 34-11 wild-card defeat to their aforementioned division rival Rams. Murray’s injury shouldn’t change the evaluation of the job Kingsbury’s done. Cardinals general manager Steve Keim must see things clearly despite Murray’s untimely injury. Nothing has changed.
Kingsbury entered the season with a pedestrian record of 24-24-1. Kingsbury’s all-time NFL record now sits at 28-33-1. It gives Kingsbury a 46% winning percentage across four-and-a-half campaigns. The Cardinals have advanced to the postseason just once in four seasons under Kingsbury—that was via last season’s wild-card. Kingsbury has never won the division. The sample size is large enough to confirm Kingsbury isn’t capable of leading the Cardinals to greener pastures.
It’s worth acknowledging that firing Kingsbury would require a sizable financial commitment from Cardinals owner Michael Bidwill. Kingsbury was inexcusably offered, and signed, a six-year extension during the offseason. Keim signed the same extension, tying the GM-coaching duo to the Cardinals through 2027.
Keim and Kingsbury have collaborated on the majority of Arizona’s personnel decisions. Drafting Murray No. 1 overall remains at the forefront of their roster-building tandem. Firing Kingsbury and retaining Keim may not qualify as logical given the timing of their extensions. Will Bidwill be bold enough to fire both his general manager and head coach roughly one year into their long-term extensions?
The Cardinals currently own the No. 6 overall selection in the 2023 NFL Draft. They’re expected to add defensive help with that selection seeing that Murray is their franchise quarterback and they’ve invested plenty into the wide receiver, tight end, and running back positions as of late. In-house scout Keith Sanchez has the Cardinals drafting Oregon cornerback Christian Gonzalez with that pick in his latest NFL mock draft. Keim and Kingsbury may not be around to influence Arizona’s decision.
Murray’s injury will have a ripple effect on the Cardinals’ organization. It represents a haunting setback for Murray, who signed a five-year extension worth a staggering $230.5 million, with $160 million in guarantees earlier this summer. Murray had two years and roughly $35.2 million remaining on his rookie contract, including the fifth-year option. The extension tied Murray to the Cardinals organization through 2028.
The Cardinals remain committed to Murray as their quarterback of the foreseeable future. The organization will work through Murray’s rehab while preparing for his eventual return. Kingsbury shouldn’t be employed by the Cardinals when Murray next takes the field.