Hahahaha. This is almost too good to be true.
My genuine reaction upon seeing said delightful news:
The Indianapolis Colts were the guinea pigs of Hard Knocks In Season this past year, and hooooooo wow that's gonna be a hard one to top!! They shat the bed in Week 18 and got obliterated by the Jacksonville Jaguars 26-11 to blow a playoff spot.
I'm not sure there was a more carefully crafted, edited, set-up and shot segment of reality television in the history of mankind than this one after that demoralizing defeat in Duval County. Colts coach Frank Reich is way too composed for this situation. In spite of all the put-on-your-best-faceness about it, you can just see team owner Jim Irsay fuming below his cowboy hat and it's GLORIOUS.
Now before all 7,000 of you Arizona Cardinals fans come for my throat and defend your beloved quarterback Kyler Murray, let me tell you something. Once upon a time, I wrote the story about him initially committing to Texas A&M (Google "Kyler Murray Aggies land" and you'll find it if you're at all interested).
I predicted at the time, in 2014, that Murray, and I quote, "has the polish to be a Heisman Trophy contender […] and the upside to be one of the better collegiate QBs in recent history."
Well holy shit look what happened! Heisman at Oklahoma. No. 1 overall pick. One of the best seasons by a college QB we've ever seen. I've been pulling for this guy for a long time. So it pains me to say that he is, in fact, a diva. You'd have teammates caping a hell of a lot harder than they are for him if Murray were anything different.
Look at what he's doing this offseason. Want to change the perception around you, Kyler? Show the fuck up for OTAs. Let all your teammates know you mean business. Don't go into hiding and command a new deal after that fucking pathetic shit show of a playoff performance you put on. Could you look any less prepared?
Awesome. Your organization appeased you by bringing in your former Sooners wideout Marquise Brown in a draft-night trade. That's great. But wow. The NFC West is a difficult division. The pressure is on for the Cardinals to take a huge step forward this season. Every single year Murray has been in the league alongside head coach Kliff Kingsbury, Arizona has, well, fallen OFF A CLIFF.
Just to be clear: The above graphic was the best one I could find. Murray missed three of those contests, but Colt McCoy went 2-1 as a starter in his stead before Arizona's Week 12 bye in 2021. In the last six games leading into the playoffs, Murray went 2-4 for the Cardinals. Here were the opposing QBs and results from those games:
- Week 13: Andy Dalton (threw 4 INTs), 33-22 win at Chicago
- Week 14: Matthew Stafford, 30-23 loss to Rams
- Week 15: Jared Goff, 30-12 loss at Detroit
- Week 16: Carson Wentz, 22-16 loss vs. Colts
- Week 17: Dak Prescott, 25-22 win at Dallas
- Week 18: Russell Wilson, 38-30 loss vs. Seahawks
What's in the water in the desert? First we had the Cardinals suck yet again down the stretch. Then, we got Cliff Paul playing point guard for the Phoenix Suns.
At this juncture, I'm thinking Murray and Arizona will manage to work out a contract. IMAGINE IF THEY DON'T THOUGH. The fact that this is even a possibility is a godsend. Even if Murray's wishes are met, think about the tension that'll be afoot if Arizona has yet another late-season catastrophe on their hands. We all know Murray is still learning to handle adversity. I can cut him a break on that, because he's been the shit since he was a Texas high school legend and is only 24 years old. Growing pains through losing will happen. Where I take issue with Murray is the stuff he can control right now.
For as obviously talented as Murray is — world-class running ability, incredible arm talent, etc. — do you really think the Cardinals are amped up about paying him well over $40 million per year? I wouldn't be.
To be a franchise quarterback, you have to be uncommonly, uncannily mature to succeed for the long haul. Murray is too much of a temperamental wild card, at least at this juncture, to be a slam-dunk second-contract guy. When you also factor in his perpetual option to flee the NFL and play professional baseball, along with his so-far not sturdy 5-foot-10 frame…
You can thrive as a diva QB and win a power struggle. Just ask Aaron Rodgers. The problem is, Murray hasn't earned the right to be a diva yet. Win at least maybe one playoff game, or finish one regular season strong, then go on being a fucking weirdo who alienates part/most/all of the locker room and your coaching staff.
I swear Hard Knocks has gotten lame in recent years. But between kneecap-biting Dan Campbell and the Detroit Lions in training camp/preseason and the Kyler-Kliff Cardinals…I think we're on to something here!
Let me close on a positive note for the Arizona faithful, because most of what I've talked about is the potential soap opera we'll have on our hands. Superstar receiver DeAndre Hopkins should be finished with his six-game suspension once Hard Knocks cameras crash Cardinals headquarters. I'm certain he'll have plenty to say. I also think he could be the leader who could spark a change in Arizona's typical woes in the second half of the season. Hopkins was injured down the stretch last year, which contributed to the Cards' struggles. Between Hopkins, Brown and Rondale Moore, Murray has three legit weapons at wide receiver, and no real excuses not to ball out in 2022 if everyone can stay healthy.