Bickley: Cardinals commissioned for Rams without Kyler Murray in QB

The NFL doesn’t like fights between back-up players. It’s bad TV. It’s bad for advertisers. It’s bad for business.

On Sunday, that’s exactly what Arizona Cardinals coach Cliff Kingsbury needed.

On a day when style points didn’t matter, the Cardinals provided plenty of them in a 27-17 victory over the Los Angeles Rams. Their attack worked on time and with rhythm. He provided backup quarterback, Colt McCoy, in ways that Keeler Murray never did. AJ Green looked better than he had in years.

The entire process seemed orderly and punctual, enabled without the quarterback’s franchise.

The ramifications are staggering, especially if you see how comfortable Kingsbury seemed to be on the sidelines when interacting with McCoy, and how often the controversy seems to be with the $230 million quarterback.

To be fair, the Rams were running up the drain long before Matthew Stafford missed Sunday’s game in concussion protocol. Los Angeles is not a good team. It’s a team that takes a lot of solace in the championship ring, and it’s a team with a serious Super Bowl hangover.

But the road wins in the NFL should not be questioned. This sparks new controversy, perhaps even putting the seeds of controversy in the middle in the very near future.

At the roots of Arizona’s attacking dysfunction in 2022 is a pivotal question: Is Kingsbury in a desperate position above his head as head coach in the NFL? Or do his offense design failures and erratic play also call for the manual labor of Murray, a quarterback who can sometimes be fickle and limited in his field of vision?

The affair took a new twist during the week’s ninth loss to the Seahawks, following a side altercation between Murray and DeAndre Hopkins. In real time, Murray seemed to be frustrated and grieved, and Hopkins should be to blame. But HBO’s cameras provided sound and clarity, revealing an incredibly wide receiver that Murray had never seen running for free in the open space.

McCoy’s immediate start on Sunday gave Kingsbury an opportunity to offer some clarity, and perhaps even hope, for the future. For the third time in four starts spanning two seasons, the Kingsbury and McCoy mix secured a solid victory.

It’s an astonishing development as Kingsbury looked oddly bolder on Sunday, throwing 11 consecutive passes to start the game, and scripted an opening drive with the kind of success rarely seen with Murray behind the center. He seemed to turn his attention to critics who say he needs more balance and rush in his attacking style.

It’s great because no one regrets that Murray didn’t play through a mild injury in a must-win game on Sunday, the way Josh Allen battled it through an elbow injury, on a day when four different players walked onto the field at SoFi Stadium. Because no one seems to miss him.

It’s great because, after all, Kingsbury needs to succeed with Murray the way he thrives with McCoy. but how?

Great question. For now, they all live to fight another day.

You can reach Bickley at [email protected] Listen to Bickley & Marotta songs from 6 to 10 a.m. on Arizona Sports 98.7.


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