The Cardinals were without head coach Kliff Kingsbury against the Cleveland Browns due to a positive COVID test. No powerful edge rusher Chandler Jones either due to another positive COVID test. No All-Pro center Rodney Hudson with a ribs injury.
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Arizona had to lean on Kyler Murray calling audibles, backup QB Colt McCoy’s communication and offensive line coach Sean Kugler along with assistant wide receivers coach Spencer Whipple to call plays.
No Kingsbury? No problem for star QB Kyler Murray.
On a third down and 21 in the first quarter, Murray rocketed a ball to Christian Kirk for a touchdown in the endzone to make it a 7-0.
The lack of experience with center Garcia and Murray was apparent, accumulating three fumbles in the first half. That wouldn’t prove colossal as the Cardinals scored on all five possessions in the first half, leading 23-14 at the half.
The Cardinals gave up zero points in the second half and that had largely to do with the play of J.J. Watt, Markus Golden and Jordan Hicks. All three combined for three sacks, including a Watt strip-sack which was recovered by Arizona.
Arizona was methodical in the second half on offense, finding ways to get DeAndre Hopkins, Christian Kirk and A.J. Green the ball in crucial downs.
They are now 6-0 and still remain the only undefeated team in the NFL. After flying to Cleveland, the Cards will head back to Arizona to face an underwhelming Houston Texans squad in Week 7.
Murray Tweets After Win
The Cardinals’ social media account posted a picture of Baker Mayfield and Murray together after the game. Both were teammates at Oklahoma in 2017, with Mayfield winning the Heisman trophy and Murray as the backup quarterback. Murray would also win the Heisman the following year.
Six minutes after the post, Murray took a little jab at the first overall pick in 2018.
Mayfield’s Browns lost to 38-24 Murray’s Cardinals in December of 2019. Now, Murray is 2-0 against Mayfield and both wins are now home and away victories.
Of course, after the tweet, Murray told the world that they’re brothers just like the Cardinals’ Twitter account first mentioned.
Both were first overall picks for their respective teams in back-to-back years. Mayfield on October 13 told the media that Murray loves to talk trash behind closed doors.
“With him, there’s always something. There’s always a little bit of trash talk,” Mayfield said. “We see each other quite often in the offseason. He might show it differently, but behind closed doors, he’s quite the trash talker, so don’t let him fool you.”
Murray can attest to Mayfield’s comments. Murray used to get under Mayfield’s skin back in the Oklahoma days as well.
“Obviously, he was the guy, but I’d give him s*** all the time,” Murray said. “It was fun, it was competitive but, at the same time, we had the best quarterback room in the country. We knew it. The confidence and swagger about the room, it was unmatched.”
Between the two, Murray easily had the better day, having a 129.0 passer rating and four touchdowns and no interceptions. Mayfield took five sacks and had one interception and fumble.
On the sack and fumble by Watt, Mayfield dislocated his shoulder again. But Mayfield thinks he will be able to play against the Broncos in four days on Thursday Night Football.
Coaches Stepping Up
Arizona had to lean on Murray calling audibles, backup QB Colt McCoy and offensive line coach Sean Kugler along with assistant wide receivers coach Spencer Whipple to call plays.
Murray had no issues at all with the plan.
“The operation was really smooth,” said Murray.
Murray did fumble the football four times but all were recovered by Arizona. The inexperience showed with center Garcia, but everything seemed to work on the offensive side of the ball.
Christian Kirk had to call out someone after the game, in a positive manner of course.
“I gotta give a special shout out to Spencer Whipple,” said Kirk. “A special guy, a special coach. The fact that he stepped in, took over the reins, called the right plays and listened to the guys on the sideline. He did a great job.”
Whipple was given the reigns to the offense alongside Kugler, the offensive line coach.
Defensive coordinator Vance Joseph, who used to be a head coach with the Denver Broncos, is seeing so many good things with not just the players, but the staff as well even with Kingsbury out.
“It’s been a rough week,” said Joseph. “Our team leaders were great all week. No one wavered. No one blinked. It was really excitement to go play a good football team. This staff is amazing. It’s our third year all together. That helps. It was aggressive. We didn’t miss a beat on offense. It’s the way Kliff would’ve called the game.”