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Kliff Hanging

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NFL: Arizona Cardinals- Kliff Kingsbury Press Conference The Arizona Republic-USA TODAY NETWORK

To anyone hanging with Kliff Kingsbury yesterday at the NFL league meetings yesterday was amusing and informative, but ultimately and mysteriously inconclusive.

Here are some snippets of the copious sound bites that the Cardinals new head coach offered the media:

Kingsbury said:

* Re: Larry Fitzgerald ---”I’ve never seen anybody win at life the way he does. He’s got it figured out.”

* Re: the Cardinals moving back the players’ reporting day from April 1st to the 8th: “It’s a scheduling deal to make it more compact.”

* Re: Kyler Murray---”He’s one of the better dual-threat players to ever play.”

* Re: the #1 pick in the draft---”We are still in the information gathering stage.”

* Re: Josh Rosen---”People have said a lot of things (about Rosen) that are misconceptions.”

* Re: Nick Bosa and Quinnen Williams: “They’re can’t-miss prospects.”

* Re: Josh Rosen’s confidence: “Have you been around Josh? I don’t think he needs help with the confidence factor. And that’s what you love about him. He’s got very thick skin. All of this kind of falls off his back and he’s ready to go prove what he can do.”

* Re: what he likes about Kyler Murray---”I mean, I guess it’s more---what don’t you like? When you watch him play, I mean he can run it, he can throw it, he’s a competitor.”

*Re: Josh Rosen as a fit in KK’s offense---”Josh is tremendous player. I’ve always thought looking at him at UCLA he played his best football in a spread system that has some similarities with what we do. He’s a tremendous thinker, very cerebral, can throw it with anybody.”

* Re: Josh Rosen’s play down the stretch last year---”I feel like he got better as the season went along last year.”

* Re: Johnny Manziel---”He’s a tremendous talent. I have always said that if he can stay focused, the sky is the limit.”

* Re: his players’ focus and giving them cellphone breaks after 20-30 minutes in meetings: ““You start to see kind of hands twitching and legs shaking, and you know they need to get that social media fix, so we’ll let them hop over there and then get back in the meeting all refocused.”

NBC’s Mike Florio and his co-host Charene Williams had some interesting things to say about Kingsbury, Rosen, Murray and what the NFL wants the Cardinals to do with the #1 pick.

Williams said she met with Andy Reid first at the breakfast meeting and then rushed over to Kliff Kingsbury. She said that Kingsbury spoke very highly of Josh Rosen, but then was “effusive in his praise for Kyler Murray.”

Note: my own reaction to this is that I felt Kingsbury was more praising of Rosen than ever before and was more detailed in offering contexts---such as Josh playing his best football when he played in the spread at UCLA as a freshman. The way Kingsbury described Josh yesterday, it felt like there would be no reason to use the #1 pick on another QB.

But, then some tinctures of doubt started creeping in. There were two things that Kingsbury said that struck me as somewhat debatable about Josh: (1) that he has thick skin; (2) that Josh got better as the season went along. Those statements felt like a sales pitch, either in building up Rosen to coach him up, or to attract trade partner. After all, and Kingsbury knows this---the power of suggestion can be very attractive.

When Kingsbury talks about Kyler Murray he always uses superlatives---and that’s why so many pundits are convinced that Murray is Kingsbury’s #1 choice for QB. Even Mel Kiper believes this now---and while Kingsbury is trying his best to maintain that he can adapt his system to pretty much any QB and especially to Josh Rosen, Kiper acknowledged that Kingsbury could adapt his offense to Rosen in his ESPN video yesterday, but then Kiper exclaimed that Murray opens up Kingsbury’s offense in every imaginable way.

Therein lies the crux.

For those who are still adamant that no one really knows what Kingsbury’s system will look like in the NFL, just go back and watch what Kingsbury’s system looked like with Patrick Mahomes. Many pundits see Mahomes-type elements in Murray’s game and can envision Murray being in full command of Kingsbury’s spread the way Mahomes was, and just the way Murray was in Lincoln Riley’s spread.

And if Mike Florio is correct, the NFL wants the Cardinals to keep the entire NFL universe in suspense right up until the pick is made. Talk about a Kliffhanger!

However, Florio made a key point---if the pick does come down to the wire and they Cardinals intend to pick Kyler Murray, they need to have a contract signed by him before the pick is made---a contract that has a no switching back to baseball clause. Therefore, Florio believes that word of that contract will very likely get out before the pick is announced.

Florio is correct, because if the Cardinals don’t have a signed contract before the pick is made, they lose their leverage.

The greatest dilemma the Cardinals will have, if they intend to select Kyler Murray at #1, is whether to put the wishes of the commissioner and NFL publicists over the well-being of the QB they traded up to select last year. Imagine what it would be like for Josh Rosen to participate in 2 weeks of Kingsbury’s team meetings and workouts and then watch the Cardinals take Murray at #1. That would be like having to watch your fiancee leave you in New York minute and having to watch her marry another man a day later on video.

If the Cardinals have respect for Rosen’s well-being, they should do what the Steelers did with Antonio Brown. Put Rosen on the market and tell teams that by the end of the week they will either go with the best offer or keep him. But running Rosen through the ringer on draft night and making him the subject of draft rumors and the innuendo as to why the Cardinals chose Murray, could easily and tactfully be avoided.

What the Cardinals do with the #1 pick seems fated to be a Kliffhanger, one way or another.

On a final note, Kliff Kingsbury highlighted the significance of having the #1 pick in the draft when he said yesterday, “You want to be thorough when you have the #1 pick. That’s a pick that can change your organization for years to come.”

And...there is no question that Kliff Kingsbury intends to be the Cardinals’ head coach for years to come, as he just bought a lavish $4.7M mansion in Paradise Valley...which certainly adds extra significance to the word “spread.”