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Amen, KD

NFL: Arizona Cardinals at New England Patriots Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

Having spent most of the day yesterday hearing and reading from a number of Arizona media pundits such things as:

  • The Cardinals should have never lost to that pathetic defense in Seattle.
  • The Cardinals should have never lost to a lowly team like the Patriots.
  • Kliff Kingsbury needs to turn the play calling duties over to an experienced offensive coordinator.
  • Kliff Kingsbury chokes in the 4th quarter.
  • If the Cardinals do not make the playoffs, this season would have to be considered a failure and, at that point, one would have to assess Kliff Kingsbury’s future with the team.
  • Have NFL teams cracked the code on defending Kyler Murray?
  • One really has to question Kyler Murray’s leadership.
  • Kyler Murray is not having any fun playing football.

Therefore—-how refreshing it was to read this tweet from Kenyan Drake yesterday:

Amen, KD.

A gazillion times amen.

The truth is:

  • The Seahawks are in the playoffs every year and they are 5-0 at home—-but the Cardinals should have easily beat them in Seattle this year?
  • The Patriots have the most genius head coach all time who knows better than anyone alive how to stifle a good offense and its QB—-and while the Patriots had a clunker of a game in Houston, they beat Lamar Jackson and the Ravens the week before in Baltimore—-and a few weeks back they had held Andy Reid’s Chiefs and MVP QB Patrick Mahomes to 6 points heading into the 4th quarter at KC—-to say that the Cardinals should have beaten the Patriots in Foxborough is either blatantly naive or utterly obtuse. And the thing is—-the Cardinals nearly did win that game—-it wasn’t for lack of effort, that’s for sure.
  • Kliff Kingsbury in just 27 games has engineered an offense that is #2 in yards per game and #2 in rushing yards per game and #8 in scoring.
  • The fact that Kingsbury has his team competing hard every week and in every game (save the lopsided loss in Carolina) is a major success unto itself at this early point in his tenure. Go back to Arians’ last two years and Wilks’ one year—-those teams suffered numerous blowout losses. The fact is—-if Kingsbury had profited from better luck on FGs, not just in terms of the critical ones the Cardinals have missed in close games, but in terms of the opponents making every big FG all season, even every one from 50+ yards—-the Cardinals would be at least tied for the lead in the NFC West. If they do not make the playoffs, it is still a commendable accomplishment engineered by Kingsbury to have the Cardinals relevant and in the playoff chase two years removed from the worst record in the NFL.
  • The Seahawks were the first team to zone Kyler Murray on the read option plays. The Dolphins followed suit. Despite that, Kyler managed to deke his way into the end zone in both of those games. Versus Bills Kyler scored twice. In Seattle, Kyler injured his shoulder and the coaches did not want to risk calling their designed runs for him. Same to a lesser extent versus the Patriots. Clearly, the last weeks have been an anomaly because of Kyler’s shoulder injury.
  • Kyler Murray is a baller. He hates to fail and he hates to lose. His teammates speak very highly of his leadership. The Cardinals wouldn’t be in the playoff hunt without Kyler’s leadership. Actually they would be nowhere near it.
  • Kyler is not having fun losing. That’s something to value and appreciate in him. He is struggling mightily with giving in to the temptation to accept losses—-or—-even worse—-to give the appearance of accepting any consolation prizes when the team loses as it did coming off the bye week to the Dolphins despite Kyler putting up huge numbers: 21/26 passing for 283 yards and 3 TDs, plus 11 carries for 106 yards and 1 TD rushing. The fact that Kyler was so upset about the loss after the game is a tribute to his #1 priority—-to win football games.

There was one veteran Arizona sports pundit from the get-go who immediately called the Cardinals’ hiring of Kliff Kingsbury a “bold and bad move.” Here’s the article:

https://www.azcentral.com/story/sports/nfl/cardinals/2019/01/08/cardinals-hiring-kingsbury-bad-and-bold/2516029002/

Even when the Cardinals hit the Hail Murray to get to 6-3, Somers’ take was the play may have “save Kliff Kingsbury’s rear end:”

https://www.azcentral.com/story/sports/nfl/cardinals/2020/11/15/cardinals-hail-mary-vs-bills-might-have-saved-more-than-just-game/6307498002/

And now here is this week’s referendum from Somers following the tough loss in Foxborough:

https://www.azcentral.com/story/sports/nfl/cardinals/2020/12/01/arizona-cardinals-coach-kliff-kingsbury-faces-stiff-5-week-test/3786683001/

Somers joins a host of national pundits who have believed from the get-go that Kliff Kingsbury will be an abject failure as an NFL head coach and that an offense with Kyler Murray as QB will be unsustainable.

Meanwhile, the one player who is likely most responsible for the media push to question Kliff Kingsburys future with the Cardinals is receiving sympathetic support:

When Kliff Kingsbury was asked by Bickley and Marotta whether his faith in K Zane Gonzalez is wavering, Kingsbury calmly said, “It is not.”

To be honest, I believe that Matt McCrane is the most accurate kicker I have seen in Cardinal red in years—-but—-there is something stunning and refreshing about Kliff Kingsbury’s commitment to his players.

The irony is that the Arizona media always kowtowed to and fawned over the bombastic f-bombing Bruce Arians. They thought it was highly amusing that Arians would give players derogatory nicknames or call one a “failure in progress.” They were little lambs around Arians—-and now they are a pack of wolves around Kingsbury—-just as they were with Steve Wilks. Go figure.

Have the Arizona Cardinals ever had a head coach who is as supportive of his players as Kliff Kingsbury is?

Just ask KD.

Kingsbury has gone to bat for KD at every turn—-when KD returned to action in the Bills game and promptly made three big mistakes, the last of which was a costly fumble that led to a Bills TD—-what did Kingsbury do? He trotted KD back out and handed him the ball on the first play. KD responded by turning in a 100 yard performance. 106 yards in 16 carries for a 6.3 average, which certainly helped put the team in position to win that Hail Murray of a game.

Last Sunday versus the Patriots, KD scored two tough TDs and would have had a third on the 4th and goal at the end of the 1st half had he gotten a better push up front.

And this may have been lost in the shuffle, but, KD, your conversion of the 4th and 1 in the 1st Seahawks game—-the play that you injured your ankle one—-was one of the biggest plays of the season.

These days, I better understand Kliff Kingsbury’s faith in KD. I never envisioned Drake as a power, alpha dog runner between the tackles—-I always considered him a dual-threat utility RB—-but, man he is grinding his butt off, lowering his shoulder and fighting for every inch and every blade of grass. I was wrong about KD being all about the money. This dude wants to win and is willing to sacrifice for it.

So, thank you, KD, for putting all of the Arizona media negativity into keen perspective.

The most important thing is that your head coach and teammates have got your back and everyone else’s—-in good times and bad.

Do your teammate Zane Gonzalez a favor and show him your tweet...and remind him that rewarding people’s trust is ever so sweet .You know—-the kind of people you would take advice from.