The Arizona Cardinals open their preseason this Friday when they host the Dallas Cowboys at State Farm Stadium.
Franchise quarterback Kyler Murray, according to head coach Kliff Kingsbury, plans on planning.
That’s a mistake.
Not that there was much doubt, but Kliff Kingsbury said QB Kyler Murray will play some snaps in Friday's preseason opener against the Cowboys at State Farm Stadium.— Darren Urban (@Cardschatter) August 9, 2021
Due to the ongoing pandemic, numerous Arizona Cardinals were negatively affected by the lack of a preseason slate in 2020.
Kyler Murray was not one of those individuals.
Murray set fire to the NFL through the first half of last season, helping the Cardinals reach a sparkling 6-3 record as a result. His early season production was not at all hampered due to the lack of preseason reps. In fact, it wasn’t until a mid-season shoulder injury at Seattle that Murray’s MVP level of play began to slightly diminish.
To object such a critical player to meaningless snaps, especially when you consider how precautious Kingsbury has been with his players throughout training camp, seems reckless on the part of the Cardinal head coach.
If you think that sounds overly critical, consider the following from Ram’s head coach Sean McVay:
If you foolishly thought you’d see Stafford in the preseason, think again.— Cameron DaSilva (@camdasilva) August 6, 2021
McVay: “There is zero chance you will ever see Matthew Stafford take a snap in the preseason for the Rams as long as I'm the coach.”https://t.co/3DI2LkWSih
Keep in mind that not only is Matthew Stafford learning a completely new offense while adhering to new coaches and teammates, McVay himself rarely if ever plays key contributors during the preseason.
If you care to argue that point, maybe first acknowledge his .672 winning percentage as head coach of the Rams.
The rationale that a third year Arizona coaching staff needs live reps from their impact veteran players in preseason unfortunately says too much about where the Cardinals stand when compared to their divisional peers.
We already know that Kingsbury isn’t changing the large majority of his 2020 offense, one that Murray has reportedly already “mastered”.
Cardinals QB Kyler Murray 'mastered' offensive system, emerging as leader https://t.co/rEnFanjHyw— Jess Root (@senorjessroot) June 12, 2021
Please keep in mind that this is not a hit piece on the NFL Preseason.
Far from it.
Potential rookie contributors such as Zaven Collins, Rondale Moore and Marco Wilson will all benefit from live snaps against opposing teams. Second year fringe players like Eno Benjamin and Evan Weaver will welcome the opportunity to showcase what was all but stolen from them during their 2020 rookie campaigns.
Andy Isabella and KeeSean Johnson, once thought of as key pieces to the Cardinal offense, are currently fighting for their NFL likelihoods given the plethora of talent the team has opted to bring in at receiver.
Their fight will most likely be settled during the preseason, whether they’re showcasing their abilities to Steve Keim or an opposing front office.
The point of the matter is that the NFL preseason absolutely has it’s place and I can understand the excitement in wanting to see Kyler Murray take the field for the first time since January 3rd.
But ask yourself if one or two meaningless series is worth risking the health of the single most important player on the roster.
FWIW I wouldn't play Kyler Murray at all in the preseason.— Johnny Venerable (@JohnnyVenerable) August 9, 2021
The Arizona Cardinals have their eye on postseason play, a feat they cannot possibly achieve without a healthy Kyler Murray.
So take a cue from your buddy in LA, Kliff, and sit your franchise quarterback.