Let’s start with the good news: the Cardinals got a very satisfying divisional win against the floundering Rams on Sunday. The offense was clean and efficient with Colt McCoy under center and the defense had no problems with Rams backup John Wolford (unlike in 2020).
The Redbirds moved all the way up to… 11th in the conference, still 1.5 games behind the Niners for the final wild card spot and, perhaps more relevantly, 2 games behind the Seahawks in the NFC West. We still have a long way to go towards playoff relevance this season, but 4-6 is much better than 3-7 and all but out of it.
But it’s not all sunshine and rainbows around the Cardinals after the win. While the win was much needed, there are now more questions than answers around this organization. Let’s start with what is easily the biggest non-story going around about the Cardinals… but one that won’t go away.
Mere hours after the game, AZ Central posted a nonsense clickbait article titled “No quarterback controversy in Arizona, it’s Colt McCoy’s job.” Please. The writer didn’t even have the conviction to believe his own premise, hedging with “for the next couple of weeks, this is McCoy’s job to lose.”
The job is only McCoy’s until Kyler Murray is healthy enough to resume starting duties. Hamstring injuries are notoriously finnicky, so it shouldn’t surprise anyone if Kyler is out longer than expected. But with no ifs, ands, or buts—Kyler is the starting QB for the Cardinals. Period.
Yet there are many fans and observers out there—including in the RotB comments—that say the team would be better off with McCoy under center than Kyler. Those folks aren’t exactly crazy. I mean, Colt is 3-1 over the past two years when filling in for Kyler. And your eyes don’t deceive you—the entire offense ran more smoothly and efficiently against a pretty good Rams defense with Colt leading the way than it has with Kyler all season (and even going back to late last season).
But, again, as soon as Kyler is healthy, he’ll resume his normal starting duties. There is no “controversy.” So why won’t this non-controversy go away?
The Kliff Question
It’s because Sunday’s win made one thing crystal clear: there is probably something irreparably broken with the Kliff/Kyler pairing. Anyone with two eyes and a rudimentary knowledge of the game of football can tell that Kyler is a vastly superior talent to Colt. Yet something just looks… off with the Cardinals offense when Kyler is playing.
It’s not like Colt blew anyone’s socks off on Sunday—he threw for 238 yards and a TD, and the offense gained fewer than 300 yards total. But the stupid penalties, the negative plays, the mental errors mostly seemed to vanish on Sunday. Things just looked… smoother.
The perception seems to be that Colt is “a better fit” for the offense than Kliff wants to run. He makes his reads a bit quicker, gets rid of the ball a bit earlier, doesn’t stall things trying to extend plays.
Don’t get me wrong—those are great traits. Kyler could—and should—learn a few things from Colt. But you remember what I said above? About how Kyler is clearly a more talented player? Well, he is, and he’s also making tens of millions of dollars more than Colt. He’s not going anywhere anytime soon unless something very weird happens.
So if Kliff can’t get more out of Kyler, or if Kyler isn’t responding to Kliff, then the solution is obvious: one of them needs to go.
Now, I’m no football wizard, but if given the choice between a former #1 overall draft pick/former Heisman winner/dynamic dual threat QB or a guy who has only posted two winning seasons in 10 years as a college or pro head coach, I’m choosing the QB. Every time.
But this is the Cardinals, about as dysfunctional an organization as there is in the NFL. We’re the team that just did this.
Losing Eno (Like Finding Nemo, But The Opposite)
Like most of you, I was gobsmacked by the sudden release of Eno Benjamin. Here’s a player who fought for and earned his role with the team this season, was a local hero (Go Devils!), and had outproduced every other back on the roster this season. This came out of absolutely nowhere.
Reportedly, his release was related to his frustration with reduced playing time now that James Conner was healthy. The phrase that keeps coming up is “vocal displeasure.” But he’s hardly the first guy in NFL history to be miffed at seeing the field less. This should have been an actual non-story.
Instead, Steve Keim or Michael Bidwill or whoever is actually in charge of this team decided to just release him, maybe to save a few bucks.
Eno had a lot of value as a player and a person. There’s 0% chance this team is better off without him on it. He’s leaps and bounds better than the likes of Keontay Ingram and Darrel Williams, and he’s unquestionably been better than James Conner this season—and there aren’t many more injury-prone backs in the league than him.
This was clearly not a decision made by on-field play. Maybe it was about money, maybe it was about pride (how dare a player express dissatisfaction with playing less), or maybe it just shows how incompetent this front office really is. If this team was *really* serious about a playoff push, then there’s no defense for releasing a player like Eno. None. At the very least, he had trade value in the offseason. The fact that he was immediately claimed by Houston tells you that. And this team is in dire need of draft picks after mind-bogglingly stupid moves like the Robbie Anderson trade.
I just don’t know what this organization is doing anymore. I thought after the Seahawks loss a couple weeks ago that we at least had a bit of direction—fire Kliff and Keim in the offseason and hire some adults in the room to repair Kyler and rebuild around him.
Now, we’re faced with the almost-unfathomable possibility that we might trade Kyler and try to rebuild with Kliff and Keim. If Michael Bidwill signed off on releasing Eno for no reason, then it’s not a stretch to think that he’d side with his incompetent front office over his immature but talented starting QB.
As a fan, I’ll take every win the Cardinals can get. And Sunday’s win was a good win.
But this one might prove to be even more damaging than any loss.