Background: Nov 21, 2022; Mexico City, MEX; Arizona Cardinals guard Will Hernandez (76) carries the Mexican flag onto the field prior to the game against the San Francisco 49ers in the first half at Estadio Azteca. Mandatory Credit: Rob Schumacher
Monday’s report that the Cardinals fired Sean Kugler for an “incident’ that occurred on Sunday night in Mexico City provides significant context as to why the team may have played so disappointingly on Monday Night Football versus the 49ers.
Imagine this, Cardinals players find out Monday am that popular OL/Run Game Coord., has been fired for an incident (which players might have some details or have to guess) and then at the Mexico City "home" game they run out of the tunnel being booed by 80,000 49ers' fans.— Walter B J Mitchell (@WBJMItch) November 22, 2022
The Mexican authorities notified the Cardinals that Sean Kugler had been reported to them for allegedly groping a woman, according to ESPN’s Josh Weinfuss.
Kugler is the second Cardinals assistant coach this year to be accused of sexual assault or domestic violence, the first being RB coach James Saxon, who was relieved of his duties months ago.
It was tough enough for the Cardinals to take on a red hot 49ers team that has won every one of their NFC West games (4-0) by double figures, let alone at a make-believe international “home game” before 80,000 rabid 49ers fans in a stadium that towers over 7,500 feet of altitude, while the team was getting booed running out of the tunnel, no less — but, that task was made far more difficult for a struggling team coping with the shock of losing a popular coach who may have just ruined his football coaching career.
If you ask any head coach what his biggest fear is heading into a key football game, he will tell you that it is anything that arises as a major distraction to the team prior to the kickoff or during the game.
You might recall, Bruce Arians was always admonishing his players: “DON’T BE THAT GUY.”
When the Arizona Cardinals players awoke to the news that Sean Kugler, one of the team’s most popular coaches, was being flown back to Arizona to go clear out his office of all personal belongings, they had an entire day at their hotel to talk about this shocking development.
Instead of their minds being fully on the game, they may have been focused on why and how they had just lost one of their coaches.
If the players knew the reason why, then, depending on what the reason was — which we now know is for being reported to the Mexican authorities for allegedly groping a woman — that could make their discussions more taxing.
Kugler had joined coach Kliff Kingsbury’s staff in 2019.
We learned from Kliff Kingsbury yesterday that one major factor in the decision to sit out a less than 100% Kyler Murray versus the Rams and 49ers was the shoddy condition of the Cardinals’ makeshift offensive line.
Colt was give that daunting task instead. And look at how Colt carpe-ed the proverbial diem versus the Rams.
It irks me to no end that a sizable number of Cardinals fans have dismissed the Cardinals’ 27-17 upset win in LA because in their estimation “the Rams suck.”
Well then consider this — just one week before — here is how well Tom Brady fared against the Rams’ defense, side by side with what Colt McCoy was able to accomplish behind an OL missing 4 of 5 starters:
- Tom Brady vs. Rams (16-13 win): 36/58, 62.0%, 280 yds. 4.8 ave., 1 TD 0 int, 79.7 QBR
- Colt McCoy vs. Rams (27-17 win): 26/37, 70.2%, 238 yds., 6.4 ave., 1 TD, 0 int. 96.5 QBR
It should be noted that Brady was playing at home, while McCoy was playing at LA.
Furthermore, since going 7-0 last year, here are the top 3 QBRs games for Cardinals’ QBs:
- 136.9 — Kyler Murray — @ CHI (33-23 W) 11/15, 73.3%, 123 yds. 2-0 TD/int.
- 119.4 — Colt McCoy — @ SF (31-17 W) 22/26, 84.6%, 249 yds., 1-0 TD/int (w/o Hopkins)
- 112.9 — Colt McCoy — @ SEA (23-13 W): 35/44, 79.6%, 328 yds., 2-0 TD/int (w/o Hopkins)
During the MNF game, from the get-go, I could sense there was something troubling Colt, other than, of course, being tasked with facing the 49ers’ formidable defense. He didn’t appear to have the excitement in his eyes that he typically has played with when he’s started games for the Cardinals.
Despite that, Colt played a very good first half. He was on schedule and accurate.
- Thanks to the defense forcing two 49ers’ punts, Colt helped to get the Cardinals up 3-0 on an 11 play 58 yard drive.
- After the 49ers went up 7-3, he had the Cardinals moving past mid-field and then beautifully converted a 3rd and 7 on a 10 yard pass to Hopkins down to the SF 40 yard line. Hopkins incurred the taunting penalty and then a couple plays later James Conner dropped the pass that wound up being intercepted.
- Down 14-3, Colt led an impressive 9 play, 75 yard TD rice to cut the lead to 14-10.
Under the circumstances, for the Cardinals to only be down 17-10 at halftime, this was more impressive than one might normally think.
Giving up an 8 play 75 yard TD drive to the 49ers on the first possession of the second half in what looked to be very easy fashion, due to soft coverage and poor tackling. set the tone for a second half that was throughly dominated by the 49ers.
After the game, DeAndre Hopkins was asked about the nature of his sideline conversation with Kyler Murray and Hopkins indicated that they were talking about what they could do when Kyler comes back. Yesterday, Kliff Kingsbury said that both Kyler and Hollywood Brown are “very close” to returning and both are champing at the bit to play. Kliff said a decision will be made on their playing status ASAP during the week.
Sensing that Kyler and Hollywood will return to action this week, I wanted to pay tribute to Colt McCoy’s efforts and remarkable achievements thus far with the Cardinals:
If Kyler is back this wk, want to laud Colt McCoy for pulling off the NFC West road game trifecta beating SF 31-17, SEA 23-13 and LAR 27-17. Only QBs to win 3 straight NFCW road games vs SF, SEA, and Rams were Warner (2008), Palmer (2015), the last 2 times won NFC West.— Walter B J Mitchell (@WBJMItch) November 22, 2022