GLENDALE, Arizona – When Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray and coach Kliff Kingsbury sat down to talk during Murray’s first two seasons in the NFL, their conversations centered around football – the offense , plan and strategy.
As Murray enters his third training camp, discussions between the quarterback and coach matured, as did their relationship, which began when Murray was a 15-year-old rookie in high school and Kingsbury was the coach. -Head of Texas Tech.
It’s “getting better and better,” Murray said.
“Our conversations are now more about philosophical things, team-oriented things, what we need to do as a team to improve ourselves, to solve this problem,” Kingsbury said. “He really makes it his own.”
Murray’s growth and development on the pitch was noticeable in the first week of training camp. He looks bigger and a bit faster. He’s also entering Year 3 with a better understanding of offense as he tries to bring the Cardinals back to the playoffs for the first time since 2015.
Kingsbury feels Murray has taken more “ownership” of the Cardinals, and without Larry Fitzgerald, Murray is the undisputed face of the franchise.
“The whole place is feeling it, the whole organization,” Kingsbury said. “When a guy steps in you can tell it’s his team.”
The teammates have already seen a different Murray a week after the start of training camp.
“A lot of growth, a lot of growth,” said wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins. “I would say the most important thing is just that he communicates with us outside of football, and just tries to get to know his teammates.”
“When your quarterback is [feeling confident], and your quarterback is having fun, the team is rallying behind that, ”said tight end Maxx Williams.
The changes have been evident this offseason, Kingsbury said. Murray was “a lot better than the first two years, when I think he felt like the weight of the world was on him and he had to be perfect in every game,” Kingsbury said. “He understands now, in this game it’s not about that. It’s about finding a way to the end.”
Murray doesn’t fully embrace the idea of not achieving perfection, but remember he didn’t lose in high school and lost three games in college. He lost 10 in his rookie season and lost 18 in two years with the Cardinals.
“Just because it’s the league, I’m not trying to be average. I never will be,” Murray said. “I always strive to be perfect. Obviously, being perfect is very difficult.… Maybe not a thing. But we’re going to get closer and we’re going to try to do it.
“No one is ever going to be perfect. People are going to mess it up. You’re going to make mistakes, throw interceptions, grope the ball, stuff like that. But how to bounce is part of the game.”
When mistakes do occur, many see Murray’s body language, language that shows frustration, anger, or annoyance. His head will be thrown back and he will raise his hands to the sky. But Kingsbury sees the growth and Murray sidelined.
Murray will find the player who made the mistake or was part of the game that ended in a mistake and talk to him.
“At first he was just trying to survive, trying to keep his head above water as a rookie quarterback, trying to figure it out,” Kingsbury said. “And now he can have those times where he’s frustrated but he’s still going to go to the guy and talk about it and lift him up and so that’s really good progress.”
Murray settles into his role as team leader. With that come the pressures. But Murray may be better equipped to handle it now. And, for the Cardinals, that’s what they want from their franchise quarterback.
“He’s definitely in his best place mentally for this camp,” Kingsbury said.