Kyler Murray vexed by Arizona Cardinals' struggles on offense

Kyler Murray vexed by Arizona Cardinals’ struggles on offense

SEATTLE — The frustration from the brain trust of the Arizona Cardinals’ offense was noticeable after it failed to score an offensive touchdown for the second time this season and didn’t convert on three fourth downs in field goal range in a 19-9 loss to the Seattle Seahawks at Lumen Field on Sunday.

The loss dropped Arizona to 2-4, and its nine points were tied for the second fewest under coach Kliff Kingsbury. The Cardinals have yet to score 30 points this season and have reached 400 yards in a game just once.

Kingsbury said he has never experienced a stretch this long in which his offense has struggled.

“No, not yet since I’ve been a coach,” he said. “Just not being able to find rhythm as an offense, new to me. So, we’re going to continue to work at it. Personnel-wise, see how we can move things around, and scheme-wise, see how we get better because it’s a six-game view and it hasn’t been good enough.”

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    Quarterback Kyler Murray said Arizona’s offense hasn’t been this bad since his rookie year.

    “That’s the last time s—‘s felt this hard,” he said. “We just feel it’s tough out there right now. Tough. That’s what it feels like. A lot of it it’s self-inflicted, put it on ourselves. Gotta get better.”

    Murray didn’t go into detail about what’s been so hard for the offense but said the Cardinals continued to find themselves in difficult situations after productive spurts.

    “Just feels like we moved the ball, we get to a certain area, get a long first down, next play we’re second-and-10, that’s tough to do,” Murray said. “It’s tough [place] to be in.

    “We’re not doing things right right now.”

    The Cardinals finally were able to get off to the type of start they’d been striving for all season. They scored in the first quarter for the first time in 2022 on a field goal by kicker Matt Ammendola and racked up 131 yards — 56 fewer yards than they had gained in total during the first quarter all season.

    From there, however, the Cardinals’ struggles began again. On the first play of the second quarter, they failed to convert their first of three missed fourth downs. That was the point where things started to go awry, Kingsbury said.

    “I felt like we needed to convert that,” he said. “For a reason after that, it just felt like we lost some confidence or whatever. [We] didn’t play very good from that point on. Got to be able to convert those in that situation and unfortunately it didn’t work out and we didn’t recover well.”

    Arizona was 1-for-5 on fourth downs, not converting its first three in field goal range. Instead of taking the points, which could have brought the Cardinals to within one late in the game, Arizona walked away with nothing. Kingsbury, who has said in the past that analytics typically drive his decision to go for it on fourth down, said Arizona’s kicking situation factored into those decisions on Sunday.

    The Cardinals were without Matt Prater for the second straight game and didn’t have the faith in his replacement, Ammendola, who bolstered Kingsbury’s decision to continue going for it on fourth down when he missed an extra point on Arizona’s only touchdown of the game — Chris Banjo’s recovery of a fumble by Seattle kicker Michael Dickson in the end zone.

    “We’re normally aggressive on fourth down, but if Prater was here, probably at least a couple of those would have kicked at that point,” Kingsbury said.

    After the game, Kingsbury wouldn’t commit to his support of Ammendola if Prater can’t play again Thursday night against the New Orleans Saints.

    “We’ll have to discuss that,” Kingsbury said.

    The Cardinals’ issues on fourth down and in the red zone, where they were 0-for-2 on Sunday, were amplified to Murray because of how well they were able to move the ball at times against Seattle.

    “We just can’t finish,” Murray said. “Can’t finish. That’s the moral of the story right now is not finishing drives, not putting the ball in the end zone. Can’t win like that.”

    After gaining 131 yards in the first quarter, Arizona managed just 184 yards the rest of the game.

    “I gotta do a better job of making sure we’re running things that we can execute at a high level and be efficient and stay on schedule and score touchdowns,” Kingsbury said. “We just struggled throughout the season. So, it starts there, and then execution, routine plays that we make in practice and how we do it in practice has to carry over to the games, and right now it’s not for a reason.”

    Kingsbury said he knows immediately when one of his play calls is a “bad call,” but he also said it’s instantly noticeable when something Arizona worked on in practice doesn’t translate to the field. Murray agreed with Kingsbury’s assessment of the Cardinals not playing like they practice.

    “You could say that,” Murray said succinctly.

    Wide receiver A.J. Green chalked some of the Cardinals’ offensive issues to struggling with details.

    “We’re just not doing the little things,” he said.

    Murray threw for 222 yards and ran for 100 — the second time in his career he has reached the 200 passing yards and 100 rushing yards in a game — but Kingsbury felt like Murray is still finding his rhythm along with the entire offense.

    “I thought he ran the ball well on some of that stuff that we had called and a couple of times when he had to make plays, but we’re definitely not as in sync as we’ve been in the past as far as accuracy, timing, all those things, overall,” Kingsbury said. “We have to get there quick because it’s not good enough.”

    Receiver Marquise Brown left the game late in the fourth quarter with a foot injury. He was wearing a soft boot on his left foot in the locker room. Brown said X-rays were good but that he’ll know more about the status of his injury on Monday.

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