3 contributing factors to the Cardinals collapse in 2021

(Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images) Kliff Kingsbury
(Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images) Kliff Kingsbury /
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Arizona Cardinals
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) Kyler Murray /

Ailing Kyler Murray

To be fair to Kingsbury, quarterback Kyler Murray has fared no better. Of course, Murray missed time with an injury in 2021 and tried to play through an AC sprain in 2020. And in Murray’s defense, some of his numbers weren’t bad.

In 2019, Murray logged a 13 to 8 touchdown to interception ratio in his final eight games, while posting at least a 65 percent completion rate in four of those games, and dipping under 61 percent just once.

In 2020, he recorded a 10 to 5 ratio, posting a 65 percent completion rate or better in six games. And when he returned from injury in 2021, he boasted a 7 to 3 ratio and a 65 percent completion rate or better in four of those final six contests.

So what gives? One reason the Cardinals have suffered frequent meltdowns is that lesser of a threat with his legs as the season wears on. While Murray may look like a pocket passer at times, he is and always will be a dual-threat. Take away his ability to run, and you have a mid-tier passer at best.

In his final eight games of 2020, he averaged less than 4.0. yards per carry five times and scored just three times on the ground. While this was not the case in 2019, Murray became less of a threat to score with his legs at the goal line, scoring just two rushing touchdowns.

He also rushed well after returning from his ankle injury in 2021, but once again, he was a non-factor near the goal line. You can argue Murray did not score often with his legs earlier in the year for an entire month. However, his yards per pass attempt dropped below 7.0 yards per pass in 13 of those 22 games – eight in 2019 and 2020, and six in 2021.

That, compounded with an inability to move the ball beyond the plane, cost the Cardinals offense. Murray is at his absolute best when he logs at least 10 carries. It occurred in nine of his first 13 wins as an NFL quarterback. Case in point, the Cardinals need to let Murray make more plays with his legs to open up the passing game.