Kliff Kingsbury likes to act like there’s a quarterback battle in Arizona, but the truth is Kyler Murray is a lock to start for the Cardinals on Week 1.
The Cardinals may have flirted with the idea of drafting someone other than Kyler Murray with the No. 1 overall pick in the draft, but they aren’t going to be conflicted about who should start for them at quarterback next season. Kliff Kingsbury’s weak attempt to bill Brett Hundley as a legitimate contender to start Week 1 shouldn’t fool anyone.
Instead, Arizona fans should listen to General Manager Steve Keim on the subject. While Kingsbury told Jim Rome he wasn’t sure if Murray would open the year as the team’s starter, Keim was adamant in his interview Rich Eisen that the former Oklahoma star would get the nod. Keim summed it up succinctly when he declared they didn’t draft Murray to “ride the pine.”
In fairness to Kingsbury, it’s a head coach’s job to instill a spirit of competition in training camp. Simply bestowing a starting spot to Murray without him taking a single snap in practice might work against that ideal. Offering the rookie signal caller the chance to win the job could easily elevate the play of Murray and Hundley.
Keim is under no such pressure. He’d love to see competition on the practice field, but he also wants to make it clear that his franchise has a progressive plan to get Murray onto the field. No Cardinals fans want to hear that the No. 1 pick might spend any time learning from the sidelines. The only acceptable place for Murray to be during Week 1 is leading the Cardinals offense out onto the field.
It still seems a bit ridiculous that Kingsbury and Keim couldn’t get on the same page before making their media rounds on Thursday. Both men saying different things about the team’s quarterback situation does give the public a sense of uneasiness about exactly who is calling the shots in Arizona.
None of that matters when it comes to the possibility of starting Murray Week 1. Barring injury, the dynamic quarterback is going to get his chance to learn on the job immediately. His development throughout his rookie season is the most important thing Kingsbury and company need to manage this season. It’s hard to do that with Murray on the bench.