INGLEWOOD, California — There is no quarterback controversy after the Arizona Cardinals defeated the Los Angeles Rams 27-17 at SoFi Stadium on Sunday.
It’s Colt McCoy’s job to lose.
“As a backup, you never know when your opportunity is going to strike,” McCoy said. “Quite honestly, I want (Kyler Murray) to be healthy. He’s a phenomenal player. But in this situation, with linemen out, our backs against the wall, a division game on the road … I dug deep and was proud to go out there and play as hard as I can.”
I’m not saying this lightly.
Kyler Murray is the most talented athlete I’ve ever been around. If he had come up 20 years ago, he’d be a two-sport guy like Deion Sanders or Bo Jackson.
Murray is the most electrifying, most elusive, most exciting runner I’ve seen. It’s like he’s Reggie Bush and the rest of the NFL is Fresno State.
And he’s so accurate that he should have his own skin of Fortnite for players who get wins with a sniper rifle.
But the team played better for McCoy, and if Kliff Kingsbury and Steve Keim want to save their jobs and make the playoffs, they’ll make sure that Murray takes all the time he needs to heal from that tweaked hamstring.
For the sake of the franchise, let’s all hope Murray is learning as he rehabs.
Intangibles matter in the NFL.
Players know when they need to focus more. They see who shows up early and stays late. And they know who communicates a game plan most effectively.
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McCoy is not as talented as Murray. Never has been. Never will be. But he knows his strengths.
Like last year when Chandler Jones wasn’t making any plays. McCoy pulled Jones aside and said (and I’m paraphrasing here): “Hey, I don’t know you that well, and I don’t mean to say something out of line. But you’re Chandler Stinkin’ Jones. It looks like you’re thinking out there on the field. You should just remember that you’re one of the best ever and go play your game. Just go be yourself.”
Jones ended up with a pair of sacks in helping lead the Cardinals to a win.
That kind of motivation can go further than you might think if you’re an offensive lineman who has to go up against Aaron Donald and one of the most fearsome pass rushes of all time.
“I just tried to preach all week long that they’ve got the best player in the game out there on defense,” McCoy said after the game. “They’re a very good pass rush, and if the ball doesn’t come out on time, in rhythm, we’re not going to win the game.
“The execution side of what we did offensively worked. There’s a lot that played into it. I thought the offensive line did an outstanding job … I was playing with four guys I’ve never played with before. I just wanted to take care of them. They took care of me and played outstanding.”
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Murray is getting better, although there’s no immediate timetable for his return.
McCoy is hurt, too. We don’t know if it’s a knee or a hamstring or a cramp. But if he can walk, the Cardinals should start him against San Francisco in Mexico City.
Murray has to learn to help other guys relax, settle down and play their best ball.
And Murray has to learn to do things the easy way, like when McCoy found AJ Green on fourth-and-2 on Arizona’s first drive.
“I liked the matchup,” McCoy said. “I had (DeAndre Hopkins) on the frontside. But to me, it felt like the grocery store line: ‘If more people are over there, let’s throw it over here.’ I trust AJ … big-time play by him.”
The players I spoke with insist they can play to this level with Murray in the lineup, and maybe that’s true. We just haven’t seen it this season.
And this shouldn’t be considered a permanent move.
But for the next couple of weeks, this is McCoy’s job to lose.
His intangibles can get the Cardinals in position for the playoffs.
By taking time to learn those intangibles, Murray can get ready to help the franchise win a Super Bowl.
How to watch: NFL Week 11 schedule, television information
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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Moore: Arizona should keep Kyler Murray on the bench for Colt McCoy