He may not have been in uniform Friday night, but Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray could still use what he did in practice in the weeks leading up to the first game of the season against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Murray helped list offensive plays during the fourth quarter of the Cardinals’ 36-23 win over the Bengals, along with co-pass game coordinator and quarterbacks coach Cam Turner. Murray passed his game through a headset to quarterback Jarrett Guarantano, who played the entire second half.
Murray was in charge of two actual series and then the two kneel to close the game, which coach Kliff Kingsbury says was not Murray’s favorite game choice after the game. Arizona went three-and-out on both Murray series — the “last thing I expected,” Kingsbury said — with three pass plays and two run plays.
Guarantano was also fired after a play. The Cardinals won a total of 15 yards in those games.
“He’s played some really nice plays,” Kingsbury said. “It just didn’t work out. There were a few guys open. He’s doing well. I’m impressed.”
Kingsbury did not give Murray any parameters on Friday night. Murray, however, wanted to throw the ball when Arizona got it back with 1:14 left, but Kingsbury put the kibosh on it.
“That wouldn’t happen,” Kingsbury said.
Kingsbury took off his headset in the fourth quarter and didn’t want to put any more pressure on Murray. Delegating a responsibility like playcalling was a bit of a relief for Kingsbury.
“I liked it,” he said. “I think the role of administrative head coach suits me. Maybe I’ll find out one of these days. I could sleep in a lot longer.”
“Yeah, it’s nice to be able to just take the general macro perspective and take it all in and not always get so absorbed in playcalls and stuff like that.”
Murray, who has not practiced since August 5 due to a sore wrist and then COVID-19, has called plays during training. He started calling them through a portable microphone and switched to the headset. Kingsbury wouldn’t commit to Murray calling out more plays during the off-season, saying “we’ll see,” but he wants to keep the quarterback involved somehow.
Earlier in the match, Murray found another way to get involved. He was seen by cameras distributing water to teammates on the sidelines. Whatever the role Friday night, Murray embraced it.
“He’s done a good job,” Kingsbury said. “He likes to do it, gets excited when good things happen and he’s a hard coach when bad things happen.”
Ben Baby from ESPN contributed to this story.