The Cardinals sit at the bottom of the NFC West with a 3-6 record, far below their expectations and a far cry from their 8-1 record a year ago at this same point.
In the face of that regression, general manager Steve Keim has been willing to shoulder the blame.
“I bear a lot of the responsibility,” Steve Keim said Friday on Arizona Sports Burns & Gambo. “I think when you’re in this position you have to own where the mistakes come. When you have a good organization, which I think we do, and you have a good culture — you know — this is the time of year with this record that you start pointing fingers, and to me that’s not the kind of organization we want to have. I certainly own it. It’s a roster that I put together. You hope that roster becomes a team at some point that plays in unison, and we have not done a good enough job yet. So I certainly own that.”
At the same time, he made it clear that he has full confidence in head coach Kliff Kingsbury and the players to find a fix before the sun sets on Arizona’s season.
“I do have faith in the guys and the team and the players in the locker room, our coaching staff,” Keim said. “And I have confidence we can get this thing turned around.”
For an Arizona team that just signed its general manager and head coach to extensions through 2027 in the offseason and locked down its quarterback a year beyond that, it is imperative that the Cardinals show fight — if not results — down the stretch.
The five-year, $230 million contract Kyler Murray signed in July understandably puts the spotlight on him.
He’s throwing the ball more than ever before. He’s currently on pace to hit 680 passes, 122 more than his career high, but he’s been less efficient in those attempts with a career-low passer rating (86.9), adjusted yards per attempt (5.9) and touchdown percentage (3.3).
Still, the Cardinals’ struggles have been more the result of a perfect storm than solely a franchise quarterback not playing to the level he shown he’s capable.
The Cardinals offense has had to weather DeAndre Hopkins’ six-game suspension and lengthy injuries to running back James Conner and wide receiver Marquise Brown. The defense has dropped from 11th in both points and yards allowed in 2021 to 31st in points and 27th in yards this season. And Arizona is the third-most penalized team in the league with 64 through nine weeks.
“We just haven’t executed it good enough,” Keim said Friday. “And for whatever reason that is, I can’t put my finger on, but it’s something that we’re certainly working on every day, and it’s at the top of our list to fix.”
It’s gut check time for Keim, Kingsbury and the Cardinals. They have eight games to tighten up and make a run or be left with more questions than answers come January.
“You have to believe in what you believe in, trust your gut, trust your instincts,” Keim said. “I trust Kliff Kingsbury. I think he’s an excellent football coach and a great play caller. I think he’s gonna get it turned around.”
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