The Arizona Cardinals have played three games without starting quarterback Kyler Murray. Had this been another year, he might have hurried back and returned at less than 100%.
He did it last year. “He played through and kind of toughed it out, but probably wasn’t able to be 100 percent most of the back-half of the season,” head coach Kliff Kingsbury said last week.
He knew that he had to play if the team was going to have the chance to win.
We saw what happened when Chris Streveler played last year in Week 17.
This year, it is different. With Colt McCoy as the backup, Murray doesn’t have to rush back. The way he led the Cardinals to a win against the San Francisco 49ers in his first start with the team, it surely made Kingsbury a believer, but it also likely gave Murray the confidence to know that he can trust his backup to keep the team playing at a high level.
One of the reasons why the team signed McCoy is because Murray already had a huge level of respect for him, having watched McCoy be a star in Texas when Murray was young.
Having a capable backup is such a security blanket. It feels like 2014 when Carson Palmer went down with a torn ACL. With Drew Stanton, it felt like the team could still compete. He went down and their playoff run ended with Ryan Lindley at the helm, but this year it feels the same way.
Murray isn’t done for the season but if he needed to miss more time, or if for some reason he were to go down for the rest of the year, the Cardinals would still compete.
With Murray, they are legitimate Super Bowl contenders. With McCoy, they are at minimum, not going to fall apart, and at best, able to compete in the postseason.
McCoy’s play will allow Murray to be physically well down the stretch.
If the Seattle game had been a playoff game, Murray probably plays at less than 100% and risks further injury.
Now he will have have had five weekends to rest and rehab to be ready for the final six games.
The result should be a great finish.
And now that McCoy has proven to be more than capable, he has likely earned a spot on the roster for as long as he wants to play in the NFL.
Cardinals extend lead in NFC West in Week 11
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