Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury didn’t seem to be too worried about his former fourth-string quarterback Chad Kanoff signing onto the practice squad of his Week 1 opponent, the Detroit Lions.
When asked, realistically, how much Kanoff could reveal of Kingsbury’s plans for the offense this year, here was his response (with a perfect amount of deadpan sarcasm):
“Pretty much everything. Whatever he says is exactly what we’re going to run in the game. So it’s tough for us.”
Kingsbury has obviously kept the offensive system for Arizona and rookie quarterback Kyler Murray pretty secret this offseason. The preseason game film has been very vanilla, leaving many to wonder if he has anything up his sleeve for his own and Murray’s first NFL game in their respective roles. But Kingsbury believes that narrative is a little too dramatic.
“There’s 10 years of play calling—you have a body of work that you can draw from,” Kingsbury said. “So regardless of the level, there’s plenty of film out there that, just like I really don’t know they’re going to run defensively based upon last year’s film—they’ve had all summer to tweak and change, and we’ve had the same. So I think that’s been overblown a little bit.”
Kingsbury, of course, gained national attention for utilizing the Air Raid offense at Texas Tech at an extremely high level. In his six seasons there, the Red Raiders only went 35-40 overall, but his offense flourished in the Big 12. Three times during his tenure Texas Tech finished in the top 20 in points scored, two of which landed the Red Raiders in the top five. He also helped mold the careers of Baker Mayfield and Patrick Mahomes.
He’s now hoping to do the same with first overall pick Kyler Murray, and he’s already been impressed by the progress he’s seen... and he’s been following Murray for a while now.
“I’ve followed him a long time, since freshman or sophomore year in high school, so I’ve seen the development,” Kingsbury said. “I think the thing that jumps out at me is he continues to get better, and that’s hard to do when you’re that talented and you’re blessed with so many gifts. But he continues to work at his craft and get better from year to year, and that’s what we hope happens here.”
Neither will have it easy in their first NFL start. The Lions boast a fearsome defensive line— one that Kingsbury called “one of the best fronts in football”—and Darius Slay, a corner that, according to Kingsbury, is capable of taking any offensive weapon out of the game. But for Murray, it will be about trying to not do too much in his first NFL game.
“It’s not easy starting Day 1 as a rookie quarterback in this league,” Kingsbury said. “We understand that, so I want him to just relax, know he doesn’t have to win or lose a game by himself, and go out there and do the best that he can.”