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As Coaching Search Moves On, Kyler Murray Factor Looms

Whether an offensive or defensive coach, developing quarterback crucial

Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray faces months of rehab after tearing his ACL.
Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray faces months of rehab after tearing his ACL.

The sun was out, the season was about to start and Monti Ossenfort was there.

And he and the rest of the Titans front office saw a game that unfolded poorly, as Pro Bowl quarterback Kyler Murray diced up their team.

That's the main memory Ossenfort, the new Cardinals general manager, has of Murray, his (currently injured) quarterback. Murray was excellent that opening day in 2021, all his skills on display as he threw for four touchdowns, ran in a fifth and completed one ridiculous pass to Rondale Moore in which he used his scramble skills to run back and forth in the pocket before his improbable completion.

Murray is light years from being that guy right now; he is only a couple of weeks removed from his ACL surgery and hasn't even begun the rehab process.

But as the Cardinals and Ossenfort look to hire their next head coach, Murray will be within the equation in determining who that might be.

"We're looking for a head coach that can lead this entire organization," Ossenfort said. "We're looking for a head coach that can develop all the players, with Kyler being a big part of that.

"We want the right coach. Whether that's an offensive coach or a defensive coach, it frankly doesn't matter. We want the best coach and we have a plan for what we are going to be as an organization."

Now that Ossenfort has been hired, the coach search has ramped up as promised.

Internal candidate Vance Joseph, the team's defensive coordinator, got his interview Wednesday. The Cardinals reportedly talked to former Colts head coach (and one-time Cardinals assistant) Frank Reich on Tuesday and are looking to interview Broncos defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero. News broke later Wednesday the team had requested permission to talk to Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn.

Those previously reported as targets are 49ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans and Sean Payton, although as the days go by it seems less likely Payton would ultimately land in Arizona.

It wouldn't be a surprise to see the candidate list grow either; to think Ryans would be the only potential interview among the final NFL's final eight coaching staffs seems far-fetched.

As of now, only Reich and Payton come from the offensive side of the ball. If a defensive head coach is hired, the spotlight on the hire of the new offensive coordinator will be almost as intense, given the need for Murray to improve his game and get back to the guy who lit up the Titans in Nashville.

None of that can happen until Murray is healthy. And until the Cardinals get a timeline on the rehab, Ossenfort can't even know for sure.

"We want to do everything in our power to help him get healthy," Ossenfort said. "We want to see him out on the field.

"I've seen what a healthy Kyler can do. I did a lot of work on Kyler coming out of Oklahoma. I know that he is extremely talented with both his legs and his arm and yeah, (the injury) does represent a challenge for us. We'll be ready for it but the first order of business is getting Kyler healthy and helping him in whatever manner that is possible."

The top 100 images taken by the Cardinals team photographer during the 2022 NFL regular season, presented by Earnhardt Auto Centers.