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Kliff's Unique Playcalling History, And Wednesday Before The Saints

Nothing is changing yet, but the possibility of Kliff Kingsbury having someone else call plays remains part of the conversation. He was asked Wednesday if it would be his decision or someone else's -- presumably GM Steve Keim.

"We have not had that conversation with upper management, if you will," Kingsbury said. "Like I said. If there is a better way to do it, I am open to it. After six games, we have not played good enough, and I understand it."

To Kingsbury's credit, he has handled the questions matter-of-factly -- which is in line with his personality. What it would be like for him to not have that role, he can't say.

"I've never not done it, so it'd be a unique experience," he said.

Quarterback Kyler Murray was asked directly this week if he thought that was something Kingsbury should do. Murray shook his head at the (for him) no-win question.

"Come on, dog," Murray said.

Asked more generally about the current criticism of Kingsbury, Murray gave a longer response.

"I don't really worry too much about it, because the people on the outside don't really understand the nuances of the offense of what's trying to get done," Murray said. "They just see the result. It's not good. I'm getting talked about. He's getting talked about. That's just the nature of the business. That's the nature of the game, so everybody on the outside, it doesn't matter."

-- Retirement had been in play for the offensive line of the Cardinals this past offseason. Center Rodney Hudson had thought about it, and so too did guard Justin Pugh. Both returned to play. Hudson has struggled to stay on the field, the knee that gave him pause to play in the first place continuing to act up. And now Pugh, who had dealt with a neck issue and an elbow issue was dealt a season-ending blow with a torn ACL.

The Cardinals are left to scramble a bit on the offensive line. And Pugh is left on the doorstep of potential retirement again.

"I know he had pondered it in the offseason and he's got some other stuff going on, but it's just unfortunate (the injury) happened," coach Kliff Kingsbury said. "He's been such a great piece since I've been here filling in whatever spot we asked him to. He's a great leader. He and D.J. (Humphries) had great chemistry on that side of the ball, so you hate to see that happen to a guy like that."

The Cardinals hate to see it because it throws the line back into a certain amount of chaos – and for a team struggling offensively, that's never ideal. Max Garcia seems to be the probable replacement for Pugh against the Saints, but at some point, they are going to want to get Cody Ford on the field (he remains on IR with his ankle injury). Hudson won't play against the Saints either, and while he has had some ups and downs, what Hudson brings mentally to the offense can't be dismissed.

-- In games DeAndre Hopkins and J.J. Watt have played together for the Cardinals, the Cardinals have not lost (7-0).

-- The State Farm Stadium roof will be open for the game, the first time this season the roof will be open. Dress accordingly.

-- I don't know what to expect from Hopkins in his first game back, but I will be surprised if Murray doesn't target him often. I know the Cardinals couldn't generate points against the Seahawks, which was the worst defense in the league going into last weekend, but the Saints too have struggled. They are one of four teams that have allowed at least 20 points in every game, and they are allowing 30 points a game over the last three. I'm sure Hop has to be happy about that matchup (especially if CB Marshon Lattimore is out.)

-- The reality is that Murray has been a different QB the past season-plus when Hop is available and when he isn't (numbers courtesy of NFL Research; obviously doesn't include the three games Murray and Hopkins both missed in the 2021 regular season):

Table inside Article
Kyler since 2021With HopWithout Hop
Won-Loss8-23-7
Completion Pct71.664.9
Passing yards per game278.2246.8
Passing TDs-INT19-911-5
Passer Rating106.084.9

-- One last time to see the black alternate helmets this season. The Cardinals will wear them with their color rush jerseys (black with red numbers) against the Saints.

-- The game, if you aren't there live, will be streamed nationally on Amazon Prime (and on Twitch). If you are in the Valley, you can also watch it over the air on Fox 10.

-- It's still up in the air who the Saints will play at QB, but a former QB turned … tight end? He's one to watch. Taysom Hill is still an offensive weapon, even if his title is vague, listed as tight end but with only one catch for two yards and still a bunch of QB snaps.

Hill has 35 snaps at QB, 17 in tight alignments, 10 in wide alignments, and 6 from the slot in 2022, according to NFL Next Gen Stats. He already has 267 yards rushing on only 26 carries, and seven of his 27 touches have resulted in a "big play" – in this case, runs of 10 or more yards.

-- Rodrigo Blankenship will get a chance to kick Thursday as the Cardinals moved on from Matt Ammendola assuming Matt Prater remains on the shelf. Part of the reason Blankenship was let go by the Colts after the opener wasn't just a missed 42-yard field goal in overtime but also two kickoffs out of bounds. Usually the kicker isn't one to watch, but let's face it, everyone will be watching.

-- The last word goes to defensive coordinator Vance Joseph, who was also asked about the criticism Kingsbury has been under. Joseph, of course, is the one-time Broncos head coach.

"It's part of the job," Joseph said. "Most coaches don't read it or listen to it. It's just part of the job. The team is not winning, we are 2-4, that's part of the territory. Obviously, Coach is a good coach and he's been a good coach for a long time. That hasn't changed. It was a rocky offseason, to say the least. To watch this offseason and assume it was going to be smooth early, you're a fool.

"It's been rocky. But he's fighting, and I'm fighting with him."

See you Thursday.

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