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Like His Young Cardinals, Kliff Kingsbury Knows He's Still Learning

Kliff Kingsbury gives late instructions to Kyler Murray in 2019 season opener against Lions

One of the reasons the Cardinals decided to hire Kliff Kingsbury as head coach was his willingness to admit he would have things to learn as an NFL head coach.

That was hammered into Kingsbury Sunday every time the Cardinals’ offense went three-and-out or went nowhere for much of the game, and he wasn’t about to let his ego erase that reality Monday after the Cards’ season-opening tie against the Lions.

“It’s a different level from where I was coaching before,” Kingsbury acknowledged. “I said it since (quarterback) Kyler (Murray) got here, we’re going to grow together and take some lumps together. Just try to keep getting better each day. That’s the goal.”

Kingsbury immediately took the blame post-game for the early horrific offensive showing. The Cardinals had just six points and 100 yards heading into the fourth quarter before their rally to force overtime.

The talk for weeks was how vanilla the Cardinals had been in preseason. Kingsbury said it wasn’t that he was trying to make any kind of statement with the plays he was calling, but instead that he was just “overly creative.”

“You just have that much time all summer, you watch a bunch of film and come up with new-fangled ideas when you should’ve probably just made sure you were calling things the quarterback is comfortable with,” Kingsbury said. “I didn’t feel any pressure to be creative or, ‘Hey, this is the offense we’re going to run.’ I was just trying to score points. I got a little out of whack in the play-design and it affected the entire unit.”

That acknowledgement resonates with the players.

“It’s part of the growing process, because we are still trying to find our identity as an offense,” tight end Charles Clay said. “That’s what good coaches usually do – they put the blame on themselves and pass out the credit. At the end of the day, it’s the first game. There are going to be some growing pains.”

Offensively, it came down to the reps the Cardinals did – and didn’t – have over the offseason. Kingsbury said he should’ve stuck to more plays that the offense had repetitions with often during practice.

And for a second straight day, Kingsbury was also willing to acknowledge that keeping so much under wraps in preseason games – choosing secrecy over testing things out against live opponents – might’ve been a mistake.

“Anytime you haven’t executed exactly what you’re going to do offensively in a game environment against very good people, it’s going to be hard to replicate that,” Kingsbury said. “There’s that give and take there – do you want to not show anything or do you want to get reps under the lights? We chose one, and I don’t know if it affected us or not, but I’m going to look into that going forward.”

How the Cardinals evolve, offensively and otherwise, will be Kingsbury’s main task as the season rolls along. Furthering his chemistry with Murray – whom Kingsbury believes never got into a rhythm because of the playcalling – is paramount not only to offensive but overall success.

The coach knows he can get better.

“It means a lot when both players and coaches can own up to what they’ve done,” wide receiver Damiere Byrd said. “Sometimes it gets lost, (people say) it’s always the players that make mistakes. But when the coaching staff understands they are in the growing process, it helps that team chemistry.”

A chronological look at the regular season opener against Detroit

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