As Kyler Murray drove home from the airport once the Cardinals landed Sunday night following a road loss to the Houston Texans, he called coach Jonathan Gannon to talk about the game.
The quarterback on Monday watched the video back with QB coach Israel Woolfork. He did so with offensive coordinator Drew Petzing. Then he talked to Gannon some more.
"It kind of aggravates you," Murray said. "You get frustrated with 'How did this happen? How did we end up in that situation?' You go over all the mistakes and where we can get better.
"Tuesday you get the day off to get a head start on the next team, and that's when you got to get over it."
All of which works for Gannon.
"He's got fire in his gut," the coach said, "and that's cool."
If Murray's 2023 debut, a come-from-behind win over the Falcons, was a storybook return, the quarterback's second start in Houston was a reminder that all is not yet complete in his comeback. Gannon had said repeatedly during Murray's rehab that his path back to playing wasn't linear. Why would his path back once on the field be any different?
Over what has now been five weeks of practice and two games, Murray has had to put into practice not only a new playbook and communication with a new staff, but new footwork compared to what he had done all his life.
Hiccups in all those areas helped create enough trouble that prevented success in a very winnable game against the Texans.
"I planned on being undefeated in the sense of (after) two weeks. Obviously that didn't happen," Murray said. "It's difficult, because I didn't start the season and it isn't the outcome that I feel if I would've been playing we would have. Those types of things are out of my control. How can I get better? How can I move forward? That's what I have to focus on."
Murray has always taken losses hard. That did not fade with his time away.
"The way he owned it and the way he reacted was a very appropriate reaction – not that there is a wrong way," Petzing said. "You react the way you react. As you process, that's where the important part comes in. He did a nice job being honest with himself, with his teammates, with me."
The learning curve isn't going to suddenly flatten. While Murray's snaps under center fell from nine in his first game back to five, he insisted he enjoys being under center and Petzing said Murray's time under center will continue to be dictated by the matchup and offensive plan.
All his football life, Murray's footwork has been to start the play with his right foot forward. That is flipped in Petzing's system – and footwork is tied to timing on each play.
Petzing said Murray can make plays with "dirty feet" – improper footwork – but that is not the goal. The OC acknowledged he had expected to see Murray with more instances of poor footwork against the Texans, and the video revealed that wasn't so.
"I would not say he's struggled with it," Petzing said. "He's picked it up as fast if not faster than most of the guys I've seen make the transition."
Murray said he was OK with the new footwork although he acknowledged it was "still kind of a mind trick" to make sure he does it right. The QB had said after the game it came into play on his poor fourth-down throw to tight end Trey McBride.
"That was the first missed throw as far as missing the throw," Murray said. "Some throws the first game I didn't feel great about but we still completed them. This one was the most frustrating for me the past two weeks. I feel if we complete that pass, game is a little different."
In the end, Kyler will do Kyler things too, like the crazy fourth-and-1 touchdown run on which he acknowledged Wednesday he didn't think he would end up scoring on – until, in the moment, he found a way.
"Do I feel like I'm in a groove?" Murray said. "Getting there."
"I hope next season is different, a more normal offseason," he added. "That is something I look forward to. But right now I'm in the situation where I have to deal with it and somehow get better every week."
PRACTICE SQUAD MOVES
The Cardinals signed two players to the practice squad on Wednesday: Cornerback William Hooper and wide receiver Dan Chisena. Those were the only transactions, meaning the Cardinals did not open the practice window for two players on IR who are eligible to come off: Tight end Zach Ertz and guard Elijah Wilkinson.
Images of the Cardinals practicing at the Dignity Health Sports Complex before the Week 12 regular season matchup against the Los Angeles Rams