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With Kyler Murray At The Helm, Cardinals Bullish About Offense

Team runs for 200 yards again as QB plays well in Seahawks loss

Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray breaks off a 33-yard run Sunday against the Seahawks.
Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray breaks off a 33-yard run Sunday against the Seahawks.

A tough 21-20 loss to the Seahawks Sunday didn't mean there was a shortage of optimism in the Cardinals locker room, and a big reason was the quarterback everyone had been talking about for two months.

"(This team could be) a competitive, smart, tough team that is playing meaningful games right now," coach Jonathan Gannon said.

Even though the Cardinals finished the season 4-13, they got a glimpse of what the offense can be, with Murray leading the way to 466 yards against the Seahawks, a season-high.

Last weekend in Philadelphia, wide receiver Michael Wilson admitted that lack of time with Kyler was a reason why they struggled to connect. In the season finale, Wilson finished his rookie campaign with a 95-yard performance with his six receptions.

"It makes me really excited," Wilson said. "I'm kind of frustrated that this wasn't a couple of weeks ago. I think individually, speaking for myself, I feel like I needed time with Kyler to build chemistry and I know Kyler needed time as well."

Wilson said offensive coordinator Drew Petzing understands how to utilize the skillsets that the wide receiver room has with their mobile quarterback.

When Hollywood Brown or Wilson weren't seeing their names on the stat sheet, the disconnect was a concern. As the season has progressed, so has Murray's chemistry with Wilson and others. The timing has been invaluable to the quarterback.

"I think just being out there," Murray said. "You can't put a price tag on being out there with the guys and getting those reps. It's priceless really. The more time we're out there together, the better we'll be. I think we all saw that. We got better each and every week, so I'm looking forward to it."

The offense, with Murray at the helm, didn't have issues driving down the field against the Seahawks. In three of the last four games, the unit rushed for over 200 yards. Running back James Conner eclipsed 1,000 yards this season for the first time in his career.

The Cardinals surpassed 400 yards of offense four times this season; three of those came in the last four games.

In the first meeting between the Seahawks and Cardinals, a 20-10 loss in which the passing game was non-existent, Arizona was without Murray and Conner. Even with Sunday's loss, the Cardinals showed that the offense is entirely different with Murray at quarterback.

Murray finished with a season-best 262 yards passing, completing 22-of-30 passes and a touchdown pass to Trey McBride.

Finishing with a 3-5 record since Murray's Week 10 return might not look the best on paper, but the eight-game sample size of the offense's potential has reaffirmed he is the quarterback of the future.

Right guard Will Hernandez said that nothing has surprised him with Murray, knowing he and the offense "would come back better than ever."

"Normally everybody has ups and downs during the season, but the point is to get out of those downs as fast as possible," Hernandez said. "We learned a lot this year about each other, a lot of new guys playing next to each other that hadn't played together before. I think we learned valuable lessons on when we do have downs, how do we get out of those. The future is bright."