Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray has been locked into completing his rehab from a torn ACL suffered at the end of last season.
But while he’s focused on the task at hand, hoping to reach his lofty goal of returning in Week 1, the signal caller hasn’t been oblivious to what’s going on around him.
For the first time in his career, he is experiencing a near-overhaul of the coaching staff and front office along with a new philosophy and offensive identity. It’s easily the biggest change the QB has undergone since coming to the Cardinals as the No. 1 overall pick in 2019.
And from the sounds of it, Murray feels invigorated with the transformation taking place inside the organization.
He said so in the latest episode of Cardinals flight planwhich chronicled the signal-caller’s journey back from his ACL tear to now, and where his thinking is ahead of Year 5.
“As far as the chip on my shoulder and the type of energy I’m coming in with this season, I feel free in a way, especially with the change upstairs and the organization,” Murray said. “I feel like they’ve done a great job since they’ve come in. Holding people accountable, management. … The way we’re going, I personally feel like the sky’s the limit.
“It’s pretty different for me, but it’s been seamless,” the QB added. “Me and (Jonathan Gannon) hit it off. He sees things the way I see things. He can relate to the guys and he really feels like he believes in the guys and is trying to get them better, me better. I feel like you will run through a wall for that type of guy, and that’s the type of energy he brings.”
It was a refreshing change of pace from Murray less than a year removed from a dismal 2022 campaign that ended with a 4-13 record and the franchise quarterback on the sidelines.
It was a fall from grace for a team that had made progress year after year with Murray running the show.
A rocky start to the year did the QB and the Cardinals no favors.
“I feel like since I’ve been in the league, all we’ve done is step up,” Murray said as his knee was worked on by a trainer. “I got better every year. And then to hit a wall in year 4, especially after going through the whole contract, I got COVID-19 in camp, I hurt my wrist in camp, so I missed a lot of those reps.
“Then trying to play catch up during the season, it was like a collection of (expletive) things going on. … I’ve done everything right as far as off the field, on the field. I try to treat people the right way way, but it is what it is. I think winning cures everything, and it’s been hard to do that with some of the circumstances we’ve had to deal with.”
Kyler Murray trusts the process
Aside from his thoughts on the coaching staff, Murray delved into the ins and outs of his knee injury suffered last December in a loss to the New England Patriots.
The QB, who has stayed relatively healthy for most of his career, knew from the moment he hit the ground that something was wrong.
“I’ve never felt that before. I just sat on my back and looked up and it was like everyone was…blurred. I cried when we were driven off the track and then it all hit me. I am one of those people who believe that everything happens for a reason. But I didn’t know (ACL tear).”
Murray ended up having surgery on January 3rd. A day later, he was back in the training room to begin the process of getting back to full strength.
“Nobody can really prepare you for what it’s (expletive) going to feel like. After the injury happened, I ‘prepped’ for two weeks or whatever, and it wasn’t too bad. After the surgery, the first two weeks were terrible. It was hard to move. You’re just a little helpless.”
Fortunately for Murray, the quarterback had a number of people in his corner to help him get through the tough times of recovery.
That included his father, Kevin Murray, who has served as a receiving target to help keep his son’s arm healthy during the rehab process.
“It’s about your mindset, nobody wants to feel sorry for you,” Kevin Murray said. “He will improve as a result of not only the injury but how they played last year.
“It’s the first time he’s ever been injured, the first time he’s ever left the field on a cart, the first time he’s ever had that feeling. He’s got new leadership in town and he’s excited about it, and the best of Kyler is yet to come.”
Murray is still without a concrete timeline, though he has set his own goal of returning in Week 1.
Back to Norman
Among the out-of-state trips throughout the episode, one in particular held a special place in Murray’s heart — his return to Oklahoma for the unveiling of his Heisman Trophy statue.
And right there to take it all in was a contingent of Cardinals that included Gannon and new general manager Monti Ossenfort, among others.
Their presence was not lost on Murray.
“Just having them there, the support from rip, they’ve only been in the building for maybe a month or so,” Murray said.
“For them to fly out to Norman in the middle of nowhere during the draft to come see me and my statue put up, that was a big deal.”
Israel Woolfork makes an impression
Away from his rehab, Murray also has a new offense to learn.
And while he hasn’t been able to participate in organized team activities or minicamp this offseason, the QB is still processing the new scheme from a mental standpoint.
New quarterbacks coach Israel Woolfork has been among those who have really helped Murray understand the new offense.
“This is a brand new offense, new system, terminology, but I’m picking it up pretty quickly. He’s been a big part of me picking it up, Woolfork,” as well as passing game coordinator and wide receivers coach Drew Terrell and offensive quality control coach Connor Senger, the quarterback said.
“Watching the other quarterbacks take reps and stuff and me getting mental reps, it’s been great,” Murray added. “I think it’s new for everyone. We’re all learning at the same time. It’s not just me.”
Woolfork enters his first season with the Cardinals after spending two seasons with the Cleveland Browns as part of the Bill Walsh NFL diversity coaching fellowship (2021) and the Bill Willis coaching fellowship (2022).
As for Murray’s hobbies? They have changed a bit over the course of the QB’s football career.
As well as hitting the sticks for a session of Call of Duty with the boys, Murray also spoke about his addiction to shopping, while also touching on his newfound interest in travelling.
“I’ve never really been able to go sightseeing or anything like that. I had never been on holiday as a child. My first holiday I was probably two years into the league. I had never been on vacation just because of football, basketball, baseball,” he said.
“Now that I’m getting older, you only live once. I want to go out and see more and go to different places and experience different things. Nothing crazy.”
These various locations include Hawaii, where Murray still managed to get in rehab work.