NFL

Murray enjoys 'little more freedom' in coach Kingsbury's absence as Cardinals improve to 6-0

By Sports Desk October 17, 2021

Arizona Cardinals star Kyler Murray said he enjoyed a "little more freedom" in the absence of Kliff Kingsbury after the NFL's hottest team preserved their perfect start to the season.

Kingsbury missed Sunday's clash against the Cleveland Browns after testing positive for coronavirus, but the high-flying Cardinals – the only undefeated franchise remaining – still won 37-14 to improve to 6-0.

Defensive co-ordinator Vance Joseph and assistant head coach/special teams co-ordinator Jeff Rodgers stepped up to share responsibilities in Kingsbury's absence, while assistant wide receivers coach Spencer Whipple was calling plays in Murray's ear.

Murray was 20-of-30 passing for 229 yards and four touchdowns as the Cardinals won six straight games for the first time since Weeks 7-16 of the 2015 season.

"I think once we got the news, it was just an opportunity," Cardinals quarterback Murray said post-game.

"Kind of exciting to go prove ourselves on the road against a great team. I think you could feel the energy before the game."

"That may be a product of not having a coach out there, just having a little more leeway," Murray said after becoming the first Cardinals QB since 1950 with a 100-plus passer rating in five of the team's first six games of a season.

"I guess that did give me a little more freedom, just to whatever I did see, go with it and that's what Whipple's saying to me the whole time: 'Whatever you see'. And I stick to that same rule, as long as it makes sense. You got a plan and go with it."

The Cardinals are 4-0 on the road and have won each game by no fewer than 12 points – in their franchise history, Arizona had never won four consecutive away games by double digits.

On Kingsbury's absence, stand-in coach Joseph added: "It was really seamless".

"It's been an up and down week, but our team leaders were great all week," Joseph said. "No one wavered, no one blinked. The staff didn't blink. Every day it was bad news and no one blinked - not one time. Even yesterday. Even Saturday morning at practice when the players knew that Kliff was down for the game, there were no worries.

"There was really an excitement to go play a really good football team. The boys performed. This staff is amazing. It's a great football staff. It's our third year all together and that helps - having continuity like this."

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