Were the Cardinals stupid, or brilliant, to include a homework clause in Kyler Murray’s deal?

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On the surface, the decision of the Cardinals to put a homework clause in quarterback Kyler Murray‘s new contract looks like a colossal blunder. The team surely knew (or should have known) that someone would notice, and publicize, this unprecedented contract term. The team surely knew (or should have known) that Murray would look like someone who doesn’t spend enough time studying in advance of games. The team surely knew (or should have known) that it would look idiotic for giving so much money to someone who can’t be trusted to do the basic preparation work without a contractual obligation to do so.

Maybe, just maybe, the Cardinals are next-level geniuses. Maybe the Cardinals expected the blowback for Murray. Maybe they wanted it. Maybe they think that a little (or a lot) public shaming will get Murray to put in more iPad time.

Two years ago, the Packers used a first-round pick on quarterback Jordan Love with the arguable goal of lighting a fire under Aaron Rodgers. And it worked, to the tune of two straight MVPs. The reaction to the homework clause could be enough to motivate Murray to put in the effort studying film in advance of every game, to better know the strategies, coverages, tendencies, and tells of opposing players.

Watching film is tedious. It’s often boring. It requires great mental focus and concentration. But it can provide huge benefits.

For example, by studying the available film of every game that a given opponent has played, a quarterback may notice that an outside linebacker positions his feet a certain way when he’s going to rush the passer or when he’s going to drop into coverage. That one little find could be the difference between a first down or a punt, a touchdown or a field goal, a win or a loss, a playoff spot or a missed postseason, or a deep playoff run or a one-and-done.

The quarterback isn’t the only one who should be grinding film for these potential nuggets of useful information, but the quarterback helps set the tone when it comes to what should be a shared obsession with cracking the code of a given defense. And the tone gets set both for other players and for the members of the coaching staff who otherwise have plenty to do and must make time to, along with everything else, properly scour all tape in an effort to find the needle in the haystack.

Coincidentally, or not, the Cardinals have tailed off in each of Kyler Murray’s three seasons — as more film piles up and even greater discipline and dedication is needed to master it all. Coincidentally, or not, the teams coached by Kliff Kingsbury in Arizona and Texas Tech have had strong to quite strong starts that became anemic finishes.

It’s about working hard and working smart. Murray apparently has been doing neither, or at least not enough for the team’s liking. If they put the homework clause in the contract knowing it would get out, that it would prompt widespread criticism of him, and that it would potentially spark a fresh determination by Murray to have a new commitment to studying film, it could be one of the smartest things the team has ever done.

22 responses to “Were the Cardinals stupid, or brilliant, to include a homework clause in Kyler Murray’s deal?

  1. This is the team leader? You can’t prepare for your opponent if you don’t watch film and figure out their tendencies. I say blunder.

  2. They’re not brilliant. Made their QB look bad.

    Murray needs to be self motivated.

  3. No matter how you slice it, the contract language makes Murray look like a dolt.

  4. Being prepared, being a good teammate, putting effort in and leading the team are all traits that usually cannot be corrected from a very talented but immature little brat. Not to mention there is no capable coach on that teams that seems to be able to coach/improve/correct this issue. His ego is wondering why the Hall of Fame has yet to fit him for his gold jacket because of how great he is, this all spells an epic fail for Arizona. Both a bad hire, again, and bad use, again, of a first round pick on a QB.

  5. the clause is stupid, how do you know if he actually put in the time if he is doing it independently? really, that is like asking a high school kid to grade his own test’s in the privacy of his own room. ridiculous, i dont know who this clause makes look worse the team or murray? when your starting qb spends more time on fortnite then watching film, you may have a problem

  6. This story is even more galling but less quotable than the old Allen Iverson “practice” ramble. “Preparation? Who needs preparation?”, asks the guy with the fat new contract. Way to lead a team, Kyler.

  7. I don’t think there’s a limit to the lengths I would go to make the type of money Murray is. Couldn’t imagine not even being willing to watch.
    football tape.

  8. They would have been brilliant to trade him. Not the move many would make but that is why it is the brilliant move. This kid isn’t a franchise QB and it shows not only on the field but with his work ethic. In 2 years the Cardinals will want out from this deal. Now fitting all those players around Murray becomes more difficult and you will need him to carry the team. Look how his stats fared when he lost Hopkings. Teams need to wise up and realize that only 4 or 5 guys are worthy of such deals and you are better doing rinse and repeat with some of these guys, Lamar as well.

  9. This is a true debacle in a lot of forms. There is ZERO chance they reach the Super Bowl with Murray he’s too small and takes offrunning. The clause in here just looks silly do true leaders need to be told to study film and the playbook??

  10. When the dust finally clears, and it’s clearing now…..Keim will never work in the NFL ever again.

    With Chris Grier, one of the worst GMs of the last decade. Just horrible. The guy throws more darts at the wall than anyone, save for Grier.

    Ryan Pace, Grier, Keim, etc. Les Snead was on that list until last season, too. He’s still not good considering the amount of money spent and draft capital used. They’ll only eek out the one lucky ring and that’s it for them.

    It’s like this arrogance that you can not be held accountable in your job and not care, and then somehow keep your job making millions.

    It’s honestly a problem in the country in general. If you are a millionaire, you can do whatever.

  11. pkrlvr says:

    July 26, 2022 at 10:54 am

    I don’t think there’s a limit to the lengths I would go to make the type of money Murray is. Couldn’t imagine not even being willing to watch.
    football tape
    Sure but your not comparing equal things. Murray was going to get paid a ton whether he studies or not because of his physical attributes. Soooo now let’s compare to an actual similar scenario for you…Do you go above and beyond studying stuff for work while your at home? Not stuff you have to get done or want to get done just stuff that will make you slightly better at your job for a slightly better pay? No? Hmmmm

  12. Seriously??? Considering his position and the$$$ he gets paid, why is this even an issue the Cards has to address? Sad the state of today’s athletes! Good luck Cards!

  13. The day we start claiming Steve Keim is a genius is the day I watch nothing but pro bowling.

  14. Some things are neither Brilliant nor Stupid. Some things are just Necessary.

  15. This clause didn’t really make a lot of sense to me when I read about it. It seemed like it’s purpose had to be to publicly embarrass Murray into putting in more work. I mean first off four hours per week (about 35 minutes per day) of independent study is nothing. How does this compare to the number of hours of “independent” study Brady likely does per week?

    Secondly, how in the world can this be enforced? Will someone be hired to monitor him during his independent study time? If the team really wanted something enforceable and truly thought four hours was all the time needed, why not just increase the number of coaching hours per week to include additional hours of film study? The truth has to be that it was never about having Murray do four hours of additional film study time per week. It was likely about trying to get Murray to eat, breathe, drink football. The four hours were just the tip of the iceberg. If he’s not working on film study on his own, what else isn’t he doing on his own? Is he not putting in the work with his receivers or improving his throwing mechanics beyond practice time? Is he not working on his endurance and strength training? Is he not staying on a good diet?

    Just think though… If he truly hasn’t been doing any of those things, how good can he really be? What’s his true potential? What’s it going to take to get him to put in the work to unleash that potential? I’m pretty sure the team would gladly take the criticism if it means getting Murray to finally see what’s truly needed to play championship level football in the NFL.

  16. So who exactly in the Arizona organization going to be the Cardinal mother’ and say every night “ …did you do your homework Kyle?”

  17. It was smart of them to do it. Shelling out tens of millions comes with strings no matter how bad it made Murry look. Does anyone else get the vibe the Cards are gonna suck and suck bad the next five years?

  18. This won’t ever look like the Deshawn Watson deal, but i think pretty soon it will look similarly bad.

    He’s not tall enough, can’t run forever and got a obvious attitude problem.

    When the running QB’s are worked out, they always go in the same direction e.g. Cam Newton, Colin Kapernick and Lamar and Kyler won’t be far behind

  19. This seems more like a built-in excuse to void the contract guarantees than a legitimate device to get Murray to watch more film. Also, the late-season decline of the Cards can’t be explained by inadequate quarterback prep. Look at the numbers, and you’ll see that points allowed by the defense increases much more than any dropoff from the offense. And defensive coordinators earn some of their money by devising schemes that are either different from what the QB is used to seeing (in-game or on video), or disguised. Film study primarily helps with pre-snap reads, but it isn’t that useful against new defensive looks (ain’t on tape–they’re new) or well disguised coverages/schemes. Many times QBs who are confused by defensive looks have studied extensively, but the tape they watched doesn’t match the look they see at game time. If you watch four or forty hours of film of a team that usually plays two deep/man under, and then they play against you with a single high safety and keep the SS in the box and the CBs playing with a large cushion, of how much use was all that study?
    The typical signs of unprepared QBs would show up statistically, but Murray has a good completion percentage and doesn’t throw an unusually high number of INTs.

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