Kyler Murray not discouraged by growing pains in new Cardinals offense

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Kyler Murray's face said one thing after the Arizona Cardinals got beaten easily Sunday by the Los Angeles Rams.

It wasn't hard to decipher: Arizona's franchise quarterback was frustrated by the 37-14 loss. The Cardinals' offense was stuck in the mud following an impressive opening drive, finishing with 292 total yards.

However, Murray's words indicated something else.

He was by no means happy with the result, which he described as the Cardinals' worst beating of the season. But he wasn't disillusioned by it, either, after missing the first nine games of the season while recovering from offseason surgery to repair an ACL tear in his right knee.

"This is my third game, seventh week of practice, there's obviously growing pains with this," Murray said. "It's my third game, a new scheme, new everything for me. So, I'm not discouraged at all by it. I know we'll be better because of it, but these are some of the things that we got to go through as part of it."

Once the Cardinals fell behind -- and big, trailing 21-8 by halftime -- Murray was essentially playing left-handed, as coach Jonathan Gannon described it. The Rams' defense was able to pin its ears back and go, and the Cardinals had to play one-dimensional football trying to get back into the game.

By contrast, Arizona's first drive of the game had gone about as smoothly as possible -- 12 plays, a balance of pass and run with a few explosive gains sprinkled in. It put the Cardinals up 8-0.

"Then just kind of went downhill from there," Murray said.

The Cardinals went three-and-out on their next four possessions. Next thing Arizona knew, it was down by 13 points.

That, Gannon said, was deflating. The next Cardinals touchdown came with about five minutes to play. Murray finished 27-of-45 passing for 256 yards and a touchdown. He also had a 2-yard TD run.

"We just got to find a better balance of getting in rhythm with the running pass game and making sure that we're staying on the field a little bit to give ourselves a chance to score points," Gannon said.

Murray put it bluntly.

"We just got our ass kicked," Murray said. "[We] played a good football game last week, won the week before. But this one, it was probably like the first time all year we just got beat terribly. We got to flush it and move on."

Arizona's defense had its own struggles, giving up 228 rushing yards, including runs of 56, 24 and 23 yards. That was the most frustrating part of the game to safety Budda Baker.

"Because that's how it all starts," Baker said. "They don't do those play-action passes and stuff like that without doing a good job on the run game. That was the emphasis this week, stopping the run, and we just didn't do that."

Gannon didn't believe Arizona matched the Rams' energy and enthusiasm, and, as he regularly does, he shouldered the blame for that. But he was optimistic that the tape would show that Sunday's performance wasn't as bad as initially believed.

"We got to take a good, hard look of how we're setting up the week because [it] really wasn't competitive in my mind," Gannon said. "And that's on me first, and the coaches next. So, got to put together a better plan going into Pittsburgh."

The Cardinals play the 7-4 Steelers on Sunday (1 p.m. ET).

Gannon said he plans to review how Arizona operates each day of the week, including the way the periods, practice plans and meeting times are organized. Though Gannon said he trusts his process, he's open to making tweaks to try to improve how Arizona manages its enthusiasm and energy.

Still, he doesn't think the situation has gotten to a point where he'll need to rip up how Arizona does things and start from scratch.

Heading into the last game before the bye sitting at 2-10, Murray can already feel the season flying by like it always does, he said. He'll head to the Cardinals' facility in the morning, watch the tape and relive all the aggravation and frustration, and by Tuesday he'll start moving on to the next game.

"Obviously, we're not where we want to be right now," Murray said, "but you got to keep going."