Eagles Today Editor Ed Kracz turned to SI All Cardinals Editor Donnie Druin for five questions about Sunday’s opponent, the Arizona Cardinals.
The two teams will play at State Farm Stadium at 4:25pm Sunday on FOX.
The Eagles are 0-4 at State Farm Stadium since it opened in 2006, and Arizona coach Kliff Kingsbury is 6-0 against NFC East teams dating back to 2019.
Here is the Q&A with Druin.
Q: How is Kyler Murray dealing with expectations after his contract extension and have you seen him improve since last year?
Donne Druin: To be quite honest, Kyler Murray hasn’t really moved the needle in terms of change. The organization was in a place where they basically tied themselves to Kingsbury/Keim/Kyler and Murray knew it was going to pay off in the summer. He seems more vocal than anything, but his maturity and decision-making still has a way to go.
Murray is still the best quarterback this franchise has seen since Kurt Warner, and his play often shows the brilliance that earned him a Heisman at Oklahoma. However, Murray is still very inconsistent in stretches where he shouldn’t be, and until he can figure out the best things to be a passer in this league, he won’t take Arizona to that next level. Paying Murray was the right (and only) option the Cardinals had, but his play so far hasn’t matched the paycheck he’s received.
Q: From afar, it looks like the Cardinals have had trouble running the ball, why do you think that is?
Druin: The Cardinals have been very mediocre in terms of running the football, and to be honest, it really is a team effort when we analyze their performance. Their offensive line, already considered halfway through the season, has struggled with injuries. Their starting running back James Conner, who is also starting to battle the injury bug, is averaging 3.2 yards per carry while getting twice as many touchdowns as the next running back.
Kyler Murray, whose biggest asset is his ability to make plays with his feet, seems stuck when it comes to rushing the ball. All in all, it’s up to Kliff Kingsbury to put his pieces on the board to succeed. Part of that is not falling early in games and going heavy, and the other part is just better play.
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Q: Do you feel Kliff Kingsbury needs to make the playoffs this year to keep his job?
Druin: Oh man, this is the golden topic of conversation here in the desert. As I already said, the Cardinals are committed to the GM-HC-QB trio through 2027 with their contracts, and with that in mind, firing Kingsbury in the first year of the new extension might scare away any potential suitors new job.
Still, results ultimately matter, and for a team that has so much talent and potential to completely fall apart over the past two seasons, how patient is ownership willing to be? You just paid your quarterback mega bucks and the careers of JJ Watt, Zach Ertz and DeAndre Hopkins are coming to an end. I think the pressure on Kingsbury to lead his troops into the playoffs is very real, but I think the fashion or how they finish will be telling.
If the Cardinals not only fail to win a playoff game, but miss the postseason, there are some serious conversations to be had, but it’s hard to see owner Michael Bidwill starting from scratch after this year unless the team reflects a collapse similar to last season.
Q: Who is an under-the-radar player on both offense and defense?
Druin: Offensively, I’ve always been a fan of receiver Antoine Wesley. His length (6-foot-4) could be critical for a Cardinals WR corps that is notoriously short. Wesley was just activated from injured reserve and his role for Sunday is unclear. However, his presence, especially with Marquis Brown on the field, should give him plenty of opportunities to do damage deep down the field.
Defensively, it’s hard not to pick outside linebacker Dennis Gardeck. Ever since Chandler Jones left, the Cardinals have been looking for a presence opposite Markus Golden, and Gardeck has taken full advantage of his playing time. He’s a highly mobile guy who somehow fills the stat sheet despite not being the biggest, fastest or strongest. He’s very popular here, and for good reason.
Q: What is your prediction for the final score and why?
Druin: I have the Eagles winning 28-17. There’s no reason for Philadelphia not to come into State Farm Stadium and lead all the way, especially with how bad Arizona has played in the first quarter and at home. Offensively and defensively, Arizona is unmatched. The Eagles just aren’t the Panthers, and if this is the week the Cardinals really get their act together, I’ll eat crow sitting on the bird’s nest in Glendale.
Ed Kracz is the editor of SI.com’s Eagles Today Fan Nation and co-host of the Eagles Unfiltered Podcast. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles the www.eaglesmaven.com and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.