A couple of weeks ago this game had an entirely different look. Two improbable Houston Texans victories have vaulted them into the playoff race. Given the records involved and the numbers behind the scenes it would seem obvious that this would be a continuation of the Texans winning streak. Yet, Kyler Murray is in his second game back and he has been a borderline franchise starter in the past. As we know, anything is possible with a franchise quarterback. Is Kyler Murray one? That is where we began our conversation with Seth Cox from our sister site Revenge of the Birds.
Battle Red Blog: The NFL is a quarterback driven league and with Kyler Murray getting the big extension last season, how are Cardinals fans feeling about their quarterback? Are they sticking with him or would they rather take their chances with one of the big prospects coming out next season?
Seth Cox: I think with how the contract for Murray is structured it would be best if he continues to play well and they keep a top pick that they can trade for a bushel of picks and build around Murray, or draft a lineman on either side of the ball.
The problem with moving on from Murray is that it accelerates dead cap and then the Cardinals veteran presence next year will be similar to this season. So, if they can find a way to keep Murray going in the right direction, then add a couple of solid veterans, and continue to draft well then your rebuild will be quicker.
If you move on from Murray, you cut yourself off from free agency in 2024, and you have to take a quarterback early. So, ‘24 is probably a lean season as well and now you have to wonder if Jonathan Gannon and his staff can survive two seasons where they likely end up picking in the top five.
It is imperative to Gannon’s future that Murray plays well because it just solves a big issue and allows them to address a litany of other roster building issues they have stemming from the Steve Keim era.
BRB: The Texans interviewed Jonathan Gannon several times over the last three seasons for their coaching vacancies. They came close to hiring him. What have you seen from him in his first year as a head coach? Do you think he has a chance to be successful or did the Cardinals make the wrong hire?
SC: He is a coach. That seems obvious, but so many coaches assume players know how to do something. Gannon and his staff are fantastic at teaching, getting the most out of guys who are limited skill wise, and putting them in positions to be successful.
I am not sure what to expect from a scheme standpoint yet, because they simply lack talent, but the team is prepared and works hard.
As talent is added, I will be intrigued to see if that continues, or if he goes by the way of a number of coaches who act like the scheme they want to run is the only scheme in the world and they’ll run it even if the personnel doesn’t work.
I think he has a chance to be successful because so far he has players buying-in and believing that they can compete. If that continues they’ll be dangerous, but if the losses take a toll, it makes anyone’s message difficult to believe.
BRB: The Texans and Cardinals were a part of that huge trade that will be called the Will Anderson trade. How are Cardinals fans feeling about the trade half a season in? Does the Texans success make that trade a little less of a blowout for the Cardinals or are they still happy with their return?
SC: I think it will be one of those things where the end results will only matter in a couple of seasons.The Cardinals need a player like Will Anderson, as do most teams, but they also need about 19 other players, so it was always the right move to get two first round picks.
It is a bit surprising to everyone I assume that the Texans are in the playoffs as of week 10, and mostly because of how dynamic their offense is.
C.J. Stroud was always the QB1 in this class, but to see him springboard into a top five quarterback as a rookie and someone who should be in the conversation for the MVP is nothing short of amazing.
So, that part stings a little, people assumed the Cardinals would have a legit shot at two top ten, if not top five picks, but they will still have a second first round pick and as I said in question one, potentially even more.
BRB: Who are some players on offense and defense we may not have heard about, but should make a huge impact on Sunday?
SC: Michael Wilson has been a really nice rookie wide receiver for the Cardinals and he presents a different type of receiver in that he is a big-bodied guy who can make plays in traffic and run through contact.
Emari Demercado is practicing this week, so we may see the rookie undrafted free agent running back return. He has been the clear running back two for the team, and his absence coincided with James Conner on injured reserve really hurt any chance of the Cardinals being able to run the ball.
Defensively, Dante Stills has been a revelation as a sixth round pick. He is far surpassing any reasonable expectations for a rookie, and playing at a high level as an interior disruptor. It would be ideal if he was able to play only about 20-25 snaps a game, but because of injuries, he is playing closer to 40-50 and still have success, despite being undersized and a rookie.
Garrett Williams is another rookie who has looked better than anyone could have hoped. He comes in after missing nearly half the season recovering from a torn ACL in college, and through four games has only allowed 41 yards receiving.
BRB: DraftKings has the Texans (-4) as significant favorites on Sunday. How do you see the game playing out? Are there any significant prop bets you feel comfortable recommending?
SC: It is still so early in the return of Kyler Murray that I do not know what to expect, other than chaos and with how the Texans are playing… points.
I think the Texans offense is too good and the Cardinals defense too undermanned to expect a win, but I can see them covering if the line is four or more.
Give me the Texans in a good old fashioned shootout.
Good luck and good health to the Texans in this one.
We want to thank Seth for taking the time to answer our questions in advance of the game. Texans fans certainly know how Cardinals fans feel this season as they have gone into rebuilding mode. As we saw a few weeks ago, anything can happen on any given Sunday. We want to wish Seth and the Cardinals the best of luck for the remainder of the season. As always, we hope that luck begins on Monday morning.