Cardinals HC Kliff Kingsbury conference call (12.11.19)

Cardinals Head Coach Kliff Kingsbury:

On his relationship with QB Baker Mayfield, settling past differences and reuniting on Sunday:

“I think we are in a good place. What happened, happened. It was unfortunate, and I obviously wish it would have been different and I could have handled things differently, but you move forward. I have been proud of his success and what all he has accomplished. It has been phenomenal to watch. It will be fun to go out there with (Cardinals QB) Kyler (Murray) and compete against him. There are a lot of strong relationships there so it will be a heck of a matchup.”

 

On what he remembers about Mayfield when he coached him at Texas Tech and how Mayfield has grown since:

“He is a winner, a tremendous competitor. As far as the quarterback position, I just remember as soon as you installed anything, he could go out there and execute it and at a high level the first time doing it. For a young player, a true freshman who walked on and was not there all summer, I was really blown away by that and he continued to get better and better. He played at a really high level and you could tell he was going to have a great career.”

 

On if he is surprised Mayfield still carries a chip on his shoulder at this point of his career:

“He is really competitive, and he has been pretty much doubted his entire life and he has used that as motivation and used it successfully. I really do not know why you would change. I am sure people are going to love you or going to hate you regardless of how you motivate yourself, but it works for him and he has proved people wrong at every level.”

 

On what he would have done differently with Mayfield during their time together:

“Just make sure the communication was there to the point that he knew exactly how I felt about him and where I felt about him and before it was too late. You learn those things as you go, and the situation was not what I hoped it would be or could have ended up, but I think it obviously worked out really well for him. Like I said earlier, I am just really excited for the success he has had and he has earned every bit of it.”

 

On what makes Cardinals QB Kyler Murray so special:

“He has a dynamic skillset to start. Very competitive but his ability to be a really, really accurate passer and to have the ability to extend plays with his feet and make plays with his feet is unique. I have said since he got here, with that skillset, the sky is the limit. This is a humbling league. We have gone against some tough defenses and we have had our ups and downs, but he continues to show up and prepare the right way and make plays. He has given us a chance in a lot of games in a tough spot. You are not asked very often you have a rookie and come in Day 1 and be the guy, and there is nobody that has held the seat for him or anything of that nature. It is his show. He has to learn on the fly and I am really proud of how he has handled it all.”

 

On if Mayfield having success as a rookie made it easier to select Murray No. 1 overall:

“I am not sure if it made it easier in that regard, but I do think it continues to prove that size… (Seahawks QB) Russell Wilson, Baker, those guys are playing at high level regardless of where they are from have definitely helped that some of these smaller statured guys show that you can do it at this level and you do not have to be 6-4, 220 and all those other things.”

 

On if he takes a lot of pride in the fact that his team gave the 49ers one of the best games this season:

“I have liked our fight throughout the season. We have had some tough ball games. We haven’t found a way to finish some of them, but I think our guys know if we play at a high level and eliminate some of the mental mistakes, penalties and turnovers that we can play with anybody. As we are trying to build this thing, that is a good starting point is max effort week in and week out and fight until the end. I have seen a lot of that through the season.”

 

On how different things are in the NFL as a head coach compared to when he was a player:

“It is definitely different, a different league than when I played. The players are year-round training. It is on such a different level. Just the nature of the game has changed a lot. It has been fun to just get back up here and see the professionalism, the level of competition week in and week out. Every game is a dogfight so it has been a lot of fun to get back in it and be a part of that.”

 

On how his relationship with Mayfield developed into a better place:

“Just over the years as I have seen him at different functions through the Big 12 or games, we just chatted and talked. He and I really never had a negative face-to-face, text or conversation, anything of that nature. It was just a deal that happened. I think we both had a certain amount of respect for each other and what we are about and who we are. Sometimes it just takes time to get back to that point.”

 

On QBs bringing skills from college to the NFL impacting offenses across league and if that could become more common:

“That is a great, great question. We wanted to build around Kyler. We knew that his success would be critical to us having success as a team. To ask him to do stuff he is not comfortable with or put him in a system that maybe he could not flourish in we did not think was the answer. I think you are seeing a similar type of thought process in Baltimore, building it around a quarterback instead of making the quarterback conform to what you want him to be. To answer your question, that is what we thought. Let’s put the conscious in that he is comfortable with and try to have him playing at a high level as quickly as possible because in this league, you do not have long to figure it out before they are going to make a change. We wanted to make sure that we put him in position to be successful.”

 

On what Cardinals OLB Chandler Jones has meant to the defense:

“He has been phenomenal, a real pass rush terror for other teams. His work ethic, he was at every OTA, every minicamp and every activity we had offseason. The way he approaches practice, the kind of vibe and juice he brings to the locker room, he has been tremendous. I am excited to see that he is finally getting the kind of the due that he has deserved around the league.”

 

On how surprising it was for him that Mayfield became the type of player he is:

“You could see his skillset and how talented he was. To be honest, a guy like that, he just refuses to be denied. The more people telling him he can’t do something, the more he wants to prove them wrong and he has done it at every level. I would not say overly surprised. He had a great coach in (Oklahoma Head Coach) Lincoln Riley, who played to his strengths that really helped elevate that program together. It has just been fun to watch, all the success he has had.”

 

On how the Browns defense has changed without DE Myles Garrett:

“He is tremendous. Watching the film, he is as good as anybody we have gone against, and we have gone against some of the best in the league this year. He is phenomenal at what he does. Anytime you lose one of the best players in the league, it is going to affect your defense. Those guys, they still found a way to make a lot of plays and win games on defense. We have our hands full with that defensive line.”

 

On what happened with Cardinals WR Hakeem Butler and his long-term prospects:

“He had an injury. We like Hakeem. Obviously, took him in the fourth round. A very physical wide receiver, can run really well, big, fast. We like what he is made of. It was unfortunate he had that injury but excited about his offseason to get him going this spring and see what he can become.”

 

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