Baldinger: 'I don't know' that Kyler Murray can reach an elite level for Cardinals

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At one point during the regular season, Kyler Murray was playing quarterback at an MVP-caliber level, and his Arizona Cardinals -- the last undefeated team in the league -- resembled a championship contender, destined to clinch the NFC's top seed. But then the second half of the season arrived, with a slump that was just too deep to overcome.

Murray's first taste of the NFL playoffs was bitter. The third-year starter threw for just 137 yards with two interceptions in the Cardinals' ugly 34-11 wild-card loss to the division rival Los Angeles Rams on Monday night at SoFi Stadium. For a third straight year, head coach Kliff Kingsbury watched his team scuffle down the stretch, and Brian Baldinger isn't sure whether Murray can become an elite franchise quarterback.

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Brian Baldinger, Audacy Sports NFL Insider
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"I don't know, because he got to the postseason and played the worst game that I've ever seen him play," Audacy's NFL insider told The Zach Gelb Show on Tuesday. "So, when the competition goes way high and it's sudden death, can you get the best out of him? I thought he would've played much better. When he got outside the pocket, he was dreadful. From the pocket, dreadful.

"It was just a terrible game. Can he be like Josh Allen? I don't think so. I don't think he can be that good. Maybe there's only three, four guys in the league who can be as good as Allen. Herbert and Mahomes, and guys who've been around the block a long time -- you know, Rodgers and Brady. But there's very few guys who can do that. And I don't know that Murray can be on that level."

From the get-go, the Cardinals' offense looked overwhelmed by the moment and the Rams' pressure in the trenches. Their first four drives were three-and-outs that traveled for a combined minus-9 yards, and on the fifth possession, Murray lobbed a careless interception inside his own end zone for a blooper-reel pick-six. Seven plays later, Murray threw another interception, this time near midfield. At halftime, the Cardinals trailed, 21-0.

When the clock hit triple zeroes in the fourth quarter, Murray had completed only 19 passes, with a career-low passer rating of 40.9. During the Cardinals' seven-game winning streak from mid-September to late October, the former Heisman winner posted six triple-digit passer ratings. After Week 8, however, Murray reached that mark only twice. For the season, Murray threw for 3,787 yards with 29 all-purpose touchdowns, 423 rushing yards, 10 interceptions, and 13 own fumble recoveries.

The entire NFL conversation between Baldinger and Gelb can be accessed in the audio player above.

You can follow The Zach Gelb Show on Twitter @ZachGelb and Tom Hanslin @TomHanslin.