Observations from Kyler Murray's NFL Debut
The Arizona Cardinals may have finished their Week 1 game against the Detroit Lions with a 27-27 tie. Which is better than a loss. After being down 24-6 in the 4th quarter, I think a tie is actually a positive outcome.
Murray had a rough first 3 quarters. It wasn't until the 4th quarter until Murray looked settled and got into a groove. Murray ended the game completing 29-of-54 passes for 308 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. He didn’t run nearly as much as many predicted; he finished with just 13 yards on the ground. Murray went off in the fourth quarter, completing 15 of 19 passes for 152 yards and two touchdowns after going 9 of 25 through the first three quarters.
“Obviously, it was pretty ugly at first,” Murray said. “Unfortunately, we couldn’t get the win. But a tie’s better than a loss, I guess.”
These are my observations after re-watching the Cardinals game:
- Murray started off a bit too excited. He had the overthrow on the deep pass to Johnson.
- At times it looked like he was trying to do too much. He needs to take what the defense gave him; which he started doing late in the game.
- Murray had 4 batted balls which prevented him from having a solid (60%+) completion percentage. His height didn't lead to the batted balls (this isn't a problem for Russell Wilson), but it's something that the coaching staff has to acknowledge as a problem and help him with, as it breaks the rhythm of the offense and kills drives.
- Last night, Joe Flacco standing at 6'6" had 4 batted passes as well. So height it's the problem for Murray. It's more staring down WRs which allows DL to watch his eyes and get their arms up when he starts his throwing motion.
- I am impressed with Kyler Murray's work ethic and intelligence. Most of his big throws he made would've been impossible without an understanding of the playbook far superior to that of an average rookie QB.
- Murray went off in the fourth quarter, completing 15 of 19 passes for 152 yards and two touchdowns after going 9 of 25 through the first three quarters.
- The bomb to Fitzgerald in overtime was remarkable in the arm strength and accuracy Kyler exhibited. Fitz barely had half a step on the DB yet the latter didn't have a chance to break up or intercept the pass. The over-used cliche about how it was "where only the receiver could catch it" was true here.
- Murray was very poise to lead the Cards back into the game. The pressure didn't seem to get to him. He was able to get the late game touchdown and then followed it up with the tieing 2-point conversion.
- He had 1 turnover in nearly 60 dropbacks (admittedly a bone-headed, very rookie decision, but it was the anomaly), despite playing from behind, and making a lot of big plays. That shows Kyler understands the tricky balance of NFL quarterbacking. You have to take chances to make plays as an NFL quarterback, and (therefore) throwing interceptions is part of the game. Yet the gambles you take have to be well-timed and likely to succeed, or you've quickly (with 2 or 3 turnovers a game) cost your team the game.
- His scrambling can be a weapon, but he needs to be careful about not overdoing it. Defenses are much faster at the NFL level, and he needs to learn that, trying to run through a lane that looks like it would produce an 8 yard run (and would have in his college days) may lead to a 2 yard loss.
- Once the offensive line improves this year or over the years, Murray's play will only continue to improve. Cardinals have a bright future with Murray at the helm.