How the Giants Can Stop Kyler Murray

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Patricia Traina

Giants cornerback Janoris Jenkins has seen a lot in his eight-year NFL career.

But he wasn’t reluctant to admit that he hasn’t seen very much of the kind of offense that Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury has installed to fit the strengths of rookie quarterback Kyler Murray.

“Basically, zone read, a lot of in-breaking throws,” Jenkins said in trying to describe what the Cardinals do on offense. “They try to get him out of the pocket. They try to use his ability the best way they can.”

So far, so good for the Cardinals, who despite a 2-3-1 record, have the league’s ninth most productive offense (376.8 yards per game), and are in the top 12 of the league in both rushing (122.7 yards per game) and passing (254.2 yards per game).

Murray, who is 153 of 238 for 1,664 yards, seven touchdowns, and four interceptions (87.6 rating), also is second on his team in both rushing attempts 939) and rushing yardage (238) and is tied for the team lead in rushing touchdowns with two.

“Any time you have a guy that can make plays with his feet like he can, it just adds that different dimension for us,” Kingsbury said.

“He’s been able to make some off-schedule plays that have kept us on the field on third down or in the red zone. That’s been huge, and I think having that extra element has been a real plus to our offense so far.”

The question for the Giants then becomes, how do they stop Murray from beating them with his legs?

Inside linebacker Alec Ogletree said one of the keys is to contain Murray in the pocket.

“It’s very hard on a defense when you can’t keep a guy contained, and he’s able to break the containment and stretch you down the field and force guys on the back end to cover for a long time,” he said.

“So, we’ve got to do a good job with the way we rush and obviously making sure we stay on guys even if he does break the contain.”

Ogletree admitted that the Cardinals offense has something of a “college feel” to it, which is only natural given that this time last year, both Kingsbury and Murray were both in the college ranks.

And while the RPO and zone-read concepts still relatively new in the NFL, that the Giants defense has a lot of young players who aren’t too far removed from the college game where they regularly faced these concepts might give New York an advantage.

“Yeah, it depends on which conference you played in, I guess,” Ogletree said. “If you played in the PAC-12 or Big Ten, or whatever, they spread you out like that, and that’s obviously what you’re used to.

“But I think in the SEC, you still get your two-back looks—we’re switching up a little bit, but you still get your running downfield, your hard-nosed football.”

And the objective doesn’t change either.

“You have to prepare,” said Jenkins. “We need all 11 guys. We know (Murray) is very mobile, but he also can make a lot of throws, so we have to stay on our game and be able to plaster when the play breaks down.

“They play tempo. Just being able to contain the quarterback, keep them in the pocket, cover his second option and his first option, and play fast.” 

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