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Bobby Wagner, Rams Ready to Stop Cardinals QB Kyler Murray's Madness

Bobby Wagner is new to the Rams but no stranger to how Kyler Murray can impact a ball game.

It's said that the enemy of thy enemy is thy friend.

Linebacker Bobby Wagner could hardly describe the Los Angeles Rams as a friend during his storied career with the Seattle Seahawks, but there's no doubt that Orange County/Pacific Northwest rivals shared a common foe in Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray. 

Injuries between Murray and Wagner saw them each partake in four NFC West bird battles. Wagner, now of the Rams, has seen some of the best Murray has to offer in those tilts and is set to face 2019's top overall draft pick once again when Los Angeles (1-1) visits Glendale for its first road game of the season on Sunday (1:25 p.m. PT, Fox) The defender open his weekly public statements by praising Murray's maturation since his entry out of Oklahoma while acknowledging the danger he poses to those entrusted with stopping his internet-breaking antics.

“I think he's done a better job of throwing the ball when he needs to, taking check downs when he needs to," Wagner said. "Obviously, the biggest challenge is him running. He doesn't see anything, he’s taking off, so that's been the thing. I think if you let him kind of run around and make crazy plays, come off your guys, not only does he do that well, but the team ignites off plays like that. We definitely have to limit those opportunities for him.”

Working with another mobile thrower and fellow Seattle departure Russell Wison, Wagner explained, was even hardly appropriate preparation, as he believes that Murray has developed his own unique, formidable skillset in just his third season. 

"I would say it’s two different people," Wagner said when asked to compare Murray and the current Denver Bronco. "(Murray) is really quick and he's a guy that, when you do try to come and attack him high, he's short enough to go underneath you and take off and run. You definitely have to be in control when you’re trying to tackle him.”

Murray's fourth year at the helm of the Arizona offense has gone viral for a variety of reasons. His $230 million contract extension was a bombshell in the rare doldrums of the NFL calendar, one that included the infamous "independent study" clause that was quickly rescinded after controversy quickly converged after its emergence. With games underway, Murray is back under a positive spotlight, standing as one of the stars of Week 2 play after he guided the Cardinals to a comeback overtime victory over the Las Vegas Raiders. 

Murray magic headlined the comeback's final stages: he ran in a six-pointer with no time left in regulation before finding A.J. Green for the equalizing two-point conversion. The 29-23 triumph, earned through Byron Murphy's 59-yard walk-off fumble return, put Arizona (1-1) back on the right track after opening the season with a listless 44-21 loss in Kansas City. 

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Like anyone remotely associated with NFL football, Wagner has seen the clip of Murray channeling Arizona's baseball team, slithering like a diamondback snake on an earlier two-pointer. Rather than hammer home the importance of not allowing Murray to embark upon situations like that, Wagner hinted that such circus antics could be the hidden secret to clipping the wings of Murray and the Cardinals, who have no doubt remember the embarrassing 34-11 shellacking the Rams placed upon them in the opening leg of their run to the Super Bowl. 

"I don't think that's something you scheming for, I think that's something you just try not to allow happen," Wagner described. "I think the backend kind of did a good job. He's a guy that can extend plays. He ran backward, so he was losing yards and he came forward a little bit. then as a player, when you’re guarding somebody, you don’t want to come off your guy because the moment you come off your guy, he throws it over your head for a touchdown."

"Really, it is just up to us as a front and coverage to all work together to make sure he doesn't scramble like that.”

Even in the infantile stages of the 2022-23 season, the Rams are no strangers to the antics of mobile quarterbacks: Buffalo's Josh Allen burned Los Angeles both through the air and on the ground in the Week 1 opener (10 attempts, 56 yards, one touchdown) but they were able to bottle up Marcus Mariota in last weekend's 31-27 win over Atlanta (16 yards on six carries). 


Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

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