Kyler Murray’s skillset is electric, but in order to be a star in the NFL, the Cardinals’ rookie quarterback must handle the mental demands of the position.
Through two games, the returns have been impressive.
The No. 1 overall pick completed 25-of-40 passes for 349 yards against the Ravens. His yards-per-attempt of 8.73 was the seventh-best in the NFL this week, and beyond that, it seemed like Murray was routinely making smart decisions.
“I think that fourth quarter against Detroit, he started to realize the speed of the game, how he had to play, the decision-making had to happen quickly,” coach Kliff Kingsbury said. “He’s just scratching the surface. As this thing goes along, it’s going to really slow down for him.”
Here are some plays that particularly stood out upon review of the film:
- First-and-10 at the Baltimore 47 with 3:47 left first quarter – Murray looks for Larry Fitzgerald on a slant but pulls back the ball when he sees a linebacker closing. Murray then sees a streaking Christian Kirk and connects with him for a 34-yard gain. (Intentional or not, the pump fake drew in a Ravens defensive back that allowed Kirk to find the open area.)
- Fourth-and-2 at the Baltimore 47 with 12:16 left second quarter – The Ravens’ single-high safety moves down into the box as the Cardinals prepare to snap the ball, so Murray calls an audible. Wide receiver Damiere Byrd runs a slant against single coverage and Murray hits him for the first down.
- Third-and-9 at the Baltimore 41 with 10:57 left second quarter – Murray is under pressure but sees wideout KeeSean Johnson in 1-on-1 coverage. Even though Murray lofted a low-percentage pass, it was smart, as an interception would have had the same result as a punt. Johnson caught it for a 31-yard gain.
- Third-and-6 at the Arizona 10 with 3:23 left in the second quarter – Murray gets blitzed by six defenders and knows he must get the ball out quick. He throws a beautiful pass to a single-covered Byrd for a 13-yard gain.
- Second-and-7 at the Arizona 20 with 12:28 left in the third quarter – Fitzgerald breaks free of coverage late and Murray finds him after going through multiple progressions. Murray stands in and takes a hit, delivering a nice pass for a 40-yard gain.
- Second-and-11 at the Baltimore 41 with 11:09 left in the third quarter – A blitzing linebacker vacates an area and Murray attacks that seam, hitting tight end Maxx Williams for a 21-yard gain.
- First-and-10 at the Arizona 21 with 14:50 left in the fourth quarter – The Ravens blitz a cornerback from the left side, so Murray slides to his right. Murray again goes through multiple progressions and sees Fitzgerald pop open, hitting him for a 54-yard gain.
The Cardinals played a tough opponent on Sunday and didn’t convert enough inside the 5 to come away with the victory, but the play of Murray was encouraging. He had a firm grasp at the line of scrimmage, which is a good sign moving forward.
“I’m not where I want to be five years from now, but as far as being comfortable, I feel pretty good right now,” Murray said.