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Kyler Murray Unfazed By Criticism, Confident In Offensive Rally

Quarterback said Cardinals making things 'harder than it has to be'

Quarterback Kyler Murray (1) runs a zone-read play with running back Chase Edmonds during the Cardinals' game against the Rams last weekend.
Quarterback Kyler Murray (1) runs a zone-read play with running back Chase Edmonds during the Cardinals' game against the Rams last weekend.

Kyler Murray isn't going to be MVP. He's unlikely to become the first player with 4,000 yards passing and 1,000 yards rushing.

These were things easily speculated about a few weeks ago. But now, the Cardinals find themselves in an offensive slump that has directly impacted the won-loss record. And the Cardinals' second-year quarterback, still learning the game, is trying to find a way to lead everyone out of the morass – the offense, the team, and himself.

"You're going to get beat," Murray said. "You're going to throw interceptions. You're going to get sacked. You're going to miss throws. Stuff like that is going to happen. That's something that you've been prepping for your whole life playing the position. It's not like, 'Oh this just happened now or last game, I don't know how to deal with it.' I've dealt with it my whole life. I think every quarterback has dealt with it their whole life.

"I don't listen to outsiders or anybody. None of this affects me. I understand what's going to happen inside those lines, prepare for the worst. I'm not trippin' over it."

Murray's numbers have dropped noticeably the past two games, but while he wasn't able to sustain his personal running game in the initial loss of this streak in Seattle – the game in which he banged up his right shoulder early – he still completed almost 70 percent of his passes that night for 269 yards, two touchdowns and no turnovers.

The Patriots and Rams made it a lot harder on him – he completed only 54 percent against the Rams and had a bad Pick-6 when he stared down receiver Andy Isabella – but the Cards nearly pulled off comebacks in Seattle and New England, and Murray is still the engine that makes it all go.

"When the offense isn't averaging 400 yards a game and 30 points, we all want to be better," coach Kliff Kingsbury said. "Kyler shows up every day and competes his tail off and works at his craft. You can see the progression from Year One to Year Two and even with the struggles and the tough games, he's playing at a level that allows us to have the ball late and have a chance to win these games.

"The composure you've seeing late in games that maybe aren't going our way has been great to see for me as a head coach. He's keeping us in it."

With struggles come criticisms, and given Murray's national reach, opinions come from far and wide. Murray was asked about comments made by FOX NFL analyst Brock Huard -- "I don't know who that is," Murray said – that Murray wasn't a good practice player and that he was avoiding contact by not running the ball more.

"I don't know what you want me to do," Murray said. "Do you want me to pull it and run into a (defender)? I don't know. (Defenses) are making me hand the ball off, so that's what I have to do. As far as practice goes. I don't know if they're even allowed at practice, so I don't really know what that means."

Kingsbury said he hadn't heard the comments but as far as the points made, "I would strongly disagree."

Guard Justin Pugh said he had a recent conversation with Murray, and both veteran and young quarterback were on the same wavelength.

"We all have to be better, every single person has to be better," Pugh said. "There's no one above or beyond that reach or that expectation. He's in his second year, he's in his, what, 30th game as a starter? I'm very excited for his future. Hopefully we play these four games, we play some extra ones, and we earn more reps. Because he's only going to get better as this thing goes on."

During the three-game losing streak, Murray's passing yardage has dipped almost 60 yards a game, his rushing yardage is down 47 yards a game, and he has no rushing touchdowns after scoring 10 in the first nine games.

But much of that is a function of the overall offense and defenses that have adjusted to Murray's magic running the ball. Even with all that, "we're not far off," Murray said.

"We make it harder than it has to be," Murray said. "If we just simplify these games, it's pretty simple in itself, but at the same time it's hard to execute at this level.

"I'm not worried about the pressure or anything like that. We've got four games left, and each game is crucial. We know that; everyone knows that. We understand that it's a 1-0 mentality, and we've got to win."