Kyler Murray has been sacked 16 times in three games, second-most in the league to Tennessee's 17. They are giving up a sack 11.68 percent of the time given their passing attempts, ahead of (in reverse order) the Titans, Jets and Texans. (The league average is 7.02 percent). Some of this isn't a shock, given that Kyler Murray is a rookie quarterback and the Cardinals employ a spread offense that puts blockers in more one-on-one situations -- especially when the Cards aren't running a ton.
But Kliff Kingsbury insisted he is not concerned with the high sack total at this point.
"That’s part of the process of being a rookie," Kingsbury said. "We understand in those three games we’ve had to drop back and throw it a lot more than we want to and anticipate doing. All of these are learning experiences, and (Kyler) understands that. We have to do a better job of getting rid of the football and not taking those negative plays, but that comes with time.”
Jake Plummer was sacked 52 times as a rookie in 1997 (and that was in just 10 games.) Neil Lomax, sacked 61 times in 1985, holds the franchise record in a season. The NFL record is 76, suffered by Houston's David Carr in his rookie season of 2002.
Murray wasn't getting too detailed on his thoughts about avoiding so many sacks -- "We all have to be better," Murray said. " I think that’s what it comes down to – getting the ball out, protection, everything" -- and felt like overall the Cards have been fine in limiting sacks. While he was sacked eight times against the Panthers, it's worth noting five of those sacks came after the Cardinals fell behind by 15 points in the fourth quarter. Murray has made that point a couple of times (and so too did offensive lineman Justin Pugh.) Those five sacks count, of course, but it also exploded Murray's season total.
But it wasn't just the defensive line knowing the Cards were going to pass; there were a few times when Murray still needs to learn "when the party's over to get rid of it," Kingsbury said.. Fortunately for the Cardinals and Murray, none of the sacks have been ugly full-speed hits, so the rookie hasn't absorbed horrible blows.
Of the 16 sacks, five are losses of three yards or fewer -- plays in which Murray was trying to scramble upfield and was caught before the line of scrimmage. On the flip side, Murray has taken five sacks that have lost at least 11 yards, some of which came because Murray tried too long to scramble and make a play instead of throwing it away.
"You appreciate the fact that he wants to make every play and bring us back, but there’s no 21-point touchdown passes," Kingsbury said. "It’s just a learning curve that we’re going through."