Tom Clements has coached Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers, two of the best quarterbacks in the history of the NFL, but the Cardinals’ passing game coordinator/quarterbacks coach hasn’t tutored anyone quite like Kyler Murray.
The Cardinals are hoping to be on the cutting edge of the NFL’s offensive revolution, and the dual threat capabilities of the No. 1 overall pick will be a big boost.
It remains to be seen if Murray can join the pantheon of elite quarterbacks alongside Favre and Rodgers, but Clements is intrigued about the early returns.
“He’s pretty unique,” Clements said on Wednesday’s Cardinals Underground podcast. “He’s very athletic, very quick, very fast, but he can sit in the pocket and make all the throws. I think I said it the day he was drafted: he combines all those qualities, and a guy who is as athletic as him, usually he looks and if his first receiver isn’t open, then he goes and uses his athletic ability to run around and make some plays. But Kyler doesn’t do that. If the first guy’s not open, he’ll look through. He’ll look to the next guy and go through his progression. He’s going to take off when he needs to or when he sees something. He’s not going to do it too quickly or unnecessarily.”
The knock on the majority of dual-threat quarterbacks is their inability to consistently defeat defenses through the air. Murray was dominant in the passing game last season at Oklahoma and has shown a knack for hitting receivers in stride in offseason work.
“He’s very accurate,” Clements said. “He makes quick decisions. When he sees something, if he has to get it out quick, he can do it. And he usually puts it in a position where the receiver can catch it. You may be able to improve accuracy to a certain degree, but you either have it or you don’t, for the most part.”
Clements said the Cardinals defense did a nice job in the past several weeks of trying to confuse Murray with different looks. There will be an adjustment period as a rookie, but Clements said the similarities in style to the Oklahoma offense has made for a smoother transition than usual.
“It is very noticeable, because you look at other places I’ve been -- when someone comes in and tries to learn a new system entirely different from college, it takes a while,” Clements said. “The system we have here, we try to simplify it as much as we can. Kyler’s had a background in it and we tried to put things in that he ran at Oklahoma, tried to modify the terminology to help him in that regard. So he’s further along as a rookie QB than most rookie QBs, I’d say.”
Murray didn’t run the 40-yard dash in the pre-draft process, but no one seems to be questioning his top-end speed. Clements confirmed he has a special ability to turn on the jets when needed.
“He can go,” Clements said.