Yes, it’s your favorite Hall of Fame hopeful QB back for another round of criticism and commentary. This cycle I’ll be going under the hood with the most intriguing QB stories around the league. We’ll explore the up’s, the down’s and all the impactful decisions and performances surrounding the QB position. And what better way to start off the new cycle than with this potentially generational talent. This kid possesses the mix of speed, athleticism, arm strength, leadership and that intangible swag. He haven’t seen that type of talent since …. well, Russell Wilson. But let’s look at his accomplishments. He won the Heisman Memorial Trophy his final season in college football and was pegged the ultimate dual threat en route to being selected #1 overall in the NFL draft. Certainly we haven’t seen that since ….. well, last season with Baker Mayfield. But, finally the Oklahoma Sooners can say they put out a stud at QB in recent memory. Oh wait. Baker did it first last year, didn’t he? Well, with comparisons to the likes of cats like Baker Mayfield, Russell Wilson, and Michael Vick, it’s no wonder Mr. Murray is going ‘Under the Hood’ first.
I’ve dissected many would be quarterbacks in my day, and it’s no surprise that I have been overly critical and skeptical, the say the least, about most. So it is in the highest regard when I bestow praise upon any young signal caller. And trust me when I say I’m impressed with what this guy brings with him. There’s the physical skill side of the equation that is easy to fall in love with here. Murray possesses the kind of break away speed and agility that most of the shiftiest running backs in this league would be jealous of, not to mention a top-end speed he has the stamina of maintaining throughout the duration of even the longest developing plays. He has a pro strength arm that allows him to make all the big league throws and delivers the ball with great touch down the field. If there’s an area that he can improve in, as far as pure throwing goes, it would have to be his intermediate tosses. But that will come with reps and real game experience. But where he is most impressive is with his intangibles. And trust me when I say this kid has “IT”. And when I say ‘IT’, I mean ALL OF IT. If there was a QB swag meter, he’d register somewhere in between “Amazing” and “Through the roof”. The only young guys out there that are parading around with this kind of confidence and showmanship are Baker Mayfield (his old college teammate – go figure) and Lamar Jackson. That’s good company to keep. I even hear those guys over at EA spared no expense getting his Virtual doppelganger to bear stunning resemblance to the real deal. (Shameless plug)
I had a chance to sit down with the Arizona Cardinals’ head coach Mike Adelmann and pick his brain about his rookie QB. I gave him the open floor and this is what he had to say:
“We love Kyler coming out of college. It’s so rare to get a player with his arm strength , high sports IQ, and athleticism. A player like him comes along once in a lifetime, so the opportunity to develop an offense around him was paramount.
Kyler tells us everyday he wants to prove all the pundits in the media wrong about our team. He is a superstar caliber player on the field and with his personality, he wants it. He has a chip on his shoulder when he hears about the Cardinals finishing last in the West. He wants to bring the Cardinals to the postseason and has yet to use the words ‘I’ or ‘me’. (Instead) he says ‘we’ and ‘us’, and that has resonated well within our team. Guys like Terrell Suggs and Larry Fitzgerald love the kid and have grown very fond of his leadership skills.
What can you expect from him? Lightning in a bottle. Our offense is set up for quick, reads, and decisions he makes in a matter of seconds that build off each other. The foundation is the RPO out of the shotgun; we run everything through that play. Every defense we play has to focus on the pass, then Kyler’s legs, then David Johnson, all in quick succession.
The more we develop, the quicker this offense can move. And with Kyler’s skill set, he is a threat to score through the air or on the ground every snap. We are thrilled about his development and can’t wait for Week 1 to unleash our full offense.”
With that being said, I decided to tag along and follow the Cards’ red hot rookie through mini-camps, intra-squad scrimmages and preseason and came away with some excellent examples of what he does good and no-so-good that will have to be addressed for him to progress and fulfill his other-worldly potential.
Here, Murray masterfully uses the RPO to suck in the defense and his the open WR on the slant and the result is glorious. Great fake hand-off, great poise in the pocket and great delivery.
The read option is a deadly weapon of choice if you have the properly trained assassin at the helm. Here Murray shows how explosive he can be as a runner.
Probably the most deflating type of play for the defense is when you do everything well and the opponent improvises and gets out of trouble. Kyler channels his inner Russell Wilson and turns a 8 yard loss into nearly a first down.
I can’t stop raving about this guy’s athleticism. Look at how he not only gets out of the pocket but keeps his eyes down field, looking to extend the play. Then he flashes that golden arm and connects with David Johnson deep down field for the big play. That’s a baaaaaaad man right there.
These are but a few of the things this young man has brought to the table and infused into this offense that will help them ascend from the league’s basement. But to every Yin there must be a Yang. So let’s take a look at some things that will have to get cleaned up for the Cardinals to ride the Murray momentum eventually into the playoffs.
While most people would look at this play as a win, we are talking about the maturation of a young franchise caliber player; so the expectations have to be held to a significantly higher standard. Yes this was a completion for a long gain, but the potential for this to have ended in a turnover was too great, throwing into triple coverage. The smart move would to have thrown it away once out of the pocket. What Kyler will need to avoid is trying to make the big play on every single down. He will truly have elevated to the next level when he realizes that sometimes, Superman needs to take off his cape and become Clark Kent and move on to the next play.
This clip illustrates the importance of film study. Murray appears to have made up his mind pre-snap where he wanted to go with the ball, and never went through his progressions. If he had, and exercised just a little more patience, he would have seen his inside man to the trips side break free into the 2nd level. Also, he had his RB open in the flat for the swing pass dump down. This mistake can demoralize a young player, especially in a crucial moment of a big game. And with such lofty expectations for this rookie, every game is a big game.
Overall, there wasn’t enough negative to convince me that the Cardinals should have anything to worry about with the progression of young Mr. Murray. He has enough veteran leadership around him to always have a positive guide steering him in the right direction and with what should be a dominant rushing attack, powered by RB David Johnson, Murray appears poised to have a break out freshman campaign. As long as he stays healthy, this is about as sure a bet to break into the stratosphere of stardom as we’ve seen in quite some time. If there is an elephant in the room to cause concern, it’s the jettison of All-Pro CB Patrick Peterson. With the league office rescinding his 6 game suspension, I would have thought this defense to be on the uptick. But when he was shipped for draft picks, one can only wonder how that is going to affect this offensive unit, which was already being looked upon to carry the load before the trade. Now the O will undoubtedly have to spend more time on the field trying to keep pace with the opponent’s offense vs just managing and maintaining. Oh yeah, remember the Cardinals organization spent last year’s first round draft choice on their would-be “QB of the future” as well only to send him to the new NFL cellar-dwellers. Only time will tell how the story will end this go round. Right?