Life for Kyler Murray got more complicated on Thursday. Until then, he was simply the first overall selection of the 2019 NFL Draft coming off a stellar debut in his preseason opener. His transition seemed like it would be seamless. The Arizona Cardinals seemed savants. All was extremely cool.
Well, the narrative changed a little during the Cardinals 33-26 loss to the Oakland Raiders. And much of it was due to his snap decisions.
You’ll excuse the play on words, but many of Murray’s problems derived from the coarseness of his cadence at the line of scrimmage. Officials determined that the young quarterback was too hasty in his claps and too uncoordinated in terms of bringing his hands together.
If that all sounds too complicated, imagine how it must have felt for Murray, who was flagged on a pair of procedure calls that cramped his style in his second game.
“I think it’s the first time for certain officials to see it, and we’ve been in contact with the league and had a great conversation on it,” said Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury. “We’re going to work through that and make sure everybody’s on the same page. We want to be on the same page as them and make sure we’re doing things that they deem legal.”
According to ESPN’s Stats & Information department, there were eight false-start penalties by quarterbacks last season. No signal-caller had been hit for two in one game since the great Drew Brees in 2013.
“To me, it’s like any other hard count,” said Murray. “It’s the defense’s job to watch the ball, so it really doesn’t make sense to me. I think we’re trying to fix things right now.”
The mistakes were the biggest takeaways from an otherwise unspectacular night during which the defending Heisman Trophy winner completed just 3-of-8 passes for 12 yards with one rush for four yards in four possessions that carried the game into the second quarter. Murray was also called for delay-of-game and was tackled for a safety.
Tough night, tough crowd and we’ll all be able to see it soon on HBO’s “Hard Knocks” with the Raiders.
“I mean, it’s football. We didn’t look as good as we would’ve liked to look, but it’s the preseason. This is why it’s the preseason,” said Murray. “It’s just tough because we’re not playing a whole game, and it’s … I don’t wanna say it’s not real, but it’s not the regular season. We’re not doing everything we’re gonna do. It gets frustrating, but at the same time, it’s preseason.”
The important thing is not to get carried away by any of the good or bad we see of Murray in the preseason. He’s not going to be as good as he may look or as bad as he may appear. None of it is real, although he did overthrow four passes in the first quarter and when have you ever seen that from this kid?
“I think it’ll be very different, just because we’ll scheme them up, just like they’ll scheme us up,” said Murray of the upcoming season opener against the Detroit Lions. “But we’ll be going full force and we’ll see.”
Let’s break Murray down statistically. After averaging 6.3 yards per pass attempt last week against the Los Angeles Chargers, Murray clocked in at just 1.5 against the Silver and Black. Compare that to his free-wheeling season at Oklahoma in 2018 when he gained 11.6 yards every time he cocked his arm. And the night really never got off the ground. He was run out-of-bounds on his first play of the game.
To be fair, the Raiders decided to put on an extra helping of pressure. He was sacked twice, blitzed five times and forced into a substandard 45.8 passer rating. The Cardinals gained only two first downs when he was under center and the Raiders led 26-0 when Murray was finally pulled.
To be fair, the Cardinals were just terrible, circa 2018, committing 10 penalties for 89 yards while Murray was in the game. That made for a very difficult work environment with tons of poor field position. It’s impossible to believe Murray will be able to reach his potential unless the Cardinals clean up the underlying cause for many of his problems.
“When you play these spread teams and they’re spreading you out, running the quarterback, you’ve got to take some gaps away,” said Raiders coach Jon Gruden. “You try to present some different looks. Otherwise, they’ll dice you. I think we did a good job mixing it up. We had some timely blitzes.”
It wasn’t all bad. Murray did not have a turnover and made a couple of nice throws, one that was dropped and another that was called back because of a penalty.
“He performed well under the circumstances and made the right decisions with the football,” said Kingsbury.