NFL defenses are on to Kyler Murray. They have figured him out. It’s now more than just a trend. Three teams in three straight weeks have been able to almost completely shut down his running ability. When that happens, the Arizona Cardinals can’t win. It’s very clear that adjustments need to be made or things very well could get worse.
Here is what has happened over the last 3 weeks: On November 19th, the Seattle Seahawks held Murray to 15 yards rushing and the Cardinals lost. Last week, the New England Patriots held him to 31 yards and the Cardinals lost. Yesterday, the Los Angeles Rams did what the Seahawks did, stymied the second-year quarterback and allowed just 15 yards on the ground…and the Cardinals lost. The final was 38-28.
NFL defenses are simply making Murray beat them with his arm, and he simply hasn’t been able to do it. He threw the ball 39 times yesterday and only completed 21 of those passes for 173 yards. He only averaged 4.4 yards on those 21 completions. He did throw 3 touchdowns, but those TD’s only made his mediocre box score look better than he did.
On consecutive possessions in the 4th quarter, Murray fumbled the ball away and then threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown. This team was once 5-2 and Murray was seemingly an MVP candidate. Now, they are 6-6 and Murray might be closer to playing baseball than ever being an NFL MVP.
Murray isn’t the only one to blame when it comes to the offense. There doesn’t seem to be enough balance in what this team is trying to do. They either try to throw the ball to Deandre Hopkins or they attempt a college-like RPO (Run, pass-option). Those RPO’s used to be where Murray would keep the ball and pick up huge chunks of yardage. Now defenses are keying on him on those plays and making him hand the ball off most times to Kenyon Drake or Chase Edmonds. It’s not working. There needs to be more balance to this offense, the play calling seems stale. That falls on the head coach.
So does the fact that this team leads the NFL in penalties. It would also really help if the Arizona defense could make a stop on 3rd and long. If the Rams offense seemed to be on the field all game yesterday, it’s because they were by almost doubling the time of possession the Cardinals had. Special teams needs to massively improve. Zane Gonzalez has a case of the yips when attempting field goals and very well could be released before the Cardinals play another game.
That next game is a scary one. The Cardinals have to go to the East Coast – a part of the country they rarely win at – and take on the Giants who have become the new darlings of the NFC. They’ve won 4 games in a row. The Cardinals have lost 3 games in a row and if not for that Hail Mary prayer that was answered against the Bills, they would be losers of 5 straight. Scary indeed.
Yesterday’s loss knocked the Cardinals out of the current playoff picture with 4 games remaining. A lot can change by the end of the regular season but that is the point. A lot needs to change for the Cardinals if they plan on playing after 16 games. The quarterback needs to make better decisions, not pout and simply play better. The head coach needs to change up his play calling a bit and demand more discipline. The defense needs to stiffen, and the kicker needs to make kicks.
Doesn’t seem to be a lot to ask of an NFL team…but then again…here in Arizona….maybe it is.