He’s the man: Kyler Murray opens Cardinals camp as the future
GLENDALE, Ariz. — Kyler Murray has been peppered with questions of how and why over the past year.
How could he succeed as an atypical quarterback in stature? Why enter the MLB Draft, win a Heisman and then realize that the NFL is his future? How will a college offense translate to the pros?
In his amateur career, he answered any questions by winning: forty-two straight games as a starting quarterback at Allen High School in Texas and 24 of 29 of games he played during college at Texas A&M and Oklahoma.
The Arizona Cardinals aren’t expected to find themselves winning quite as much. And that’s the one thing nobody — not past coaches nor friends — knows about Murray: How will he react to losing?
“I haven’t really thought about losing so I don’t really know,” Murray said, “but I don’t plan on it.”
Arizona has put all its marbles on this 5-foot-10 and 1/8-inch quarterback and his head coach, Kliff Kingsbury, who on Thursday continued to answer questions about why this offense led by this quarterback will succeed in 2019. The coach said the identity of the offense has yet to be set and won’t be until the regular season starts.
But it does rely on universal fundamentals of football. Block well, and get the run game going. Get all 11 guys on the same page. Execute. Blah blah blah.
It also relies on a quarterback who can think it through and communicate it to teammates.
By all accounts, Murray is that starting quarterback from the first day of camp.
The verbiage of the system has become a Kliff-and-Kyler dialect melded from the college attacks from Texas Tech and Oklahoma. Kingsbury admitted the only big changes have involved working on headset-to-helmet play-calling rather than the sideline signalling employed by college teams.
Once Arizona selected him first overall, Murray became the starting quarterback. Veteran Brett Hundley is not going to take it from him unless Murray suffers an injury.
“It’s all about the skillset, obviously having the right quarterback to be able to run the system,” receiver Larry Fitzgerald said. “This is something Kyler’s been doing for a very long time, he’s comfortable in it, he’s got an intimate understanding of what coach Kliff Kingsbury is going to do with it. He knows exactly what’s going on in every single facet of the offense. It makes things go.
“When you look in his eyes, there’s nothing timid about him,” Fitzgerald added. “He’s going to be here a lot longer than I’ll be here. It’s more about me getting on his page than him getting on my page, because I’ll be out the door before he will. It’s going to be his show. If you want to be part of it, get on board.”
Wide receiver Christian Kirk said on Wednesday that Murray has all the controls at his fingertips. Defensive tackle Corey Peters admitted that the offense is different enough from traditional pro style attacks that Arizona’s defense will need to prep for regular season opponents by facing the scout team — just to recalibrate to the usual NFL schemes.
Arizona players seem to believe in this experiment because they trust Murray.
He knows what he’s doing. He’s steady. He’s competitive.
“He was my roommate for a little bit,” said rookie receiver Hakeem Butler.
Murray wasn’t throwing his controller when he lost a video game to his teammate, but Butler swears the quarterback’s competitiveness comes out on the couch and on the field.
“He’s calm, poised kind of guy,” Butler said. “He don’t plan on losing. That’s not something he does.”
If losses pile up, it would be a first for Murray, who hasn’t dropped two football games in a row since sometime before high school. Probably.
Kingsbury, having recruited Murray out of high school, was asked on Thursday how the young quarterback might handle such failures.
“Not well. That’s his mentality. That’s why he’s been what he is at every sport that he’s played,” Kingsbury said.
“He’s the ultimate competitor. That’s why he is what he is, the first guy to be a top-10 pick in two sports. You don’t get that way unless you’re extremely mentally tough and super competitive. I don’t see any adversity shaking him at all.”