Concerns over Kyler Murray’s size continue to be overblown

Jul 29, 2019, 5:10 PM | Updated: Jul 30, 2019, 2:11 pm
Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray, left, takes the snap as Cardinals wide receiver Larry F...

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray, left, takes the snap as Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, right, goes out for a pass during NFL football practice at State Farm Stadium Friday, July 26, 2019, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Kyler Murray has elite speed, a schoolboy legend and a Heisman Trophy. He may not have the same arm talent as Chiefs star Patrick Mahomes, but he’s in the same gated neighborhood.

That alone should excite Cardinals fans to their core.

Unfortunately, there is skepticism and cynics spawned from the three-win, five-alarm dumpster fire in 2018. That’s fair. But here’s the where the line must be drawn:

Murray’s skillset can’t be overstated. He’s so quick that he rarely throws a football with poor mechanics. He has touch and a fastball. He throws ropes and rainbows. He passes naturally from multiple arm angles, which he attributes to his successful background in baseball. And when he starts running, you might catch him in the end zone.

He’s also guarded emotionally. You begin to understand why.

“How tall are you really?” asked former NFL star Steve Smith during a recent interview for the NFL Network.

Murray’s eyes narrow, his relaxed demeanor changing noticeably.

“C’mon,” he says.

“I’m 5-9 and three-fourths,” Smith said. “So that’s why I was asking.”

“I don’t think you are,” Murray countered.

Later, the two men stand heel-to-heel, facing away from each other. Murray is clearly taller.

At first blush, Smith’s question seemed to put the bush in ambush. But you can’t defy the truth. Murray’s stocky build and short-ish arms occasionally skew the visual. He is much bigger in person, buffered with muscle and taller than you think. But it’s easy for him to look small on a football field. Many fans have a very visceral visual reaction. It’s part of his charm. It’s part of his legend. It’s part of what might make him a true American superstar.

As long as he never feels small, we’re good.

What really makes Murray special entering the 2019 season is his command of the Cardinals’ offense, and thereby, his command of the men playing offense. This is also where the hardest questions remain under bubble wrap, guarded like state secrets.

How much of Kliff Kingsbury’s will further revolutionize NFL offense? How much before defenses spit the Cardinals back out? Is Murray custom-built for an offense destined to soar or destined to fail? How much is too much?

Over three seasons at Texas Tech, Kingsbury pushed the envelope, playing with three- and four-man wide receiver sets 80 percent of the time. The NFL is far more conservative and far less tolerant of innovation, where the average Air Raid-like scheme is used less than 10 percent of the time.

There is point where the NFL will start choking on all of this collegiate assimilation, where innovation meets a bloody end. Where is that line? Where is that place? Do Kingsbury and Steve Keim have any clue?

Murray is part of a new wave of NFL quarterbacks, talented prodigies handed familiar systems and terminology instead of foreign playbooks. None of them possess the gifts he brings to the table.

Early in camp, D.J. Humphries marveled at the purpose and chutzpah in Murray’s voice, how the young quarterback chided him for transitioning too slowly to the next play. Team broadcaster Dave Pasch marveled at a practice rep when Murray could be seen counseling David Johnson and aligning his wide receivers before snapping the ball.

“How often do you see that from a rookie?” he asked.


Thanks to Smith’s interview, we have also learned that Murray likes things a certain way. His shoelaces must match his shirt. He likes white cleats, not red. He doesn’t plan on losing, no matter what the oddsmakers say.

But football rarely goes according to plan. All plans change when you get hit, as famously stated by Mike Tyson. And that’s when Murray’s NFL career will truly begin.

Reach Bickley at dbickley@bonneville.com. Listen to Bickley & Marotta weekdays from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station.

Life Changer Loans

Life Changer Loans

Dan Bickley

Head coach Monty Williams of the Phoenix Suns talks with Deandre Ayton #22 in the second half of ga...
Dan Bickley

Silence between Deandre Ayton, Monty Williams defies all expectations

The indifference of Phoenix Suns head coach Monty Williams is stunning. So much that it must be the entire point, writes Dan Bickley.
16 hours ago
Arizona Cardinals cornerback Byron Murphy Jr. (7) runs back for the winning touchdown after a fumbl...
Dan Bickley

Cardinals save season with all-time comeback win over Raiders

The Cardinals’ 29-23 victory over the Raiders was breathtaking, unbelievable and saved the franchise from last place and fan-based mutiny.
10 days ago
Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver sits during the first half of the NBA game against the Golden Stat...
Dan Bickley

NBA punishment to Suns owner Robert Sarver is slap on the wrist

A slap on the wrist. That’s what most NBA people think about Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver’s punishment.
15 days ago
Head coach Kliff Kingsbury of the Arizona Cardinals paces the sidelines during the second half of t...
Dan Bickley

Cardinals organization top-down responsible for embarrassing Week 1 loss

The Cardinals lost 44-21 to the Chiefs, but the game wasn’t as close as the final score, and that’s saying something.
17 days ago
Arizona Cardinals mascot, "Big Red" leads teammates onto the field before the NFL preseason game ag...
Dan Bickley

Can Arizona Cardinals rebuild home-field advantage by beating Chiefs?

The Arizona Cardinals haven't had much of a home-field advantage lately, something they must recapture in 2022.
20 days ago
Arizona Cardinals' head coach Kliff Kingsbury watches drills during the NFL football team's trainin...
Dan Bickley

Do Kliff Kingsbury’s unorthodox offseasons help or hurt Cardinals?

What if the Camp Marshmallow atmosphere in Arizona is partially to blame for ghastly collapses in each of the past two seasons?
23 days ago
Concerns over Kyler Murray’s size continue to be overblown