Eyes on Kyler: 98.7 FM on the expectations for the Cardinals QB
The Arizona Cardinals went against the grain with their No. 1 draft pick.
Yet Kyler Murray enters the NFL unlike most rookie quarterbacks, even those who lined up under or behind center to start in Week 1 of the season.
The Cardinals had already hired head coach Kliff Kingsbury, not only a quarterback guru who has mentored recent college greats but one who knew Murray personally and ran a similar offense at Texas Tech than the one Murray played in at Oklahoma.
So from Day 1 of training camp, Murray knew the offense and its operations well. He was teaching concepts to the likes of Larry Fitzgerald.
There will be more to learn as he begins facing NFL defenses each week. Through struggle and success, the outside chatter — including questions about his height and ability to succeed as a dual-threat quarterback — will follow him all year long.
As for us in Arizona, we posed a simple question to hosts and editors of 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station and ArizonaSports.com: “What do you expect out of Kyler Murray as a rookie?”
Here’s what they said.
Vince Marotta, co-host of Bickley & Marotta: One thing I’m fairly certain of for 2019 is that the Cardinals will be able to confidently check the item “get franchise QB” off their to-do list. Kyler Murray has been very impressive in his short time here, mostly through his poise, confidence and knowledge of the Kingsbury offense. I think those things will rub off on others as the season wears on, but Murray, statistically, should have an impact very similar to what Baker Mayfield’s was for the Browns last year.
John Gambadoro, co-host of Burns & Gambo: Starting from Week 1 in an offense that he knows better than anyone on the team is an advantage for Murray, as is the pace and tempo at which they want to play. It should lead to a good statistical season for Murray, maybe even comparable to what Baker Mayfield accomplished last season. I do expect him to add a dynamic rushing element to the offense of over 500 yards rushing — although not as much by design but more by broken plays a la Russell Wilson.
I also expect three to four dynamic games, which to me is either 250 yards passing with three touchdowns either passing or rushing, or 300 yards passing and two total touchdowns. We did not get any dynamic games out of Josh Rosen this past season; I think Murray will wow us a few times this year.
Dave Burns, co-host of Burns & Gambo: Kyler will give us what Josh Rosen never could. Beginning to end complete games where you can see the evidence that he is the future. Rosen had moments to be sure but never full games where you came in to work the next day with little doubt that he was the man. It never happened. It will happen with Murray at least a couple of times.
Doug Franz, co-host of Doug & Wolf: I think he’ll play as well as he can but I do think he’ll have to scramble too much. I see the weight of the world on his shoulders, not from fans or media, but from the devastation of a couple 3-and-outs. If the defense can’t stop the run, that puts more pressure on the offense to sustain drives. As the pressure mounts during a game, rookie QBs tend to force plays that aren’t there to be made.
Luke Lapinski, host of The Rundown with Luke Lapinski: I expect him to take control of this team and win rookie of the year. Maybe that’s asking a lot, but it’s not like this is a loaded rookie crop he’s going up against, and he’s the No. 1 pick at the most important position on the field who has known he’ll be the starter since the night he was drafted. He’s got the skill to pull it off, and it seems like he has the right mindset too.
Kevin Zimmerman, editor of ArizonaSports.com: Nobody is talking about what it takes for an NFL rookie quarterback to begin disecting complex defenses. That’s a learning curve where Murray is right with every rookie quarterback this year and every one from past seasons. But he’s far ahead of most rookies in knowing his own offense. Training camp provided proof that his arm truly is NFL starter quality with the accuracy and the way it flies off his hand. His acceleration when the pocket busts is even more elite than his top speed.
I’d expect his interception count will be higher than you’d like because he’s going to take risks and get bit by some, but Murray is going to push for 3,000 passing yards and 400 rushing yards.
Kellan Olson, editor of ArizonaSports.com: It’s less about expectations for me and more about looking at specific sills that do more than “flash” as a rookie. How truly dynamic is he going to be as a playmaker with his feet? Where does he fall on the spectrum of being capable of all the throws versus consistently making the tough ones? How often does he turn “nothing” into “something” like his biggest comp, Russell Wilson? Getting answers to those questions will give us a good indication of whether he’s got stardom in his future.