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Kurt Warner ‘very optimistic’ Kyler Murray can be Cardinals’ franchise QB

(Photo by John Jones/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

It was no doubt the biggest question for the Arizona Cardinals coming into their 2019 season. Will rookie quarterback Kyler Murray and first-year head coach Kliff Kingsbury’s offense be successful in the NFL?

The sample size of only two weeks isn’t enough to answer that question definitively, but there have been flashes that Murray can spearhead this offense, if his back-to-back 300-yard passing performances serve as evidence. Murray joins the Carolina Panthers’ Cam Newton as the only quarterbacks to accomplish that feat in each of their first two games in the NFL.

“The reason that they are having success on offense is because of that young man,” Hall of Famer and former Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner told 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station‘s Doug & Wolf on Monday.

“He is making some throws and some plays that aren’t really there in a lot of situations that are really keeping this offense afloat. The reason they got back into that [Detroit Lions] game a week ago and stayed in that game yesterday was a lot because that young man is making some crazy throws.”

The Cardinals have had plenty of opportunities to score points. But the red zone offense has plagued Arizona. Through two games this season, the team has stalled on six of its eight trips inside the 20-yard line, including kicking three field goals with the ball inside the 5-yard line in the 23-17 road loss to the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday. Arizona’s 25% red-zone conversion percentage ranks 31st in the NFL.

“I think it’s getting the feel as the play-caller,” Warner said. “When you get down there you always have to have options and ways to beat defenses. A lot of teams are playing more man down there, so I’ve seen them a number of times call a bunch of man-beaters into tight coverage.

“What Baltimore did yesterday is play man but they also had a safety that was kind of lurking back there that would run and double team certain guys. You just have to have different options down there. It just seems like they are a little off in that regard.”

The Cardinals’ play-calling was extremely lopsided in Baltimore. Murray was 25-of-40 for 349 yards with no touchdowns, while the running game only had 11 rushing attempts for 20 yards and the team’s lone touchdown.

“I think you just have to have different options down there and you have to be able to be prepared for everything because teams can do so many different things down there,” Warner said.

“That might mean run the football, have options to be able to run the football. You have to be prepared for all of it and have those different options, especially when you get tight into the red zone.”

Albeit the Cardinals have struggled early in games and especially in the red zone this season, Murray has proven that he can compete at the highest level and perhaps be the team’s franchise quarterback.

“To me, a franchise quarterback is a guy that when nothing else is working that you can keep your team in the game,” Warner said. “You can give your team a chance with your right arm, or whatever skills you have, every time you step onto the field if nothing else is working.

“Offensively, they haven’t had much going for them other than what Kyler has done to keep them in games. To see a young kid really be the reason why you’ve been in two games when a lot of stuff has gone against you, I think that bodes really, really well. I’m very optimistic that he has a chance to be that guy.”

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