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Palmer: Kyler Murray could achieve goal of 100-plus rushing yards a week

Quarterback Kyler Murray #1 of the Arizona Cardinals scrambles away from defensive lineman DeForest Buckner #99 of the San Francisco 49ers during the second half of the NFL football game at State Farm Stadium on October 31, 2019 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images)

It has been an impressive rookie campaign for Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray.

Showing big-play ability, making difficult throws and executing all while taking care of the ball hasn’t been a problem for the No. 1 overall pick out of Oklahoma in his first NFL season.

Even working through some rookie kinks, Murray has parts of his game that are explosive already.

One of those is his scrambling and making plays on the run, where he’s had a highlight or two already.

But in terms of untapped potential through nine weeks, Ring of Honor member Carson Palmer wants to see more of what Murray can do with the afterburners.

“I’d like to see him exploit his legs even more,” he said joining 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station’s Doug & Wolf Friday.

“He’s proved that he can stay in the pocket and throw it, and throw on the run, but there’s a reason he went number one. And when you go number one you’re a little bit different than everybody else and what makes him different and unique and special is his legs.”

It’s a really astute point by Palmer, as Murray has game-changing speed but statistically isn’t quite producing where he potentially could. For example, the Baltimore Ravens’ Lamar Jackson leads all quarterbacks in rushing with 637 yards. While Jackson embraces contact and has far more size, he doubles Murray’s second-place number of 313.

For Palmer, it’s more about the mindset Murray should have, being ready enough to flip that switch.

“I’ve kinda felt watching him all year he’s getting a little bit more confident running and trying to figure out more what [he] can get away with and what [he] can’t get away with,” he said. “I’d just like to see him trust his legs and just go into a game going ‘You know what, I’m the best athlete on the field, I’m the fastest guy out here. If it ain’t there, I’m gone’ and just hit the gas.”

That’s a process that takes time, as Palmer notes. With that in mind, though, Palmer thinks Murray is athletic enough to post big numbers every game.

“It takes at least a year,” he said. “We’d all like him to speed up that process a little bit more but there’s no doubt that if he wanted to set a goal to get 100 yards rushing each week, he could do it if he just took off a little bit earlier.”

Specifically, Palmer sees a few things standing out beyond the overall goal of running and improvising more.

“‘I could throw this ball for seven yards in a tight window but I could hit this seam for 15, I could hit this gap for 20.'” he said.

Now, 100 yards might sound high. It’s speaking more to the impact Murray’s ground game can have over 60 minutes, and it hasn’t happened much. Murray has had 35 yards rushing or more only twice in nine games. It feels like Murray has had big moments on his legs, and those have come, but he’s only had three runs go for 20 yards or more.

There’s also how head coach Kliff Kingsbury has implemented that part of Murray’s skills into the gameplan, not running nearly as many designed runs for him as someone like Jackson.

It’s less about that, though, for Palmer and more simplistic when Murray decides to turn upfield.

“He’s really kind of shifty and looking to juke people — I just want to see him go and really rely on his speed because I think that’s really the game-changer for him,” he said.

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