ARIZONA CARDINALS

Former Cardinals Palmer, Warner see flaw in Kyler Murray’s rookie tape

May 20, 2020, 11:12 AM | Updated: May 21, 2020, 9:24 am
Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray (1) throws as Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Devin Bush ...
Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray (1) throws as Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Devin Bush pursues during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
(AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

To make this much clear, former Arizona Cardinals quarterbacks Kurt Warner and Carson Palmer have glowing reviews of Kyler Murray’s performance during his rookie season.

Warner gushes over Murray’s ability to spin the ball with velocity, angles and catchability. Palmer loves Murray’s 2019 touchdown-to-interception ratio, 20-12, and believes his athletic ability can be harnessed even more in the ground attack.

However, if there was any red flag, a fatal flaw, that stood out from Murray’s rookie year, both of the Cardinals greats share a similar concern.

“There were just a lot of easy throws that could’ve been made that he didn’t make,” Warner said in Doug & Wolf’s QB1 roundtable on Arizona Sports. “It wasn’t the throws, it’s more the mental side of it, not seeing easy completions and big completions on the field — often times with what I would consider a simpler concept.”

The question is “why?” Why didn’t Murray see the simple reads?

Warner admits there are the obvious reasons. The game could be moving quickly for a rookie quarterback.

Palmer pointed out that Murray only threw 377 passes in his final year at Oklahoma and 142 total up to that point in college. He came to the NFL as the No. 1 pick without tons of live game experience.

Many of his missed throws weren’t throws at all.

“We kind of call it making the layups: the things you’re supposed to do,” Warner said of what he saw. “He didn’t make those reads and throws last year, sometimes quite often during the course of the game.

“It alarmed me at times, you know, when I would watch it and go, ‘My gosh, I don’t know how he missed this one.’”

As much as Palmer wants Murray to use his legs more on designed runs — head coach and play-caller Kliff Kingsbury will have the say there — he also saw easy misses from Murray as a rookie.

“At some point, he’s going to have to sit in the pocket and somebody’s going to take away his legs and he’s got to get the ball out on time,” Palmer said. “As Kurt was saying, there was multiple times where you’re like, from Kurt and I’s perspective: ‘Ah, throw the curl! Oh.’ And he got outside the pocket and ran around and sprinted over here.

“All that time as a quarterback I’m sitting there going, man, the whole franchise is in jeopardy right now. All that running around — all he had to do is take five steps and throw that curl for a nine-yard gain.”

A lot of those concerning plays could be missed by the average fan.

Murray rushed for 544 yards as a rookie and completed 64% of his passes, but even un-planned sneaks or video game-esque throws on the run that led to positive yardage aren’t wins in the eyes of Warner or Palmer, who both added Murray has the obvious talent to correct those whiffs.

“You got to take this curl or it’s a high-angle corner route — not the highest-percentage throw on the field — but that coverage dictated that you throw this ball to that high-angle corner route but you didn’t … it’s those easy plays you want to see him process,” Palmer said.

All that, again, comes with this starting point.

Said Warner: “He is just a gifted, gifted thrower and has some rare traits from that standpoint that again just keep me excited about what the possibilities could be when you have that much physical talent. To me it’s about what he can do with his right arm that can make him really, really special.”

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