It’s a trap? Undefeated Cardinals not overlooking winless Jaguars

Sep 22, 2021, 3:30 PM | Updated: 3:32 pm
Quarterback Kyler Murray #1 of the Arizona Cardinals celebrates in the end zone after scoring a rus...
Quarterback Kyler Murray #1 of the Arizona Cardinals celebrates in the end zone after scoring a rushing touchdown against the Minnesota Vikings in the second quarter of the game at State Farm Stadium on September 19, 2021 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
(Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

The Arizona Cardinals are one of just seven teams without a blemish on the their record through two games this season.

Arizona’s Week 3 opponent in the Jacksonville Jaguars are the complete opposite as one of seven teams without a win in 2021.

It’s safe to say a lot of people expect a Cardinals win on Sunday, with Arizona favored by at least a touchdown by many in Week 3, the most points its seen in a single game this year.

Sound familiar?

The Cardinals found themselves in a similar spot last season, riding a 2-0 start into a Week 3 matchup with the winless Detroit Lions.

The very winnable game fell in Detroit’s favor, handing Arizona its first loss of the season in a rough fashion. The Cardinals ended up dropping the next contest as well on their way to finishing one game out of the playoffs.

After feeling that sting in 2020, the Cardinals aren’t about to look ahead to Week 4 before playing a full 60 minutes in Jacksonville.

“I don’t believe in [trap games],” quarterback Kyler Murray said after practice Wednesday. “If we don’t come to play, we don’t come to play.

“As far as trap game goes, we were 2-0 last year and we kind of (expletive) the bed the next two, last year. I don’t see that happening. We’re focused on this one and we’re going to give our all to this one.”

Head coach Kliff Kingsbury doesn’t think the team needs much motivation to get after it Sunday after watching back last week’s film Tuesday.

“The way we played last week definitely got our players’ attentions,” he said. “We didn’t play like we know we can. … I expect us to try and improve this week.”

Scrambling “a point of emphasis” for Murray, Cardinals

Murray has proven to be one of the top quarterbacks at evading the rush and making things happen with his arm.

He showed off his abilities in Sunday’s win over the Minnesota Vikings, reaching 16.26 mph on a scramble that ended with a 77-yard touchdown pass to Rondale Moore, per NFL Next Gen Stats. In Week 1 against Tennessee, Murray reached 16.81 mph during a scramble.

It may look like nothing but a jumbled mess in the moment — or “helter skelter” as Kingsbury put it — but there’s much more method to the madness than meets the eye.

Organized chaos at its finest.

“When you’ve got mobile quarterbacks, you’ve got to practice it,” Murray said Wednesday. “It’s a huge part of the game. It’s tough to score in the red zone, let alone score at all with the defense being good.

“Sometimes stuff breaks down, you’ve got to be able to make plays, and that’s why we practice it. The guys know where they need to be each play. Every play is different, but they understand the deepest guy has such-and-such, the lowest guy has such-and-such.”

With the mobile Murray, scramble drills are a weekly occurrence at the Cardinals practice facility.

They aren’t taken lightly, either, especially after seeing the success Murray and the offense has had the first two weeks scrambling.

“It’s a point of emphasis for us and somewhere where I think we can get even better from where we are now,” wide receiver Christian Kirk said Tuesday. “But when Kyler starts to break the pocket … our sense of urgency has to kick in.

“Our main job is to separate and get open. … We understand that it’s basically a second chance during that play and we have to take those opportunities when they present themselves.”

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It’s a trap? Undefeated Cardinals not overlooking winless Jaguars