Chris Simms explains how Kyler Murray can improve in QB rankings
Former NFL quarterback Chris Simms thought Kyler Murray would end up in the top-10 of his annual rankings of NFL quarterbacks.
After going through the exercise for NBC Sports, though, Simms ranked the Arizona Cardinals quarter just outside that group at 12th. He fell off after ranking seventh last season.
“This is one of the most physically gifted quarterbacks in the NFL, hands down. There is the banner statement. There is a lot to like about what he brings to the table,” Simms said in his breakdown.
Murray, who missed three games last season due to an ankle injury, ranked eighth in passer rating and seventh in QBR, according to ESPN.
How he performed down the stretch changed the narrative about where he belongs in the quarterback hierarchy. It wasn’t just the poor performance (137 passing yards, two interceptions and two sacks) in the NFC Wild Card loss to the Los Angeles Rams.
Simms said he saw teams confound Murray and the Cardinals by keeping the quarterback contained to the pocket, citing late-season games against the Rams, Packers, Lions and Colts.
“It’s not good in the pocket,” Simms said. “The more you watch, it’s good in the pocket when it’s open and it’s free and there’s no pressure. … What you saw as the season went along a little bit, teams are getting used to these quarterbacks, these fast quarterbacks.”
Obviously, the play-calling and personnel construction around Murray deserve criticism, too.
Simms likes Murray’s decision-making in terms of where to go with the ball or when to pull it and run. But there are downfield opportunities to be had on third downs or in terms of hunting big plays that take awhile to develop.
“He’s not going to stand in there and (say), ‘Oh wait, the pocket is collapsing, the post is coming open down the middle, pat the ball one more time, you’re gonna get crushed but it’s gonna be a touchdown,'” Simms said. “It’s not going to happen. He’s going to duck or run.
“I think there’s still some meat left on the bones improving at that.”
Simms also believes that Murray — regardless of his personality type — can grow more as a leader.
“Maybe it is who he is,” Simms said. “He has to find a way … within who he is to maybe have a little more effect on the football team. He’s the man, they’re still going to be good, he’ll still be good if he continues to approach it the way he wants to. He’s gotta start being an (expletive) or something … ‘What’s going on here is not acceptable, we got to fix some things.’
“A vocal leader, something along those lines.”