NFL Network’s Brooks, Jeremiah discuss how the Cardinals can help Kyler Murray

Oct 1, 2022, 1:00 PM
Quarterback Kyler Murray #1 of the Arizona Cardinals is sacked by linebacker Terrell Lewis #52 of t...
Quarterback Kyler Murray #1 of the Arizona Cardinals is sacked by linebacker Terrell Lewis #52 of the Los Angeles Rams closes in the second quarter of the game at State Farm Stadium on September 25, 2022 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Mike Christy/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mike Christy/Getty Images)

Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray has had moments of brilliance in the first three games of the season, particularly in the fourth quarter of Arizona’s 29-23 win over the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 2.

But the offense has not quite clicked, as it put up 12 points last week against the Los Angeles Rams to drop Arizona to 1-2.

Injuries to key playmakers and the suspension of DeAndre Hopkins loom large, but NFL Network analysts Bucky Brooks and Daniel Jeremiah questioned if the Cardinals are doing everything they can to make the game easier on Murray.

“He’s not really a timing and rhythm player, he’s a sandlot creator who has big-time ability,” Brooks said on the Move the Sticks podcast. “He’s always played in these wide-open offenses. I wonder what it would be like if he got under center some … where you took some of the pressure off him having to create and put it on the play caller.”

Brooks noted that head coach Kliff Kingsbury is not accustomed to an under-center offense, but the analyst questioned if more run-pass options and bootlegs would help.

The Cardinals have run six RPOs this season and only five plays out of play-action, the latter ranks last in the NFL, according to Pro Football Reference. They were top three in the NFL in both play calls last year.

Jeremiah asked how Murray would look on a team with a more consistent run game.

The Cardinals had that for spurts in 2021 with the pairing of James Conner and Chase Edmonds, but injuries in the second half of the season hampered that dynamic.

Arizona has not developed consistent ground game production this year.

The Cardinals rank No. 16 on the ground in defense-adjusted value over average (DVOA) and No. 22 in running back yards, according to Football Outsiders.

“I don’t know that he can’t play in a different style of offense where it’s not as spread and shred,” Jeremiah said. “How does he look on a team that’s got a little more of a run game, a physical, dynamic presence in that run game and has a pass attack built off that run game, off play-action as opposed to spreading everybody out and letting him try to make magic happen?”

Murray said this week he wanted to see running back Conner more involved in the offense.

The Cardinals have continued to live out of 10- and 11-personnel despite injuries to Rondale Moore, Antoine Wesley and now A.J. Green. Marquise Brown is questionable for Sunday’s game against the Carolina Panthers, too.

Going heavy has not been part of Kingsbury’s mantra, even with the Cardinals drafting tight end Trey McBride in the second round this past April.

“When they are so 10-personnel heavy, what running game have they built and what complementary play-action pass game have they built?” Brooks asked. “All of those things fall into the mix.”

The Cardinals and Panthers face off at 1:05 p.m. Sunday afternoon. Catch the game on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station. 

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NFL Network’s Brooks, Jeremiah discuss how the Cardinals can help Kyler Murray