Kyler Murray and the Allure of the Scrambling QB
I must divulge I am a long time Arizona Cardinals fan, suffering all the way back to the days of Jake "The Snake" Plummer, Jeff Blake and Josh McCown. You'll have to excuse my bias when discussing the latest fad in the NFL and what would appear to be the NFL's darling phenom, Kyler Murray, who just might be the most electrifying QB in the league.
Now a scrambling QB in the NFL is nothing ground-breaking or even rare for that matter, but I have a feeling that Murray may be on the precipice of breaking a mould that has existed in perpetuity in the league. That mould being quarterbacks must look to pass first and run only as an expiring option to avoid a disastrous play or turnover. This kid may very well become an athlete that we are talking reverently about 10-20 years from now if he should maintain his current career trajectory.
Murray, under the tutelage of former Winnipeg Bluebomber and Montreal Alouette QB, Kliff Kingsbury has flourished in this helter-skelter system in which designed QB runs are not only common-place but are often a go-to in the Cards offence. Cardinals head coach and offensive guru Kingsbury has always employed this type of sandlot style offence whether he was coaching at Texas Tech University or helping Johnny Manzeil develop in 2012 at Texas A&M.
An interesting aside is that Kliff Kingsbury was the third-string QB for a Bombers team that lost to the Saskatchewan Roughriders in the 2007 Grey Cup! He was signed to the Alouettes practice roster and was traded to Winnipeg during 2007's training camp for fellow QB Brad Banks, I recall Banks but not Kingsbury.
As it stands, Murray is leading all NFL quarterbacks in rushing and sits 10th overall in rushing yards at 650. It was evident that teams are wising up to his game as the Patriots almost nullified his versatility this past Sunday. Having said that, it is entirely possible for him to eclipse the 1000 yard threshold this season, a milestone that his contemporary adversary Lamar Jackson did just last year! Lamar rushed for 1200 yards on his way to becoming the league's unanimous MVP in only his 2nd season. I should add that Kyler was drafted 9th overall by the Oakland A's in 2018 and it was a toss-up whether he was going the baseball route or pursuing the NFL. What a diverse athlete!
Although Kyler has already won a Heisman trophy and been selected 1st overall, I cannot help as a Cardinals fan but to be left wanting more from him. One can't deny Murray is the most exciting QB in the NFL right now, but his decision-making and propensity to turn the ball over certainly signify that his growth and development must continue to trend in the right direction for his sake and that of the Redbirds.
Murray's innate ability to make something out of nothing reminds me of the greats that came before him such as Michael Vick, Randall Cunningham, and Kordell Stewart. At a very generous 5' 9 1/2" tall, I can't help but wonder if this escapability was an adaptation born out of necessity. Pass knockdowns continue to be a problem for the Cardinal's starter. I will concede that I had hoped his progression as a field general would've proceeded at a faster rate, but alas, he is still making some bad decisions and turning the ball over which you cannot do in a tight NFC and an even closer NFC West.
As an admitted lifelong Cardinals fan you may be asking yourself "geez, it doesn't seem like this guy even likes Kyler Murray at all."
For whatever reason folks, we are always hardest on those we love the most!
Stay safe sports fans, 'till next time