Kyler Murray came to the line against the Titans last week, saw the defense in a Cover Zero all-out blitz-to-come, and changed the play.
A few moments later, he put the perfect pass over the head of Christian Kirk for a 26-yard touchdown. And coach Kliff Kingsbury had another example of his quarterback’s growth.
“A couple of those touchdown throws where he got us into different plays against a coverage that he liked, that was a big step,” Kingsbury said. “When he can see the field like that and take the matchups we had that are favorable in those situations, that’s moving in the right direction.”
Experience matters in that regard. Murray knows that two full seasons of working within Kingsbury’s offense and seeing hundreds of different looks changes a quarterback’s confidence level.
“Seeing a lot of looks, knowing what to call at the line, what to check to, instead of in my rookie season, knowing maybe I should get out of this play but not knowing what I should check to,” Murray said. “Now, it’s just natural and it’s easy.”
It isn’t just Murray who helps in that regard. On DeAndre Hopkins’ catch-and-spin 17-yard touchdown, Murray said veteran center Rodney Hudson saw the defense – again a cover zero – and alerted Murray to make a change on the play.
Confidence matters, and Murray said he only makes a chance when “I know it’s going to work.”
“The touchdown to CKirk, we got the look we wanted,” Murray said. “On the sideline Kliff might’ve not been too happy with what I was doing, but it ended up working out. That’s how it goes.”
RUN GAME SOLID TO START
That the Cardinals came out of a game with significantly better rushing numbers than an opponent with the NFL’s leading rusher was a surprise. The Cards had 136 yards on the ground compared to the Titans’ 86 last week, stats running back Chase Edmondscalled “solid.”
Murray only ran for 20, highlighting that Edmonds (12 carries for 63 yards) and James Conner (16-53) had a productive day. In the fourth quarter, the two combined for 11 of their carries for 32 yards and they worked to run out the blowout win.
“That is something James and I talked about literally on the sideline,” Edmonds said. “Right after we scored and hit 31, I was talking to him, ‘This is our time. We have to really grind these guys. We’ve got to get some first downs, lean on these boys and take it home.’ That’s something James and I take huge pride in. He and I play with a huge chip on our shoulder with the outside world and what they say about us.”
Kingsbury said he did not know yet if right tackle Kelvin Beachum will be available to play Sunday against the Vikings. Beachum did not practice Wednesday, and linebacker Devon Kennard (hamstring) and safety Charles Washington (thigh) both also sat. Veterans sitting out for rest were wide receiver A.J. Green, wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins and center Rodney Hudson.
For the Vikings, cornerback Harrison Hand (hamstring) and linebacker Anthony Barr (knee) didn’t practice. Tackle Christian Darrisaw (groin) and linebacker Nick Vigil (ankle) were limited.