Watching Kyler Murray play football is an out-of-body experience, so an All-22 film review is necessary. I legitimately felt myself floating over my gaming chair, seeing myself watch him look like Michael Vick in Madden 2004. Patrick Mahomes is the best quarterback in the NFL and quite possibly the greatest of all time. But I think Murray is more difficult to defend. You can’t tackle what you can’t touch.
Kyler Murray All-22 film review: “Traditional” quarterbacking
Murray’s off-structure playmaking ability is what makes him unique. However, a quarterback cannot survive solely off his ability to create. We can head to New York to see that in action.
Do yourself a favor — go check out Murray’s passing charts from 2020 on Next Gen Stats. It doesn’t take an All-22 film review to see that Murray and the Cardinals’ offense is significantly different in 2021.
There isn’t a single area of the field the Cardinals cannot attack in 2021. Last season, there was a lot of predictability in the number of passes that were floating at or around the line of scrimmage. Additionally, Arizona didn’t properly utilize the middle of the field.
In 2021, the offensive line is playing better, and Murray is far more decisive and able to attack the middle intermediate zones.
Arm. Strength. Matters.
Admittedly, this ball could probably come out a bit sooner. Murray loads as Christian Kirk is making his break. However, because Murray possesses a lightning release and generates the velocity of an F-22 Raptor, it doesn’t matter that the throw is a hair late.
But these are the plays a quarterback has to make to be considered elite. One must be able to convert on third-and-long situations. Having natural accuracy and arm strength allows Murray to excel here.
Being a freeze tag champion doesn’t hurt, either. But we’ll get to that.
The two plays above show what Murray can do in explosive situations within the “traditional” role of quarterbacking. He isn’t worried about making the play every time he drops back to pass. He’s not consistently trying to create a splash play. Murray has learned to take what’s given to him, and it’s working well.
His pre-snap ability seems improved because he’s been sharp, making quick decisions and delivering passes while seamlessly making tough leverage reads on defensive backs. There is also zero hesitation while going through progressions in the quick game, and Murray’s sequencing is sublime.
Possessing his athletic ability also helps because the RPO game is a massive weapon in Arizona’s offense. It keeps the linebackers occupied for receivers to sneak behind.
The freeze tag champion
Murray is Jeremy Renner’s character in “Tag.” Lamar Jackson and Vick were somewhat similar athletes in the way that they move. They’re silky and flexible and move with enough explosion to make defenders look silly.
Murray moves differently. He’s the NFL version of a Dance Dance Revolution world champion. Watching him move is like trying to track a fly in your office. It’s a “darty” movement.
And not even Russell Wilson can sniff Murray’s ability to avoid taking a hit at all costs.
His short strides and step frequency allow him to change direction in a flash, and his explosion lets him slip through gaps between defenders while gaining ground and avoiding a shot.
I posed this question on Twitter the other day: “Who is the more elusive runner between Kyler Murray and Lamar Jackson?”
Jackson received over 65% of the votes, but I had many people in the comments tell me that was a technicality. See, Jackson might be the more elusive runner, but he can’t elude rushers and create in the passing game the way Murray can.
Despite being able to rotate his shoulders to deliver this ball, Murray is able to outpace multiple defenders toward the sideline and create enough energy to get this pass 44 yards downfield.
It’s challenging to cover receivers for four seconds at a time in the NFL, especially when a cornerback decides to breathe on a wide receiver wrong and gets called for defensive pass interference. Add in Murray’s ability to make almost any throw in the world, and you have a quarterback that’s difficult to defend. Then, a defense has to deal with arguably the best receiver in the NFL in DeAndre Hopkins, plus three solid options behind him.
Yeah, it’s over for defenses.
With great power comes great responsibility
Kyler Murray is the only entity that can effectively stop Kyler Murray. He’s thrown 4 interceptions through three games so far in 2021.
Three of the four happened as Murray attempted to test defenders downfield. The fourth was when he lost Vikings linebacker Nick Vigil in coverage, resulting in a pick-six.
Playmaking quarterbacks will make mistakes. Heck, we saw Mahomes try and make a play late in his game against the Chargers which resulted in an INT.
However, these are different. Three of the four throws weren’t made while testing a window or creating out of structure. If Murray wants to lead his team to an NFC West division title, he must start taking better care of the football. His late-game shenanigans against the Vikings nearly lost the Cardinals the game.
That can’t happen. And it doesn’t have to happen. Murray needs to see third-level leverage better and know which checks his arm can and cannot cash down the field. If he can limit his turnover-worthy plays, he’s a legitimate MVP candidate, and this offense is nearly impossible to stop consistently.