Kyler Murray’s play calling helps him as the Cardinals’ QB

by Eric D. Williams
FOX Sports NFC West writer

Glendale, Ariz. – when Kyler Murray The receiver took over play-calling duties late Sunday night in the third quarter Greg Dortch Knew the ball was going down the field.

“Kyler is very aggressive,” Durtsch said. “He wants a big play every time. I love that. That’s the way he plays. He’s explosive. He’s a playmaker, so of course he’s going to call the plays that show that.”

Moving into a headset on the sideline, Murray brought some juice to the ho-hum, 24-17 preseason loss for the Arizona Cardinals to the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday at State Farm Stadium.

Isaiah probably leads the Cavaliers over the Cardinals

Isaiah probably leads the Cavaliers over the Cardinals

Isaiah was perhaps the standout in the Ravens’ 24-17 win over the Cardinals in Arizona on Sunday. Probably finished with eight receptions, 100 yards and a TD.

According to coach Kliff Kingsbury, playing Murray’s call isn’t a gimmick, it’s just something he has to do so he doesn’t get bored watching the game. Instead, it provides another way for the 25-year-old QB to learn the offense and his role in it.

“He really gets a chance to step back and look at the macro view of it,” Kingsbury said. “Look at what all the safeties go to, where the backs go, looking at the coverage.

“So, the lead on the sidelines, too, talking to Trace [McSorley]: ‘Hey, I’m looking for this.’ It’s a great way for her to stay involved and see it from a different perspective.”

Murray appeared on it when the Cardinals made big plays, fist pumping and fist bumping teammates. Trailing his team 24-3, Murray led the Cardinals on two touchdown-scoring drives, cutting Baltimore’s advantage to seven points late in the game.

“I’m trying to redeem myself from last week,” Murray said on the Fox TV broadcast, referring to his stunt calling plays against the Cincinnati Bengals. “We had two three-and-outs, so I wanted to get the ball in the end zone. That’s my job, hopefully to call some good plays to get our guys to execute and get the ball in the end zone.”

On the final drive, however, Arizona’s offense stalled near midfield, giving the ball back to Baltimore. The Ravens then cruised to the franchise’s NFL-record 22nd preseason win.

“He did a great job,” Kingsbury said. “He was fired. He was more excited than when he threw [a touchdown]. I don’t know what it is, but it was fun to watch. He was talking to those guys and doing a good job of leading them. “

Kingsbury said he uses late game periods to evaluate players without worrying about what plays to call. But he won’t be giving up his day job anytime soon.

“My life would be a lot easier if I didn’t call the plays,” Kingsbury said. “If I can do that, that’s a good gig. But I’m not getting paid to do that.”

The Ravens were down 21 points when Murray took over, so Dertach wasn’t surprised the QB called 21 pass plays and just five running plays.

“I love that,” Dortch said. “I understand we have to run the ball to keep the defense honest, but any time we can throw the ball, I’m all for it.”

It has been an eventful training camp for the franchise quarterback. After signing a $230.5 million extension before the start of camp, a leaked independent study clause in the contract created national headlines. The team later removed the appendix, calling it an unintended deviation.

An outraged Murray enthusiastically defended himself in an impromptu press conference.

Murray also contracted Covid-19, limiting his practice time in camp. And while he won’t see any playing time during the preseason, calling plays will help him improve as a player and keep him busy as the Cardinals push to get ready for an important Week 1 contest at home against the Kansas City Chiefs.

“He’s asking me what I like, talking to me about what he’s seeing, his philosophy and how he’s trying to go out and call it,” backup QB McSorley said when asked about his conversations with Murray. “He’s got a headset on, he’s got a game plan in front of him, and he’s marking stuff. He’s all into it.

“So, it was nice to have him step into that role. I think it was interesting to see him take what he did and didn’t like from last week and be ready to call the game this week.”

And should Murray get credit for the score?

“He called, didn’t he?” McSorley teased. “He’s going to get some credit for that. I went back to the sideline and said, ‘Hey, good call coach.’

Eric D. Williams has reported on the NFL for more than a decade, covering the Los Angeles Rams for Sports Illustrated, the Los Angeles Chargers for ESPN and the Seattle Seahawks for the Tacoma News Tribune. Follow him on Twitter @eric_d_williams.


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