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NFL Films/ESPN legend — and one of the best talent evaluators in the business — Greg Cosell has gone through a metric ton of 2021 tape to provide insights on some interesting players headed into the 2022 NFL season. Here, he brings you his raw notes and observations from those tape sessions.
It’s a chance to get inside the mind of one of the greats of the industry.
Today’s study is a recently extended player who has been in the news all off-season, Cardinals QB Kyler Murray. Greg looked at all of Murray’s third-down dropbacks and first-down explosive plays to get a picture of the player.
KYLER MURRAY 3RD DOWN DROP BACKS
Second-reaction playmaking both with his arm and his legs is a foundational part of Murray’s game. He showed excellent vision outside the pocket on the move.
One thing that consistently stood out was Murray was almost always off-balance when he delivered the ball. That is the way he delivers the ball and that could well be a function of his height and how he has to throw the ball.
Murray made some outstanding intermediate and vertical throws off-balance and falling away. He has been doing that his whole life given his lack of size.
10 and 11 personnel were the predominant 3rd down personnel packages for the Cards. They played both in almost equal amounts.
Over the first four games of the season, the Cards featured a good percentage of empty sets out of both 10 and 11 personnel.
It is very difficult for Murray to be a late-in-the-down pocket QB because of his lack of stature. He cannot sit in contested pockets and go through progressions given the visual obstruction of bodies around him, which forces him to leave and become a playmaker.
It was very evident on third down that opposing defenses accounted for Murray as a scrambler. I saw a lot of spy concepts that defenses got to in multiple ways.
One thing that consistently stood out was Murray had a strong tendency to retreat in the pocket to create more space between himself and the OL/pass rush to clear his view.
What consistently stood out was Murray loved to throw to DeAndre Hopkins when Hopkins was the boundary X versus man coverage.
1ST DOWN PLAYS OF 10+ YARDS
The Rondale Moore tunnel screen game was featured on 1st down — get Moore the ball in space with room and blockers out in front.
Overall, the screen game in general was a featured part of the Cards 1st-down passing game, both conventional screens to backs and TEs and tunnel and flare screens to the outside, predominantly to Moore.
The highest percentage of Murray drop backs on 1st down came out of 11 personnel (60%). It was almost all shotgun with very few exceptions. The Cards also featured snaps of 10 personnel on 1st down.
Murray has excellent second-reaction playmaking ability to defeat pressure. He has the sudden movement to beat quick pressure and unblocked pass rushers.
What consistently stood out was that Murray is simply a strong and gifted thrower. The ball came out with natural velocity and he was precise with his ball placement.
The Cardinals featured quick-game throws off run action to the 2-man boundary side, with slant routes and snag routes by the boundary X. RPO concepts were featured as part of quick game concepts.
Murray is a dangerous weapon in the designed run game on 1st down, with zone read the featured concept.
Play action was not a featured part of the Cards’ 1st-down passing game relative to the rest of the NFL. Murray was efficient off play action, but it was not a foundational part of the offense.