Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray needed 10 yards to pick up a first down early in last Sunday’s game against the Tennessee Titans. The ridiculousness that followed was an early candidate for play of the year.
After taking the shotgun snap, Murray immediately felt pressure off the edge. He used his blazing speed to try to break contain only to run out of room near the right hash marks. In an instant, he stuck his foot in the ground, then sprinted full speed toward the left hash marks. He outran a couple of defenders along the way before being stopped in his tracks by Titans linebacker Harold Landry III.
Almost every quarterback in NFL history would have taken a sack at that point. Not Murray. He hit a couple of nasty juke moves reset his feet on the fly and fired a dart to rookie receiver Rondale Moore for an 18-yard completion and a first down.
You had better believe Vikings co-defensive coordinator Andre Patterson has gone over that play as he prepares his players to stop Murray this weekend. Or at least try to stop him.
“To me, watching the tape, he looks like a video game,” Patterson said. “You know, he’s not real tall, and he doesn’t have long legs, and his feet are moving so fast, he looks like somebody hit the button. He just looks like a different speed than everybody else. To me, that’s the element that makes him different.”
While coach Mike Zimmer is careful not to heap too much praise on Murray, he admitted that the Vikings are going to have their hands full trying to stop him. Especially when he breaks contain and starts to freelance outside of the pocket.
“I can say that we’re going to keep him in the pocket all day,” Zimmer said, “but I don’t think that’s truly going to happen.”
“There’s some unorthodox things that he does,” Zimmer added. “He might have a rollout to the left and he will take off and run right. (He) just a feel he has for the game.”
In a lot of ways, Murray is the antithesis of Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins. Murray can extend the play for an upward of 15 seconds as he proved last weekend. Cousins immediately covers up the ball when he feels an iota of pressure.
“He’s a great player,” Cousins said. “The play is never over as long as he’s still got the ball in his hands and he’s upright. He’s shown that going back to his college days. It’s just continued in the pros.”
The only problem with Murray’s ability to keep the play alive is he tends to be a little loose with the ball in those situations. Is that something the Vikings can take advantage of this weekend?
“It’s a possibility,” Zimmer said. “We have to hope that we can get some turnovers.”
If the Vikings are able to do that, they have a chance this weekend. If they aren’t, it could be a long day for the whole team.
“There’s nobody I can compare him to,” Patterson said. “He’s a different animal. Not only is he quick, he is unbelievably fast — and he knows it. The best thing we can do is try to do a great job of containing our edges to try to keep him trapped in the pocket.”
That’s easier said than done.