The Cardinals didn’t lose Monday’s wild-card recreation to the Rams as a result of Kyler Murray threw a pick-six whereas backed up in his personal finish zone within the second quarter, which put Los Angeles up three touchdowns with eight minutes remaining till halftime.
Nonetheless, it’s doable that the play was emblematic of why the Cardinals have been picked aside by the Rams, and why the group misplaced 5 of its remaining six video games to utterly bitter a ten–2 begin that had them on a Tremendous Bowl trajectory. It’s doable that the play can inform us slightly bit about the whole lot, from their depth points to their preparedness to the sort of delicate breadcrumbs they’ve left on movie all 12 months.
Let’s take the scene from the highest. As Murray is backing up from the road of scrimmage into his shotgun depth, the Rams’ protection is actively speaking. Aaron Donald says one thing to Greg Gaines. Linebacker Troy Reeder says one thing to Von Miller, getting a sort of delicate thumbs up. Donald then motions to Leonard Floyd. It’s clear they noticed one thing acquainted. It’s additionally clear they noticed Chase Edmonds within the backfield, who’s the lesser of the 2 Cardinals’ blocking backs (whereas not good, Professional Soccer Focus ranks James Conner because the greatest go safety operating again within the NFL, whereas Edmonds is towards the underside third of the league).
Whereas this might have been normal communication between gamers who’re nonetheless getting to know each other, the precision with which they isolate, idiot and choose aside the Cardinals’ offensive line within the ensuing seconds suggests in any other case.
The Cardinals are operating a sort of normal multi-level play out of Kliff Kingsbury’s Air Raid playbook. Rondale Moore, the slot receiver, goes to act because the checkdown-type receiver and run a delayed, shallow route towards the sideline in an effort to preserve Floyd from crashing the backfield. The 2 receivers to Moore’s proper will each run deeper ideas.
It instantly turns into clear on the snap that Murray sees nothing from the deeper routes however continues to maintain his gaze downfield. This has been considerably of a difficulty for Murray regardless of his comparatively speedy common snap to throw time. Final 12 months, a professor at Kutztown College put collectively a matrix of quarterbacks who created essentially the most stress for themselves. Murray was among the most significant offenders. He additionally appears to dislike checkdown passes in sure conditions and is middle-of-the-road in phrases of brief to medium vary passing, regardless of its apparent advantages (Justin Herbert, Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers, for instance, appear to maintain the checkdown and checkdown-related passes sacrosanct).
So, a convergence of two separate occasions occurs.
Up entrance, the Cardinals’ offensive line will get utterly flummoxed. Donald fees on the proper facet of Arizona’s entrance after which backpedals into a sort of zone protection stance. The hesitation precipitated two of the six individuals tasked with defending Murray to mainly freeze and take themselves out of the play. Gaines comes from the precise facet of the road and smashes his means beneath Donald and works his means towards these two frozen Cardinals defenders. At one level, if you happen to freeze the play rapidly sufficient, he’s impacting 4 of the six Cardinals blockers on the play directly. One particular person, 4 offensive linemen. Donald then forces Cardinals guard Justin Pugh to mainly play preventative, basketball-style protection guaranteeing that he gained’t cost again into the backfield. In the meantime, Miller has a one-on-one matchup with the left deal with—once more, on the purpose line—and Reeder has a one-on-one matchup in opposition to Edmonds, who throws an ineffective cut-type block that acts as slightly greater than a pace bump Reeder will get via and applies stress to Murray.
The Cardinals’ condensed playbook lends itself to sure predictable route ideas, which gave a decimated Rams secondary an opportunity to lock on and stick to the deep receivers and drive Murray to hold within the pocket. Murray’s aversion to taking the checkdown throw because it developed—one thing I’ve heard offensive coordinators evangelize for younger quarterbacks, and, in pointing them towards Tom Brady’s penchant for fast checkdowns, handle to convert most of them—retains him within the pocket even longer. There are a number of cases of him passing up open checkdowns over the past Cardinals-Rams matchup as properly. Murray had one of the longer snap to throw instances within the NFL that week throughout his last common season matchup with the Rams. Within the first half of Monday’s recreation, Murray’s snap-to-throw time was nearly a full second over his season common, and clearly a profession worst mark.
The result’s a panicked, last-minute try at salvaging the checkdown to Moore, which is clearly picked off and returned for a landing.
It was a second that doesn’t take away for one second how spectacular of a participant Murray is, and the way he would have been an MVP frontrunner this 12 months had it not been for an damage. It doesn’t take away from the truth that Arizona has a powerful assortment of ability place gamers and that, when DeAndre Hopkins is wholesome, they pose a critical menace having mastered the condensed playbook. It doesn’t make their general offensive idea a foul one, only a weak one which raises essential questions.
If the short throw is so important to the Air Raid, why hasn’t Kingsbury cemented it into Murray’s mind that Moore, in open house, at a harmful half of the sector, ought to get the ball the second he flashes? Why isn’t Murray being given myriad fast throw choices in opposition to a group that appears to give him a lot bother in that division? And, how did the offensive line wrestle so badly in opposition to what seemed like simulated stress? How did a protection with basically no secondary exterior of Jalen Ramsey drive a possible MVP candidate quarterback to play proper into their fingers?
We all know the quarterback is not going wherever. We do not know who’s stepping up to reply for these questions.
Extra NFL Protection:
• Jerry Jones Has Choices to Make About His Teaching Workers
• Jimmy Garoppolo Simply Might Be the Greatest Quarterback Out there This Offseason
• Analyzing Kellen Moore and Mike McCarthy’s Controversial Quarterback Draw
• Wild-Card Takeaways: Overwhelming Rams, Cardinals Collapse Now Full