Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray has to step up after a very uneven first four weeks.
After an impressive 2-0 start the season, the Arizona Cardinals have dropped successive games and are 2-2, and second-year quarterback Kyler Murray should take at least some of the blame.
Having lost at home to the Detroit Lions in Week 3, the Cardinals slumped to a shocking 31-14 loss to the Carolina Panthers, with the 2019 first-overall pick outperformed by Teddy Bridgewater despite the absence of Christian McCaffrey.
It is a defeat that should reset expectations for a Cardinals team many were tipping to contend for the NFC West after their hot start, which included in a season-opening win over the San Francisco 49ers.
Additionally, it should raise questions about the play of Murray, whose reputation as one of the most dynamic runners in the NFL is undoubted but whose performances as a thrower of the football have been spotty so far this season.
Murray did toss three touchdowns for the Cardinals, taking his tally for the season to seven to go with four on the ground, but the third of those came late in the fourth quarter of a game in which a Panthers defense that impressed for the second straight week had little problem keeping Arizona’s aerial attack at bay.
Though he completed 24-of-31 passes, Murray finished with only 133 passing yards, averaging only 4.29 yards per attempt. Contrast Murray’s performance to that of Bridgewater, who completed 26-of-37 attempts for 276 yards and two scores, though he did toss an interception.
Murray did not have the support of a strong ground game — Kenyan Drake had just 35 yards on 13 carries — while the offseason concerns about the Cardinals’ defense are proving vindicated.
Despite the lack of assistance Murray has received in those areas, his play over the course of the last two weeks has been anything but above standard, with the below-par showing against Carolina following a three-interception display in the loss to the Lions.
It is worth remembering that this is only Murray’s second year in the league and growing pains are natural. However, if the Cardinals are to realize their potential in 2020, significant improvements are needed from Murray as a thrower.