from Eric D. Williams
FOX Sports NFC West Writer
GLENDALE, Ariz. – When Kyler Murray took over play-calling duties late in the third quarter Sunday night, receiver Greg Dortch knew the ball was going down the field.
“Kyler is very aggressive,” Dortch said. “He wants the big play every time. I love that. That’s how he plays. He’s explosive. He’s a playmaker, so of course he’s going to call plays that show that.”
Murray sliding into the headset on the sideline added some juice to a 24-17 preseason loss for the Arizona Cardinals to the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday at State Farm Stadium.
Isaiah Will likely lead the Ravens over the Cardinals
Isaiah Likely was outstanding in the Ravens’ 24-17 win over the Cardinals on Sunday in Arizona. Likely finished with eight receptions, 100 yards and a TD.
According to coach Kliff Kingsbury, playing Murray isn’t a gimmick, 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 gets a chance to really step back and see the macro picture of it,” Kingsbury said. “Seeing what goes to the defense, knowing where the back goes, seeing the coverage.
“Then also the leadership on the sidelines, talking to Trace [McSorley]: ‘Hey, that’s what I’m looking for.’ It’s just a good way for him to stay involved and see it from a different perspective.”
Murray appeared in it, fist-pumping and bumping into teammates when the Cardinals made big plays. Taking over with his team down 24-3, Murray led the Cardinals in two scoring drives, cutting Baltimore’s lead to seven points late in the game.
“I’m going to try to redeem myself from last week,” Murray said on the FOX TV broadcast, referring to his attitude in the games against the Cincinnati Bengals. “We had two three-and-outs, so I want to get the ball in the end zone. That’s my job, to hopefully make some good plays for our guys to execute and get the ball in the end zone The last.”
However, on the final play, Arizona’s offense stalled near midfield, giving Baltimore the ball back. The Ravens then put the game away for an NFL-record 22nd straight preseason win.
“He did a good job,” Kingsbury said. “He was fired up. He was a lot more excited than he gets when he’s shooting [a touchdown]. I don’t know what it’s about, but it was fun to watch. He was talking to those guys and doing a good job leading them.”
Kingsbury said he used the time late in the game to evaluate players without having to worry about what play he was going 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 plays,” Kingsbury said. “That’s a good gig if I could do it. But I wouldn’t get paid to do it.”
The Ravens were down 21 points when Murray took over, so Dortch wasn’t surprised the QB called 21 passing plays and just five running plays.
“I like 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’s been an eventful training camp for the franchise quarterback. After inking a $230.5 million extension just before the start of camp, an independent study clause revealed in the contract made national headlines. The team later removed the addition, calling it an unintended distraction.
An outraged Murray defended himself passionately in an impromptu press conference.
Murray also contracted COVID-19, limiting his practice time during camp. And while he likely won’t see any playing time during the preseason, the play-calling helps him improve as a player and stay engaged as the Cardinals push to prepare for an important Week 1 matchup at home against the Kansas City Chiefs.
“He’s asking me what I like, he’s 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 interaction with Murray . “He’s got the headset, he’s got the game plan in front of him and he was writing things down. He was all into it.
“So it was good to see 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 get ready to call this week’s game.”
And should Murray take credit for the results?
“He called her, didn’t he?” mocked McSorley. “He’s going to get some credit for that. I went back on the field 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 at @eric_d_williams.
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