Advertisement
  1. Sports
  2. /
  3. Bucs

Look out, Bucs. Arizona’s Kyler Murray is playing fast and mistake-free.

Buccaneers-Cardinals: This year’s top overall pick comes to Tampa playing a brand off football that is rare for a rookie.
Arizona rookie quarterback Kyler Murray hasn't thrown an interception in his last five games. He faces the Bucs at 1 p.m. Sunday at Raymond James Stadium. [ROSS D. FRANKLIN | AP]
Published Nov. 8

TAMPA — Kyler Murray is as athletic as they come. Before winning the Heisman Trophy at Oklahoma and becoming the NFL draft’s No. 1 overall pick, he was a five-tool baseball phenom who was drafted eighth overall by Oakland.

In a league where measurables are highly valued, Arizona’s rookie quarterback is listed at just 5-foot-10, but his 4.3-second 40 speed more than makes up for it.

Murray is the latest example of the NFL’s quarterback evolution. Mobility is the new norm.

In Baltimore, the Ravens have molded an offense around Lamar Jackson’s dual-threat ability to build a Super Bowl contender. Before Murray, Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield made his name at Oklahoma with his ability to use his arm and his legs. Murray’s successor with the Sooners, Jalen Hurts, could be the next in line — and potentially be on the draft board for the Bucs next spring.

“It’s going to continue to evolve and go that way in my opinion,” Arizona coach Kliff Kingsbury said. “I’ve always said it you’re the best player on the field in college, there’s a good chance you’re going to be one of the best players in the NFL. You’re seeing some of that I think.

“Lamar is a great example when you build it around a guy and you give him stuff that he’s very comfortable with at a high level and don’t try to pigeon-hole him into a certain offense, you can have great results.”

The Bucs struggled to stop another mobile quarterback last week, allowing five touchdown passes to Russell Wilson in a 40-34 overtime loss at Seattle. Bucs players see Murray as a bigger speed threat in a 1 p.m. game Sunday at Raymond James Stadium.

“He’s faster than Russell Wilson,” Bucs outside linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul said. “I know that for a fact.”

Murray averages 5.6 yards per rushing attempt compared to Wilson’s 4.6. Wilson did most of his damage in the pocket last Sunday, using his feet to buy time for his receivers to get open on quick routes.

What’s been most impressive about Murray is his ability to mistakes and turnovers.

“Obviously, there’s a lot of luck involved in this game, but he’s doing a good job of not putting the ball in harm’s way,” Kingsbury said.

In his first four games, Murray threw four interceptions and was sacked an averaged of five times a game. In five games since, Murray has no interceptions and is being sacked just 1.8 times. He enters Sunday having thrown 172 consecutive passes without an interception, the NFL’s longest current streak. He has 56 straight rushing attempts without a fumble.

He’s also getting the football out quicker, lowering his average time-to-throw to 2.65 seconds, a faster mark than other mobile quarterbacks like Jackson, Wilson and Houston’s Deshaun Watson.

“It’s a very simple system and he’s a very bright kid, and they’re not fumbling the ball,” Bucs coach Bruce Arians said. “[I am] very impressed. He’s a real fast Russell Wilson.”

Not coincidentally, the Cardinals have won three straight against sub-.500 teams, two capped by Murray-led fourth-quarter drives. He played arguably his best game last week, completing 71 percent of his passes and recording a 130.7 passer rating in a 28-25 loss to 8-0 San Francisco.

“I’m just really proud with the way he’s handled everything,” Kingsbury said. “That’s a lot to have thrust upon your shoulders as a young person and on young players in this day and age. and the way he’s handled it and owned up to it when things haven’t gone well, it’s been awesome to see and his teammates have recognized that and its going to pay dividends as we continue to build this thing.”

Contact Eduardo A. Encina at eencina@tampabay.com. Follow @EddieInTheYard.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting (26) is part of a young core of defensive backs the Bucs hope will solve their long-running pass defense problems. MONICA HERNDON  |  Times
    John Romano: Could Sean Murphy-Bunting and the young Bucs finally be the answer?
  2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Vernon III Hargreaves kneels in the end zone after a Nov. 13 loss to the Seattle Seahawks. He was cut by the Bucs and picked up by the Texans. JOHN FROSCHAUER  |  AP
    A day after the Bucs release the former first-round pick, he finds a home.
  3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Ryan Smith, seen here celebrating after breaking up a pass during a preseason game against the Miami Dolphins, was dismayed that fellow cornerback Vernon Hargreaves was released by the Bucs. MONICA HERNDON  |  Times
    The reaction to the release of the former 2016 first-round pick ranged from dismay to acceptance.
  4. Bucs punter Bradley Pinion (8) and his wife, launched their "Punts for Pups" program in partnership with the Hillsborough County Pet Resource Center where they'll sponsor a dog for every punt he kicks within the 20-yard line. MONICA HERNDON  |  Tampa Bay Times
    The Buccaneers punter and his wife will cover the fees of adopting a dog at the shelter every time he drops a punt inside the 20.
  5. Nearly 40 high school teams, including Durant and Sickles, and more than 1,000 girls participated in the Bucs inaugural flag football tournament earlier this year. Now the team has created an academic scholarship fund for girls who play. Buccaneers.com
    The team’s foundation has created a national scholarship fund for girls who play football.
  6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Ronald Jones II (27) enters the field at Raymond James Stadium before the start of the game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday, November 10, 2019, at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa. DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Last week’s game at Raymond James was the lowest-attended Bucs game in the stadium’s history. What’s your take on dwindling attendance?
  7. Vernon Hargreaves was the Bucs' first-round pick in the 2016 NFL draft. On Tuesday, the Bucs released him. ALLIE GOULDING  |  Times
    Rick Stroud: He didn’t hustle and they didn’t want to be hustled
  8. Linebacker Whitney Mercilus (59) and the Houston Texans will play the Bucs at Raymond James Stadium on Saturday, Dec. 21. ERIC CHRISTIAN SMITH  |  AP
    The league previously left the game’s date and time undetermined.
  9. Seahawks receiver Tyler Lockett runs past Bucs cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III in a game earlier this month. Before being released by the team Tuesday, Hargreaves produced one interception, four passes defensed and 39 tackles in nine games. SCOTT EKLUND  |  AP
    With the team releasing Vernon Hargreaves, only one of the seven players selected by Tampa Bay remains on the current roster
  10. Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Vernon III Hargreaves (28) on the field during warmups before the Bucs game against the San Francisco 49ers at Raymond James Stadium on September 8, 2019 in Tampa, FL. DIRK SHADD  |  Times
    Tampa Bay selected the former Florida Gators and Wharton High star with the 11th overall pick in the 2016 NFL draft.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement