When it comes to the Arizona Cardinals organization, it's not a stretch of the imagination to claim that the LA Rams have been a burr in their saddle. That was certainly the case for the relationships between the Cardinals and former GM Steve Keim and former head coach Kliff Kingsbury. It was the Rams pounding of the Cardinals in the NFC Wild Card Round after the 2021 NFL season that created controversy with the organization.
In a game that was all but lost, Cardinals starting quarterback Kyler Murray refused to return to the field to finish out the game. Cardinals coaches were not pleased that the team's QB would not take the field, setting the stage for discontent and a dysfunctional locker room.
Ultimately, the Cardinals extended Murray, fired both the head coach and the general manager, and moved on. While Kyler Murray won the battle, he may have lost the war. Cardinals new GM Monti Ossenfort and new HC Jonathan Gannon to lead the team in 2023. The thing is, neither has any investment or loyalty to QB Kyler Murray, and could wipe the slate clear in 2024 by parting ways with Murray in the offseason.
Murray has to know that he is playing for his job with the Arizona Cardinals, and in some ways for his NFL career. And he has enough NFL talent to pose a threat to the LA Rams in Week 12.
Why is QB Kyler Murray such a threat?
Kyler Murray is a dangerous dual-threat quarterback, a passer who can win games with his throwing arm as well as rushing. If he takes off on a scramble, he averages 5.8 yards per run over his five-season NFL career. But he has an accurate throwing arm as well, connecting on 66.7 percent of his passes over the same time frame
Because he has so many ways to beat his opponent, he loves to push defenses to the limit. The problems really start to spring up if and when the Cardinals get a lead on the scoreboard. With a wide open playbook, Murray can single handedly move the chains frequently enough to give opposing teams no chance to get their offense back onto the field.
How can the Rams neutralize him in Week 12?
Like any quarterback, victory comes when you limit his options. The Rams need to score first against the Cardinals. If the Rams can take an early lead, the Cardinals will be forced to rely exclusively upon Murray's arm. That is how you beat him.
Murray's accuracy is artificially high because he simply does not push the football down the field. His average yards per pass attempt over his career is just 7.0 YPA. This year, he is pushing the football further downfield, up to 7.5 YPA, but his accuracy has plummeted to 62.9 percent as a result.
Pass rushers know that the first objective when facing Murray is containment. Murray is most dangerous when the defensive front sells out and allows huge running lanes for Murray to use to the Cardinals benefit. LA Rams All-Pro DL Aaron Donald is ideally suited to bring down Murray, oftentimes rushing so quickly that Murray doesn't have a chance to escape.
The Rams are quite familiar with Kyler Murray, and have been relatively effective in shutting him down. The key is not to let the Cardinals offense get hot early in Week 12. Can the Rams subdue Murray long enough in Week 12 to pull off the win? Stay tuned . . .