Home / Sports / The similarities set aside, the Cardinals hope that Kyler Murray will be able to emulate Lamar Jackson

The similarities set aside, the Cardinals hope that Kyler Murray will be able to emulate Lamar Jackson

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TEMPE, Arizona – Bruce Arians is an old NFL leader but a progressive football thinker.

The former Arizona Cardinals head coach noted the Cardinals draft picks' picks, David Johnson, and did not limit the runner's unique skills to his duties.

Looking back, Arians also thought he had already evaluated, a year ago, the 32nd choice of last year, Lamar Jackson.

Ariens said Bickley and Marotta prior to last year's draft, he used the Cardinals' No. 15 pick to pick Jackson, pairing winner Heisman with the double threat to a dynamic race at Johnson.

"I think it can really turn things around," Arians said in April when joining 98.7 FM Arizona Sports Station. "When he shoots the ball and runs, dude, the only guy I saw like that is Michael Vick. This guy breaks the game with his legs. You put it back there with David Johnson and a lot of good things can happen.

"I think it's a very intriguing prospect."

If you buy the Baltimore Ravens quarterback's brief career, the potential rise of current Cardinals rookie Kyler Murray looks just as promising.

In the first game of Jackson's second season in the NFL, the quarterback completed 17 of 20 passes for 324 yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions in a 59-10 win over the Miami Dolphins. He rushed just three times for six yards.

"Not bad for an offensive midfielder," Jackson told reporters afterwards.

An almost perfect performance followed a dead season filled with dichotomous evaluations of Jackson, who threw the ball 170 times as a rookie and ran another 147, making 58% of his passes.

Some analysts considered him a talented but brutal athlete for his job. Others saw beyond the numbers, realized that he was a rookie and believed his smuggler instinct would quickly catch up on his arm talent.

In 2015, Arizona head coach Kliff Kingsbury, then coach of Texas Tech, first surprised Jackson in action during the bowl season. He watched the Music City Bowl with a Texas A & M team that he had previously coached and a Louisville team led by Jackson.

The first-year player eventually passed for 227 yards and rushed for 226 yards rushing, scoring four touchdowns in total.

"He lit it," said Kingsbury. "I was like, it's an absolute monster. In fact, I called my agent and said, "I had your next guy."

Jackson is now facing Kingsbury and Murray in the second week of the NFL season.

Murray is the first choice in 2019 who graduated from high school the same year as Jackson. At the time, he was a potential double-threat player and now faces the same stigma as Heisman's other victorious quarterback with his throws.

Skeptics locked up in the old school thought mobile shifts could not succeed.

Whether you are in the camp or think that Jackson and Murray are comparable athletes, it is true that opponents can help us break these stereotypes.

"I think it's his own player and I'm my own player," Murray said. "I have things to work on. I'm sure he feels like he's working.

"The ability to run definitely changes the game. He's an excellent player. He has good legs, great speed. I think that makes the game interesting.

Murray can only hope to follow in Jackson's footsteps by quickly proving that skeptics are wrong.

The only rookie match in the NFL played so far at least reflects Jackson's career, which is a year older.

Murray took a desperate three-quarter start against the Detroit Lions last Sunday before rallying his team from 18 points. He finished with 308 yards, two touchdowns and 29 out of 54 interceptions.

The rookie rushed three times for 13 yards.

Kingsbury said it was not a unique experience game for a rookie. The head coach really believes that the value of Murray's first outing goes beyond that.

"He has grown a lot when you talk about professional quarterbacks," said Kingsbury. "It's your job. It's going to be difficult sometimes in this league … and you have to keep fighting. In his career, I do not know if he's forced to stay in a match like that and find a way to bring him back when it's bad.

"I mean, he had games where he had to come back, but never when he was dark all the time. I think he's grown a lot. He now understands what it takes to perform at this level and I think it will be better to move forward. "

Bonus points

– The Cardinals will give right-back Justin Murray his second career start in place of Marcus Gilbert, eliminated from the year due to an ACL injury. Murray started Sunday against the Lions just one week after being claimed by Arizona.

– This week's offensive booty, Jordan Mills, will likely add depth to Justin Murray's back, as the Cardinals continue to reflect on their internal options.

– Kingsbury, who is just four years older than Cardinals veterans Larry Fitzgerald and Terrell Suggs: "It gives me the impression of being, in all honesty. Every day to watch them do what they do, it inspires me honestly. If they can go there and put their bodies on it, I can get up early and study a movie.

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