What Kyler Murray does on the field Sunday is important on several levels for the Cardinals. But the way the quarterback operates off the field, in the locker room, well, that’s also in the spotlight.
Tackle DJ Humphries has spoken about it before, spending a lot of off-season time with Murray at the Dignity Health Training Center while they were both rehabbing. The reality is that Murray, in his previous offseasons, stayed away from Arizona as much as he could.
“When you play football for a long time and you’re surrounded by a bunch of different quarterbacks, you feel like they’re these mystical, mythical creatures that you only see when it’s time to throw the ball and it’s is like, ‘Dude, you did it.’ “Did you see him throw that touchdown the other day? It was crazy,” Humphries said. “But you don’t really see the work. You don’t see what training is like. Like he’s drinking Mai Tais on the beach, throwing footballs, that’s the idea.
“But being in the building, watching him work, doing legs day in and day out, seeing him do the physical work, seeing him in the locker room, tired knowing he had another workout to do, just seeing that, It was great.”
The idea was raised with Murray, who acknowledged that working closely with a teammate like Humphries was bound to have an impact.
“You play harder for a guy you know and like,” Murray said. “Obviously you want to play hard in general, but it’s different when you have your brother next to you and you know what he went through and you all went through it together. I think it was beneficial. I did it. I haven’t been as involved in the offseason program…but being here every day and doing the same thing over and over and participating in it, I saw what (Hump) had to go through also, so it definitely creates a different type of bond.”
Murray AI’s entire journey (after injury) will be one to watch. But he noted that “you find out very quickly who you are and what you do” after experiencing what he did. Seeing how this may have changed him in several areas will be part of the story.
– What the offensive line will look like in front of Kyler is TBD. DJ Humphries missed the entire week with an ankle injury, so it’s likely Kelvin Beachum will start at left tackle. Right guard Will Hernandez was limited but at least doing something about his banged up knee, so if he can get into the lineup that can only help.
“You have to adapt to whoever comes in, but I have full confidence in the guys that are going to go,” center Hjalte Froholdt said. “We have a good room with a group of guys that are ready to step up. You just have to learn how to play with them a little bit, because we’re a unit and we bounce off each other in a way.”
— No matter who is on the offensive line, the unit has to be better than it was in Cleveland. Rookie quarterback Clayton Tune struggled, but the line itself also had its worst collective game of the season.
“It’s a tough game to watch because we didn’t have a lot of success and it happened across the entire offensive line,” Froholdt said. “I know I’ve had my share of mistakes. But we have to move on to the Falcons. You don’t want to dwell on it too much and put it off until next week, but at the same time, you can’t just to overcome it. You must learn from it.
— Uniform Update: The Cardinals are at home, so it will be red on red for the Salute to Service game.
— The Falcons will have a third straight game in which the opposing quarterback will make his first start of the season. Three weeks ago, it was the Titans and Will Levis. Last week it was the Vikings and Jaren Hall, before Hall was injured and the Falcons nabbed Josh Dobbs. Now it’s Murray.
– The last time the Falcons won in Arizona was at Sun Devil Stadium. It was 2001, the Cardinals’ second game after 9/11. The game temperature was 104 degrees and Falcons rookie kicker Jay Feely made two field goals.
— The Falcons are averaging just 18.4 points per game this season (although they scored 28 in their loss to the Vikings last week.) Yet they’ve found a way to make plays important, which perhaps isn’t a surprise with an offense featuring wideout Drake London, tight end Kyle Pitts and running back Bijan Robinson. Since Week 5, the Falcons have totaled 75 plays of at least 10 yards, the best mark in the league. They are tied for plays going at least 20 yards, with 21.
— It got lost in the quagmire of the Cardinals’ overall offensive work last week, but the fact that Tune and Rondale Moore lost a 25-yard pass — what would have been the Cardinals’ best play of the day — due from a miserable The offensive pass interference call on Hollywood Brown was just bad.
“When he called and said it was on me, I told him, ‘I didn’t hit anybody,'” Brown said. “He looked at me and said, ‘Pass interference to No. 2.’ JG preaches that you can’t control what you can’t control. I didn’t dwell on that, I was like, ‘OK, that’s what they called it, keep playing.’ It’s a shame it didn’t go our way.”
– Brown has caught a TD pass in each of the Cardinals’ previous four home games this season. I like his chances at #5 with his best friend at QB.
— The last word comes from – shock! – Kyler Murray, who spoke this week for the first time since late July. Murray was asked how he sees the Cardinals culture evolving under general manager Monti Ossenfort and coach Jonathan Gannon.
“I’ve seen a lot of people – Budda (Baker) and DJ and all the quotes about how it was night and day. Doing 180 shifts and stuff like that. I would agree,” Murray said. “JG and Monti just came in, I think it comes down to responsibility and everyone doing their job. Everyone is doing their job, everyone is holding each other accountable and setting that standard. If you break that standard , so that’s how it is.
“You have to deal with all the consequences, whether it’s me or JG or whoever, and if we hold each other to that standard, that’s how you build a culture. You bring in the right guys who are confident and willing to do anything for the guy next to him. I think we’re going in the right direction.