Kyler Murray stock has had a green arrow next to it for several months in a row. His ascension to a Heisman Trophy and first overall pick in the NFL Draft was steady, then furious, then just a reality. Now teamed up with perceived quarterback whisperer Kliff Klingsbury in Arizona, many believed he’d simply waltz into the world’s toughest league fully acclimated and effortlessly productive.
Those people looked smart after the Cardinals’ preseason opener. Murray went 6-for-7 for 44 yards in his debut and looked smooth and steady. Exhibition Game 2 was another story. The rookie managed only 3-for-8 passing and a paltry 12 yards Thursday night against the Oakland Raiders.
More concerning, and frankly halting, were the two false start penalties the quarterback was flagged for due to some collegiate-level clapping.
These infractions were enforced despite the best efforts of Kingsbury, who tried to give the officials a primer before the game. Murray was told that he was “too abrupt” in his clap and “not smooth enough as far as bringing my hands together.”
“To me, it’s like any other hard count,” he said. “It’s the defense’s job to watch the ball, so it really doesn’t make sense to me. I think we’re trying to fix things right now.”
The pre-snap clap is routine behavior for Murray, the same as it is for any number of quarterbacks who use it liberally in college. All of them have learned to do it in a legal manner, so there’s no reason to think it will be a lingering issue. Still, it’s indicative of all the growth a first-year signal-caller has to make — much of which doesn’t immediately spring to mind.
It’s been a long time since this guy has looked mortal, or the governor on his speed boat to greatness kicked in amid choppy seas. One could argue this is a good thing for Murray and all those in the desert who have been looking for a savior. There’s nothing inherently wrong with self-correction. It helps set reasonable expectations.