The Eagles will be facing arguably the most exciting quarterback in the NFL in the Arizona Cardinals’ Kyler Murray this Sunday at 4:25 p.m. ET. They’re also facing the NFL’s most unpredictable quarterback.
Murray is 16th in the NFL in passing, with 991 yards passing, completing 113 of 173 for 65.3%. Murray is also No. 31 of 32 NFL quarterbacks in terms of average yards per completion, averaging 5.7 yards a reception, almost four yards behind the NFL leader in yards per reception, Jalen Hurts, whose completions average an NFL-best 9.1 yards.
Still, Murray is someone who improvises better than anyone playing quarterback in the NFL today. Some call it playground football, though every defense he plays against knows how dangerous he can be.
When asked this week how he will prepare for someone who runs so much “off-script” as Murray, Eagles’ defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon said, “Yeah, I mean, all the coaching details that go into that with off-schedule plays, we’ve got to be on it and understand that those are going to come up in the game and what he likes to do when he tries to make off-schedule plays, and he can make them.
“He has a very unique skillset. He’s very dangerous. He’s got arm talent. He runs around. He’s not like a stick-and-cut guy, he’s one of these guys. He’s not afraid to give ground and lose 20 yards from the line of scrimmage and runs around and finds open people. It’s hard to cover for a long time that long.
“So, we’ve got to have a good plan and we’ve got to execute it and we’ve got to stay disciplined. Our eyes got to be right. We’ve got to rush as a unit. We’ve got to cover as a unit. It’s going to take all 11 out there to slow this guy down.”
The Eagles lead the NFL in plus-minus turnover difference, at plus-8 (10 caused turnovers/against two interceptions). Arizona and Murray are fourth (at plus-4, with six takeaways/against two interceptions). For all of his improvising, Murray so far this season is not a turnover machine.
With No. 1 receiver DeAndre Hopkins out due to a suspension, Murray has still managed to rush for 91 yards and two touchdowns, while throwing five TD passes against two interceptions.
In Arizona’s comeback victory over Las Vegas in Week 2, after trailing 20-0 at one point in the first half, Murray completed 25 of 40 for 224 yards and a touchdown, while also rushing for 28 yards and a touchdown in the second half. He became the first player in NFL history with a passing TD, a rushing TD, a two-point conversion pass and a two-point conversion run in a game.
Murray is still dangerous.
Joseph Santoliquito is an award-winning sportswriter based in the Philadelphia area who has written features for SI.com, ESPN.com, NFL.com, MLB.com, Deadspin and The Philadelphia Daily News. In 2006, he was nominated for an Emmy Award for a special project piece for ESPN.com called “Love at First Beep.” He is most noted for his award-winning ESPN.com feature on high school wrestler A.J. Detwiler in February 2006, and his breaking story on Carson Wentz for PhillyVoice on January 21, 2019. In 2015, he was elected president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.