There will be plenty of “Welcome to the NFL” moments for Arizona Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury and quarterback Kyler Murray this season.
That applies to everything, including how Murray gets the ball snapped to him.
We have seen plenty of college teams adapt a hand-clap cadence. The quarterback claps his hands, the ball is snapped, the play starts. Easy.
But on Thursday night, that was a problem for the officiating crew doing the Cardinals’ preseason game against the Oakland Raiders.
Kyler Murray penalized twice for abrupt clapping
Murray was called for two false starts for clapping his hands before the play. It’s incredibly rare to see a quarterback get called for a false start in an NFL game.
Murray said he was told by officials his hand-clapping to trigger the snap was too abrupt. Offensive players in the NFL can’t make abrupt movements to draw the defense offsides, or it’s a false-start penalty.
“To me, it’s like any other hard count,” Murray said, according to the team’s site. “It’s the defense’s job to watch the ball. So it really doesn’t make sense to me, but we’re trying to fix things out right now.”
Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic pointed out that it seems each crew is interpreting the hand-clap cadence differently, because the first two crews that saw it — once when a crew visited training camp and again in the preseason opener — didn’t call it.
NFL is going to leave it up to each officiating crew to determine if QB clap w/out ball being snapped is a false start. Cardinals might have to re-think their cadence. Kyler Murray called twice on it last night.— Kent Somers (@kentsomers) August 16, 2019
We’ve already seen discrepancy in how rule is interpreted. Ref John Hussey was good with it when he visited camp. Shawn Hochuli was good with it last week. Last night, Carl Chaffers was not.— Kent Somers (@kentsomers) August 16, 2019
Like there’s not enough for Kingsbury and Murray to worry about already.
Cardinals offense struggled badly
Kingsbury said he thinks the team will be able to keep the clap snap, which they’ve used through camp.
“It’s the first time for certain officials to see it,” Kingsbury said. “We’ve been in contact with the league and have had great conversations on it. We’re going to work through that and make sure everybody is on the same page. We want to be on the same page with them, and make sure we’re doing things that they deem legal.”
There’s also the issue of whether the clapping cadence is going to work in the NFL. The Raiders blitzed plenty on Thursday night and multiple times their pass rush was on top of Murray right after snap. They timed the snap very well. That’s a reason Murray and the Cardinals’ starting offense had just 12 yards on four possessions. Arizona trailed 26-0 when Murray’s night ended.
Preseason is a time to work things out. Hopefully by Week 1, the Cardinals will know what’s legal for them when it comes to snapping the ball.
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