Raiders HC Josh McDaniels details unique challenges Cardinals QB Kyler Murray presents

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Despite the Raiders boasting one of the best pass rushing duos in the league, they were unable to get a sack on Justin Herbert in the season opener.

It wasn’t for lack of trying or talent, it’s simply that Herbert possesses a rare combination of elusiveness and arm talent that make it hard to get to him. Which brings us to the next quarterback the Raiders face — Kyler Murray.

The two-time Pro Bowl quarterback is seen by most as being an extremely mobile quarterback. But he’s also an extremely accurate passer, completing nearly 70% of his passes last season. So, to view him solely through the lens of his athletic abilities would be a mistake. One Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels is not going to make as he prepares to face him this week.

“Every play is an opportunity for something bad to happen when Kyler is on the other side,” McDaniels said. “This guy is a special, special player. There’s not many players in the league that are like him and certainly not many that I’ve coached against. First of all, the number one thing I’d say about him is he’s a really, really good passer. He can read the defense, he can get the ball to all levels of the field, he can make every throw, he’s very accurate.”

For perspective, all you need do is compare his numbers last season to that of Derek Carr — widely considered a pocket passer with a big arm. Murray had a higher completion percentage (69.3) than Carr (68.4), more touchdown passes (24) than Carr (23), and fewer interceptions (10) than Carr (14).

So, you can see why McDaniels mentions Murray’s passing first and foremost. Because it’s a problem. But it’s only part of the problems that Murray presents to a defense.

“That on it’s own is a tough challenge, then you combine that with his ability either to run the ball on zone runs, or RPO’s or zone reads and every pass play could potentially be a loose play,” McDaniels continued. “You can’t take plays off and you can’t relax. Because if you do, generally he makes you pay for it.”

While Carr may have had more passing yards per game (282.6) in 2021 than Murray (270.5), Murray also added 30.2 yards per game on the ground, bringing his yards per game from scrimmage (300.7) well over Carr’s (288.9). And Murray added five touchdowns on the ground to bring his total touchdowns to 29.

So, how do the Raiders stop him? The task is simple, but it’s not an easy one.

“I think the pass rush and the pass coverage needs to be very complimentary, this week in particular,” McDaniels spoke of facing Murray. “You need to do a really good job in both because if you’re undisciplined with the rush, it will be a problem, and if you give him opportunities to get the ball out of his hands quickly, then the rush will never have a chance.

“This player is a very unique challenge for everybody. You put any game on and the pass rush is different against this player than it is against most other quarterbacks and that’s because he deserves that kind of recognition and attention, so they’re going to need to be disciplined, coverage is going to be what it needs to be on a given play based on what we choose to do. And work together the entire time, every time they throw the ball, no doubt.”

Story originally appeared on Raiders Wire