Sometimes You Can Learn More by Watching Than Playing

Harry

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As a guy who came back from an ACL I can tell you the psychological barriers alone seem overwhelming when rehab begins. The surgery and the recovery techniques are light years beyond my era, but people are still the same. Through the years I’ve watched dozens of players return from this injury. Murray looked smoother and more aggressive than the typical returning player. His performance on solely a recovery basis was elite. He’s not at the top of his game, but he’s far closer than I had anticipated. More importantly, however, this did not appear to be the “old” Kyler Murray.

I’ve see it before. Pitchers, who come back from TJ surgery, can actually throw harder. However, many change their entire approach to attacking hitters. By observing others, they often are better at setting up hitters. They cease to focus on powering by them. I’ve seen running back, who used to try running over defenders, learn to avoid some of the contact. I’ve seen linemen, who felt braces restricted their motion, begin to willingly accept support devices. Serious injury changes a player, often permanently, especially if it’s their first major injury. This did not look like the same old Murray. Injuries gives you time to contemplate you entire approach.

I briefly took a shot at Kingsbury in my post about Murray yesterday. In retrospect, while he admired Murray, I think he was the worst possible coach for Murray to have when transitioning to the NFL. IMO, Kingsbury led Murray to believe the NFL would just be an extension of Murray’s college career. It rarely is. This caused Murray to resist changes to his style. The problem is that in the NFL there are plenty of smart coaches and great athletes. They adjust to the incoming player’s skillset. That player must, in turn, adjust to the opponent’s adjusrments. I believe Murray made too few adjustments. He became frustrated when he was no longer dominant. It was like quicksand; the more he struggled, the deeper he sank.

Yesterday’s Murray was different. The biggest concern is are these changes permanent or under pressure, will he revert to his old style? Here’s what I saw. Murray was fluid under center. Both his rollouts and his drops looked smooth. I posted I thought he rushed his setup on the interception. Apparently in post game interviews Murray said he and McBride weren’t on the same page and he thought McBride would set down in the zone void. I’ve watched it again and I still think his rhythm was slightly off. If he’d have taken a beat before he threw, I don’t think there would have been an interception. Time should resolve that issue. Muscle memory takes time. Others commented on his previous time under center. However, he was rarely, if ever, going from under center to fading back, setting up and throwing. This Murray seemed more patient. He hung in the pocket better and a weak line caused him to be hit a couple of times, but I saw no panicked throws. He was able to escape some collapsing pockets, though he was helped by reckless, undisciplined rushers. Murray’s agility was outstanding.

I saw some comments on overthrows; especially Brown in the end zone. I’m amazed the throw was that close. Often touch is the last thing to come back. Consider also the possibility he was fighting an adrenaline surge and I thought his accuracy was about as good as could be expected. The under-throw that McBride made the great catch on may well have been fatigue. No matter how hard you work to get in shape, game shape is different. It takes time. Between the adrenaline and that 70 yard run, it’s surprising Murray could do even that well.

Speaking of running. Murray’s agility and acceleration were as good as any in the league. He is still an elite athlete. He benefitted from undisciplined rushers, but in fairness they likely didn’t prep for this elusive a version of Murray. I didn’t expect it. Again his runs were likely restricted, but the scoring run was a thing of beauty. Not sure if that was an option play, but if so he rightly bet on himself. His self confidence seemed fully intact.

The new offense should suit Murray. It’s a more balanced, less predictable strategy. He’s actually able to use more of his athleticism in this offense, than Kingsbury’s stand and throw. The nice thing is they can still run shotgun plays, but now they can do so much more.

The other major difference was when Murray was off the field. He was often being given coaching data as to what they were seeing from the defense. In another view he was with his receivers presumably discussing strategy. This was an engaged Murray, not the old, isolated version. This looked like leadership. This indicated maturity and quality coaching. Detachment no longer was the format. I can’t stress enough how critical I think this is to team spirit. How much more readily I think this facilitates players wanting to win for Murray. Forget all that professionalism stuff. This is a game of emotions. If players feel they are in this together, the team will function stronger as a unit.

Everything isn’t coming up roses yet. First, there’s more to learn. On 2 consecutive plays, Murray had pass attempts tipped. First the O-line can help by making it tougher on engaged rushers to simply reach up. Next Murray needs to shift in the pocket to open throwing lanes. I know a better pocket would help. Nonetheless he needs to watch film on Brees and Wilson; then master their techniques. For maybe the first time I’ve definitively seen it, the Cards completed a hot read pass against a blitz. On this occasion the Falcons disguised the blitz so poorly that Murray actually called an audible to the pass. If they can integrate that ability to identify blitzes and use them against opponents that would be huge.

Then there is the issue of weapons. Another quality receiver would help. Two will be needed if they pass on Brown. A breakaway running back addition could be significant. A second TE would be nice, though most teams manage with one. The O-line needs work. I haven’t even mentioned the defense. This is a weak roster that couldn’t get to the playoffs with any QB. They can’t fix everything next year, but maybe they can fix enough to be playoff bound. Of course this is an issue for later elaboration.

Finally what’s left to examine is permanence and only time will answer that. Will he stay composed? Will he stay disciplined? Will he continue to hone his leadership skills? Will he become the franchise QB a true Super Bowl contender needs? Make no mistake. This was a big step forward. There may be some backsliding against better teams, but hope springs eternal. I’m excited.
 

Totally_Red

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As others including you have said, we can't fully evaluate Kyler until the talent is significantly improved. But yesterday was encouraging. The Texans will be a bigger challenge.
 

cardcrazy

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The under-throw that McBride made the great catch on may well have been fatigue.
Great thoughts Harry!
The under throw to McBride was probably a blessing in disguise because I believe McBride would’ve scored a TD too early, leaving a minute and 2 timeouts on the clock for Atlanta to comeback.
 

DeAnna

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I think he benefitted just from watching Josh Dobbs hang in the pocket to deliver the ball.

I hear a clip of him say "that playing scared didn't look good on film" which is what a coach probably said to him.
 

lobo

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As a guy who came back from an ACL I can tell you the psychological barriers alone seem overwhelming when rehab begins. The surgery and the recovery techniques are light years beyond my era, but people are still the same. Through the years I’ve watched dozens of players return from this injury. Murray looked smoother and more aggressive than the typical returning player. His performance on solely a recovery basis was elite. He’s not at the top of his game, but he’s far closer than I had anticipated. More importantly, however, this did not appear to be the “old” Kyler Murray.

I’ve see it before. Pitchers, who come back from TJ surgery, can actually throw harder. However, many change their entire approach to attacking hitters. By observing others, they often are better at setting up hitters. They cease to focus on powering by them. I’ve seen running back, who used to try running over defenders, learn to avoid some of the contact. I’ve seen linemen, who felt braces restricted their motion, begin to willingly accept support devices. Serious injury changes a player, often permanently, especially if it’s their first major injury. This did not look like the same old Murray. Injuries gives you time to contemplate you entire approach.

I briefly took a shot at Kingsbury in my post about Murray yesterday. In retrospect, while he admired Murray, I think he was the worst possible coach for Murray to have when transitioning to the NFL. IMO, Kingsbury led Murray to believe the NFL would just be an extension of Murray’s college career. It rarely is. This caused Murray to resist changes to his style. The problem is that in the NFL there are plenty of smart coaches and great athletes. They adjust to the incoming player’s skillset. That player must, in turn, adjust to the opponent’s adjusrments. I believe Murray made too few adjustments. He became frustrated when he was no longer dominant. It was like quicksand; the more he struggled, the deeper he sank.

Yesterday’s Murray was different. The biggest concern is are these changes permanent or under pressure, will he revert to his old style? Here’s what I saw. Murray was fluid under center. Both his rollouts and his drops looked smooth. I posted I thought he rushed his setup on the interception. Apparently in post game interviews Murray said he and McBride weren’t on the same page and he thought McBride would set down in the zone void. I’ve watched it again and I still think his rhythm was slightly off. If he’d have taken a beat before he threw, I don’t think there would have been an interception. Time should resolve that issue. Muscle memory takes time. Others commented on his previous time under center. However, he was rarely, if ever, going from under center to fading back, setting up and throwing. This Murray seemed more patient. He hung in the pocket better and a weak line caused him to be hit a couple of times, but I saw no panicked throws. He was able to escape some collapsing pockets, though he was helped by reckless, undisciplined rushers. Murray’s agility was outstanding.

I saw some comments on overthrows; especially Brown in the end zone. I’m amazed the throw was that close. Often touch is the last thing to come back. Consider also the possibility he was fighting an adrenaline surge and I thought his accuracy was about as good as could be expected. The under-throw that McBride made the great catch on may well have been fatigue. No matter how hard you work to get in shape, game shape is different. It takes time. Between the adrenaline and that 70 yard run, it’s surprising Murray could do even that well.

Speaking of running. Murray’s agility and acceleration were as good as any in the league. He is still an elite athlete. He benefitted from undisciplined rushers, but in fairness they likely didn’t prep for this elusive a version of Murray. I didn’t expect it. Again his runs were likely restricted, but the scoring run was a thing of beauty. Not sure if that was an option play, but if so he rightly bet on himself. His self confidence seemed fully intact.

The new offense should suit Murray. It’s a more balanced, less predictable strategy. He’s actually able to use more of his athleticism in this offense, than Kingsbury’s stand and throw. The nice thing is they can still run shotgun plays, but now they can do so much more.

The other major difference was when Murray was off the field. He was often being given coaching data as to what they were seeing from the defense. In another view he was with his receivers presumably discussing strategy. This was an engaged Murray, not the old, isolated version. This looked like leadership. This indicated maturity and quality coaching. Detachment no longer was the format. I can’t stress enough how critical I think this is to team spirit. How much more readily I think this facilitates players wanting to win for Murray. Forget all that professionalism stuff. This is a game of emotions. If players feel they are in this together, the team will function stronger as a unit.

Everything isn’t coming up roses yet. First, there’s more to learn. On 2 consecutive plays, Murray had pass attempts tipped. First the O-line can help by making it tougher on engaged rushers to simply reach up. Next Murray needs to shift in the pocket to open throwing lanes. I know a better pocket would help. Nonetheless he needs to watch film on Brees and Wilson; then master their techniques. For maybe the first time I’ve definitively seen it, the Cards completed a hot read pass against a blitz. On this occasion the Falcons disguised the blitz so poorly that Murray actually called an audible to the pass. If they can integrate that ability to identify blitzes and use them against opponents that would be huge.

Then there is the issue of weapons. Another quality receiver would help. Two will be needed if they pass on Brown. A breakaway running back addition could be significant. A second TE would be nice, though most teams manage with one. The O-line needs work. I haven’t even mentioned the defense. This is a weak roster that couldn’t get to the playoffs with any QB. They can’t fix everything next year, but maybe they can fix enough to be playoff bound. Of course this is an issue for later elaboration.

Finally what’s left to examine is permanence and only time will answer that. Will he stay composed? Will he stay disciplined? Will he continue to hone his leadership skills? Will he become the franchise QB a true Super Bowl contender needs? Make no mistake. This was a big step forward. There may be some backsliding against better teams, but hope springs eternal. I’m excited.
Outstanding thesis. Thank you. Read it once, will read it again after work.
 
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