When the Tampa Bay Bucs take the field at Ray Jay; it will have been 49 long days. The last time the Bucs played in front of the home crowd, you remember. What do the Bucs get for a welcome home gift? Bruce Arian’s former team, Arizona Cardinals lead by rookie number-one draft pick Kyler Murray. Many had this game circled on their schedule, and whether Bruce wants to admit it or not, he did too. Arian’s spent 4 seasons in Arizona, retiring after the 2017 season. You know what happened next.
With this being the return to Ray Jay, 2015 first-overall draft pick Jameis Winston and the Bucs are going to have to play smart, sound football. That means the defense is going to be tasked with not only containing, but stopping Murray’s arm. Rookie quarterbacks have continued to be such a thorn in the side of the Bucs (see week 3 of the schedule for details). But Kyler Murray isn’t just any rookie quarterback, this kid is special. Tampa needs to take this kids ability to create plays, very seriously. The front 7 is going to be tasked with getting home on their blitzes this week.
The NFL’s top rush defense is going to be tasked with maintaining David Johnson and newly acquired Kenyan Drake, as well as Murray.
Many people only know who Kyler Murray is just through the draft and maybe some stats, but few have actually followed this kid during his college career, so let’s go in some details about the young man that could very well continue our “Rookie Quarterback Curse“.
Murray started his college career at Texas Tech behind reigning MVP Patrick Mahomes. After Mahomes entered the draft, Murray competed with current Panther’s rookie(and starter) Kyle Allen. Murray would back up Allen, seeing limited action. In his first start, Murray threw for 223 yards and rushed for 156, joining Cam Newton as the only SEC quarterback in the last 20 years to gain 100 yards passing and rushing while recording both a passing and rushing touchdown.
After the 2015 NCAA season, Murray would transfer to the University of Oklahoma, being forced to miss the entire 2016 season due to NCAA transfer rules. In his first season of eligibility for Oklahoma, Murray primarily played back up to Baker Mayfield. Come 2018, Murray finally had the opportunity to start for Lincoln Riley’s Sooners throwing for over 4,361 yards 42 touchdowns and 7 INTs and rushing for 1,001 yards and 12 touchdowns en route to the 2018 Heisman Trophy. During his college career, Murray threw for 5,406 yards and 50 touchdowns while rushing for 1,478 yards and 13 touchdowns.
During his path to the draft, Murray not only became the first-overall draft selection by the Arizona Cardinals but also being the 9th overall draft selection by the MLB’s Oakland Athletics.
In his first season in the league, Murray is completing 64.2% of his passes for 2,229 yards. His 9 touchdowns and 4 interceptions are anything jaw-dropping, but don’t let him fool you as his feet are finally hitting the ground. Murray has 313 rushing yards on 56 attempts and two touchdowns are about average thus far, but again give him time, and he could easily be a true dual-threat quarterback and lead the Cardinals for years to come. Murray could easily be challenging mentor Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson for MVP within the next 3 years.
If Tampa can continue to maintain the ground attack and play assignment football in the past, it should be a recipe for success as long as the offense continues to do their part. If you’re going to build momentum, this would be the time. No more losing to rookies.