Cardinals rookie quarterback Kyler Murray didn’t look like a generational talent in his second preseason game. And it looks like the Raiders specifically wanted to keep that from happening.
Last night’s Hard Knocks includes clips from a Raiders team meeting in advance of the preseason game at Arizona. And coach Jon Gruden was more intent on stopping a guy his team won’t face in a game that counts until 2022 than he was on getting his team ready for Week One at Denver.
“I’m just tellin’ you, when I studied Murray,” Gruden tells his players. “You can say whatver you want. But I ain’t ever seen a quarterback that runs 4.3 that’s a dual threat like this guy. We make a mistake on him, all right, he can hurt us real bad. We gotta contain him, we’ve gotta get after his ass. Have a respect for this cat, now. And he can run, and he can throw. And he doesn’t need a lot of protection. He can find cracks in the defense, he keeps his vision down the field. And it’s hard to flick the ball 60 yards like that on a dime. So this guy’s dangerous. Respect him. Let’s get after his ass.”
Get after his ass the Raiders did, blitzing him multiple times and making him look like much more of a work in progress than he did a week earlier, against the Chargers. After the game against the Raiders, Murray approached receiver Antonio Brown.
“Why they gotta bring the house on me, bro?” Murray asked Brown.
The Raiders considered betting the house on Murray, working out him and Dwayne Haskins before the draft. That prompted quarterback Derek Carr’s infamous “I’m watching you, Focker” tweet.
Gruden didn’t get a chance to draft Murray, but Gruden’s praise invites speculation as to whether he would have. It’s also tempting to wonder how Carr was feeling as Gruden was praising Murray so effusively.
Sure, the Raiders needed to work on their blitzes in the preseason. But with Arizona not very far from the Raiders’ looming new home and with Murray poised for potential greatness, Thursday night’s game gave the Raiders to throw a temporary wrench in the Cardinals’ plan to unleash Kyler Murray on the NFL. Regardless of whether the Raiders meant to do it, they did.