Patriots defense doesn’t want another mobile quarterback nightmare with Kyler Murray

The Patriots defense has seen this movie before.
It stars an elite offense. A mobile quarterback. And weapons galore.
It started with Russell Wilson and Seattle, Week 2. Then came the sequels.
Patrick Mahomes and Kansas City, Week 4. Josh Allen and Buffalo, Week 7. Lamar Jackson and Baltimore, Week 9. Deshaun Watson and Houston, Week 10.
And as it turned out, several of those games turned out to be horror flicks for the Patriots.
Will Kyler Murray and Arizona be the same on Sunday?
“We just can’t get away from these mobile guys,” Patriots cornerback Jason McCourty said Wednesday. “From Lamar Jackson, to Deshaun Watson, to now, Kyler Murray. He’s making it happen out there.”
Murray is making it happen in his second year with a cast that includes DeAndre Hopkins, Larry Fitzgerald, Christian Kirk and former UMass standout Andy Isabella at receiver.
Hopkins, who arrived in the offseason via trade with the Texans, currently leads the league with 912 receiving yards and 72 catches. He’s caught four touchdown passes.
The Patriots, however, do catch a break because Fitzgerald, one of the NFL’s all-time great receivers, won’t be in the mix Sunday thanks to being added to the COVID-19/Reserve list after reportedly testing positive for the virus.
Collectively, though, it will still be hard to contain the Cardinals. They still boast the NFL’s top offense.
“Because of who the skill guys are … they have weapons all over the place,” said McCourty. “Kirk is a guy that can take the top off a defense. Fitzgerald is a crafty guy inside, and doesn’t look like he ages much, still playing at a high level. And Hopkins is your go-to No. 1 receiver who’s been one of the most productive receivers since he’s been in the league.”
Running backs Kenyan Drake and Chase Edmonds are also receiving threats coming out of the backfield, Edmonds in particular (36 catches, 297 yards, 3 TDs), so Murray has plenty of options, even without Fitzgerald.
After being torched by Watson and the Texans last week, the Patriots defense is looking to get back up on the horse, and take down one of these mobile studs. They have to find a way to limit the damage, much like they did with Mahomes in Kansas City. But it still won’t be easy.
Even at 5-foot-10, Murray packs a wallop. He can kill you in the air, and on the ground. At the moment, he’s the NFL’s top rushing quarterback.
“He’s so fast, so quick, he’s just like a receiver or skill guy, or running back, when he has the ball in his hands,” said McCourty. “His ability to be able to stretch the field and get the ball down the field from in the pocket, but also make things happen and create by getting outside the pocket … that just makes him extremely dangerous.”
Murray has been bothered by a shoulder injury. It remains to be seen how much, if at all, it hinders him during the game.
But like Watson and Jackson in particular, Murray can rip the heart out of a defense. It can have all the receivers covered, and bust in for a sure takedown only to see Murray escape and make a huge gain.
“I think when you have a quarterback like Kyler Murray that when you’re able to break free and get home, he’s able to turn what should have been a 7-yard loss on a sack, to a 7-yard gain,” said McCourty. “That’s demoralizing. And those are the plays that can keep drives alive for them.”
While the Patriots managed to contain Jackson two weeks ago, the same can’t be said for Watson, who threw for 344 yards and two scores. To have a chance on Sunday, they’ll need to corral Murray.
And, they’ll need to keep Hopkins, Kirk and their two backs — Drake and Edmonds — in check.
But like the games with Seattle, Kansas City, Houston, etc., it all starts with the quarterback. Murray is going to be a handful, even though he’s pint-sized compared with many other quarterbacks.
Coming out of college, many doubted Murray would succeed given his stature. Thus far, he’s managed to prove people wrong.
“I mean, he was the No. 1 pick for a reason. And I think when it comes to talent, and what he’s been blessed with, it was obvious when you watched him while he was in college, he had the talent to play in this league,” said McCourty. “Because of his size, there’s going to be doubt. As he continues to play well, there’s always going to be people that are going to say something about him, but he continues to break the mold and break down any doubts or any naysayers that have talked about him throughout his career.”
Having seen a few reruns, the Patriots certainly know what they’re up against. And to them, Murray is a giant problem.

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