The Washington Football Team learned Sunday that it's not enough to pressure Kyler Murray. Getting the Arizona Cardinals quarterback to the ground is another matter altogether.
Murray once again proved he's a dual-threat force in the Cardinals' 30-15 victory over Washington, throwing for 286 yards, one score and one INT, while adding 67 yards rushing on eight keepers with two additional touchdowns.
Murray's legs are a marvel to watch as he scampers away from defenders with an ease of acceleration that only the most souped-up of luxury vehicles can relate. Weaving, juking and slicing his way through Washington's defense, it's the type of performance coach Kliff Kingsbury, who scouted Murray in high school, has grown accustomed to seeing.
"I've watched that since he was 15 years old," Kingsbury said, via ESPN. "He is one of the most dangerous people probably in the league when he's in the open field like that, and he is as elusive as anybody, and that's a weapon. He's just got to be able to protect himself, which he does a good job of."
Murray has proven through two weeks that he can not only lead with his arm, but defenses must seriously start to respect his rushing ability. Through two tilts, Murray leads the Cards with 158 rushing yards and three touchdowns. He has generated 46.5 percent of all of Arizona's rushing yards and three-quarters of the ground TDs.
Murray became the first QB in the Super Bowl era to have 150-plus rush yards and 3-plus rush TD over the first two weeks of a season, per NFL Research.
"He adds a different dynamic to this offense where he can go and score from 20, 30 yards out," receiver DeAndre Hopkins said. "It's something that is hard for defenders to be able to attack when you have a quarterback like that that is looking to score and not just getting first downs.
"And, also, when he's running, he's looking to throw. As you seen today, the touchdowns that he had, obviously, it was defenders right there in front of him and he made a move or two, and went in for a touchdown."
Washington's talented defensive front pressured Murray on 33 percent of his dropbacks Sunday, per Pro Football Focus. With the quarterback able to scamper out of most, getting sacked just three times, Murray negated that pressure with deft pocket movement and scampers across the gridiron. Unlike some running QBs, Murray is mostly able to avoid big hits or deftly side down, thanks to his baseball background.
Kingsbury views some of Murray's need to run as a product of the offense not being quite in sync through two tilts.
"I think you can see we're not as sharp as we'd like to be," Kingsbury said. "But he has so much talent that he can still make some incredible plays. And we're just gonna keep working at it and hopefully take another step next week and go from there. So, he's a spectacular talent. We all know that.
"I think when we really get it clicking and get in a rhythm that we can get rolling pretty good. So, we'll hopefully take another step next week and that'll continue."
After beating two of the top defenses in the NFL in San Francisco and Washington, who ranked No. 1 overall in defensive DVOA by Football Outsiders after the opening weekend, the thought that Arizona still has big offensive steps to take should be scary for other opponents.
"I just feel like we have not hit our stride yet," Kingsbury said.
The short strides of Murray have been plenty to get the Cards off to a 2-0 start to the campaign. With three games against current winless teams next on the docket (Detroit, Carolina, New York Jets), Arizona is in prime position to get through the first quarter of the season in excellent shape for a playoff bid.