Kyler Murray was sacked a league-high 48 times, tied with Matt Ryan and Russell Wilson. The Arizona Cardinals quarterback took the blame for most of those takedowns.
"Last year, a lot of those sacks I feel were on me," Murray said recently, via Cards Wire.
Most would look at the Cardinals' offensive line struggles last season and pin the blame on them for all the times Murray ate a sack. There is a growing realization, however, that sacks are actually a quarterback stat. You can read about it here, or here, or here. The basic premise states that the QB has the ability to overcome pressure by recognizing it pre-snap, getting the ball out quicker, throwing it away, taking a check-down to avoid a sack or wiggling away from a defender. He has many more avenues to avoid a sack than his blockers do -- especially when they're outnumbered or out-gamed. The best signal-callers help their offensive line by avoiding QB takedowns, sometimes before the play even starts.
Murray believes his experience from Year 1 will help him better avoid drive-crippling sacks in 2020. Too often, Murray held the ball waiting for something to materialize downfield.
"I don't think I'll be putting those guys in that situation too many times anymore," he said. "If it happens, it happens, but I think we'll be a lot better just from experience."
Murray taking the blame for the sacks displays his growing leadership role in Arizona -- his offensive linemen are sure to appreciate the comments.
The notion that sacks are more of a QB stat doesn't mean the offensive line is completely absolved and doesn't need to improve. There were times that Murray was swallowed quickly, and the run-blocking was atrocious for stretches. The return of injured players like tackle Marcus Gilbert and addition of rookie Josh Jones should help the unit grow in 2020.
The strides Murray and the Cardinals offense made down the stretch -- along with the addition of DeAndre Hopkins -- portend to big things in Kliff Kingsbury's second season. Murray was only sacked twice in the final three weeks of the 2019 campaign (averaged 3.5 per game for the first 13 tilts). If he can help keep those QB takedowns to a minimum, the offense will function even better than we saw late last year.