Kyler Murray’s career-high 380 passing yards for the Arizona Cardinals in a 30-10 win over the New York Jets was described as “sneaky” by running back Chase Edmonds.
What was not sneaky was a change in philosophy for Arizona in the passing game, as it was more of a vertical game from head coach Kliff Kingsbury compared to last week.
On Sunday, Murray made 13 throws that went at least 10 yards and completed nine of them, per NFL Next Gen Stats. That’s compared to a 4-of-9 number Murray had in a loss to the Carolina Panthers last week in which he threw for a total of only 133 yards. Only one of those completions went over 15 yards against Carolina, while Murray was 4-of-5 specifically on throws deeper than 20 yards in New York.
“It felt a little bit more aggressive,” wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins said of the gameplan.
Hopkins reeled in six receptions for 131 yards and a touchdown, including catches for 37 and 45 yards on the same drive.
“We got weapons and I think we gotta use our guys,” Murray said. “I think you see that with the plays out there … At some point, you just gotta let ’em go. Let ’em do what they do, try and get the ball in their hands and that’s my job.”
Hopkins eluded to a conversation with Murray in which he told the second-year quarterback to trust him more to make plays in 1-on-1 coverage.
“I like my odds,” Hopkins astutely put it.
His quarterback listened.
“He shows you time and time again why he’s the best receiver in the league,” Murray said, admitting he wasn’t sure if Hopkins was going to come down with it on one of those deep throws.
Five different Cardinals receivers had a reception that went at least 20 yards.
“It just helps with the tempo of the offense,” wide receiver Christian Kirk said, who had five catches for 74 yards and one of those big grabs that converted for 24 yards.
The third-year wideout went on to say he felt this was a “breakthrough” of sorts for him after a slow start and groin injury had him at only six catches through three games entering Sunday. Murray noted an extra pep in Kirk’s step and both acknowledged figuring out more of a connection on Sunday.
Kingsbury said the team never got in a rhythm last week and was too “disjointed” to have the north-south part of the passing game function like it did against the Jets.
“We hit some throws we didn’t hit the week before,” he said.
The Cardinals were ready for the Jets’ specific brand of defense Gregg Williams deploys as defensive coordinator. A few different players went out of their way to mention it, and the Cardinals were clearly ready to take advantage of it where they could.
“Thought we were pretty efficient,” Kirk said.
There were obviously still things to work on. Murray, Kingsbury and Kirk all brought up penalties after Arizona committed 10 for 58 yards.
It was also a game they could have had locked up a lot earlier, with the Jets only trailing 17-10 at one point in the third quarter.
“We still gotta find ways to put a team away,” running back Chase Edmonds said. “Early in the second half, we had two drives where we could have put the game out of reach or really just put our foot on their neck. Our defense bailed us out but then [the offense] finally scored a touchdown.”
There’s a lot left to fix, but finding that aforementioned rhythm comes at the right time with a poor Dallas Cowboys defense next up on the slate.