Washington’s Week 2 Preview: Defending Kyler Murray and tempering expectations on offense

After an excellent debut, Washington’s defensive position faces a hard encore. The Cardinals’ offense is most commonly wholesome, it strikes at warp pace to tire out the protection, and it’s led by means of one of the most NFL’s very best younger quarterbacks, Kyler Murray. The No. 1 draft select in 2019 confirmed his dual-threat dynamism closing week by means of throwing for 230 yards, speeding for 91 and totaling two touchdowns in a 24-20 highway dissatisfied of the reigning NFC champion San Francisco 49ers.

“He offers me anxiousness,” Washington Trainer Ron Rivera stated.

Murray is a pointed problem for Washington. He simply sliced up a 49ers defensive position that was once noticed as a type for the way Washington constructed its staff extensive and ability, and he’s coached by means of Kliff Kingsbury, one of the most recreation’s most sensible offensive minds. San Francisco’s line were given to Murray for 2 sacks, however how the Cardinals overcame it could supply a peek at their blueprint towards Washington.

First, the Cardinals prioritized brief, fast passes. Murray held the ball for a median of two.42 seconds according to throw, in keeping with NFL Subsequent Gen Stats, the seventh-fastest mark in Week 1. Additionally, 28 of his 40 passing makes an attempt (70 %) had been inside 10 yards of the road of scrimmage. The Cardinals scaled this method — their 78 performs tied for second-most within the league in Week 1 — to wear out the 49ers.

The ones numbers illustrate the tactic; those display the way it labored: Because the defensive linemen gave the impression extra fatigued, Murray began the use of his legs extra, and he won 90 of his 91 speeding yards in the second one part. Those weren’t on designed runs or bootleg bailouts, both. Murray noticed his receivers blanketed, discovered a hollow within the pocket and took off. By way of the fourth quarter, the 49ers’ line appeared gassed as Murray led two lengthy scoring drives — one 9 performs, the opposite 14 — to tug off the dissatisfied.

For Washington, this method demanding situations its prized intensity at the defensive position. Rivera has emphasised he needs to rotate linemen to stay them recent, and it labored towards the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 1. Each key lineman performed between 78 % (Chase Younger) and 22 % (Tim Settle) of the snaps. This week, Rivera stressed out the significance of maintaining Murray within the pocket, and the go protection will have to dangle up towards two elite broad receivers. However the important thing for the road figures to be whether or not it could possibly stay tempo with an offensive taste very best described as a marathon of sprints.

Don’t get too fascinated with the offense simply but. There have been causes to imagine Washington’s unit wasn’t as a long way alongside as its 27 issues advised closing week — for instance, all 5 scoring drives began in Philadelphia territory — and Rivera additional wet-blanketed it this week.

“We’ve were given a long way to move,” he stated. “You almost certainly truly gained’t see it or get a really feel for [the offense] till truly subsequent season.”

The staff’s “largest fear” is early life at broad receiver, Rivera added. Washington’s receiving corps — headlined by means of second-year standout Terry McLaurin and journeyman Dontrelle Inman — stands in stark distinction to the Cardinals’ elite skill of DeAndre Hopkins and Larry Fitzgerald. Inman is Washington’s handiest receiver at the lively roster with greater than two years of revel in.

Nonetheless, this matchup offers Washington an opportunity to be told extra about itself. Rivera idea first-year offensive coordinator Scott Turner was once “stretching” early closing week sooner than he settled in, and this week the focal point will accentuate on his play-calling and quarterback Dwayne Haskins’s endurance. The offense will have to discover a rhythm previous than it did towards the Eagles.

Washington will have to gradual two of the NFL’s very best receivers in contemporary reminiscence. Fitzgerald is in his 17th season and Hopkins remains to be adjusting to his new staff, however the two wideouts stay unhealthy — and massive portions of the Cardinals’ recreation plan. The pair accounted for 21 of Murray’s 40 goals closing week — Hopkins had 16 — and each ranked within the most sensible quarter in receiver separation according to path, in keeping with NFL Subsequent Gen Stats.

All the unit will check a Washington secondary that intercepted two passes in Week 1. The plus for Washington is it could get again most sensible cornerback Kendall Fuller, who ignored the opener with a calf damage. If this is the case, it’ll be as much as the beginning rotation of Fuller, Ronald Darby and Jimmy Moreland within the slot to gradual the Cardinals’ roll.

Damage document: Washington’s linebacker corps might be skinny. Backup center linebacker Cole Holcomb was once dominated out Friday on account of a knee damage, and out of doors linebacker Thomas Davis Sr. was once indexed as questionable with a calf damage. Davis was once inactive for the opener towards the Eagles. If Davis can’t pass once more, Washington would have handiest 4 wholesome linebackers and would possibly glance to name up Jared Norris or Donald Payne from the observe squad.

Even if Fuller practiced in complete Friday, he was once indexed as questionable. His go back could be vital as defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio devises a plan for overlaying Arizona’s elite receivers. “In line with issues that we wish to do with our coverages, in case you have a man like [Fuller] in the market and you’ve got him shadowing avid gamers, he’s a distinct man,” Rivera stated.

The Cardinals can be with out beginning middle Mason Cole (hamstring) and No. 2 tight finish Maxx Williams (ankle). Reserve linebacker Kylie Fitts (wrist) and reserve lineman Josh Jones (ankle) are questionable. Arizona positioned beginning sturdy protection Jalen Thompson on injured reserve this week. Defensive coordinator Vance Joseph informed journalists that Thompson’s very best trait is open-field tackling, so he wanted Thompson’s replacements — Chris Banjo and Deionte Thompson — to duplicate that.

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