<
>

Ravens welcome Kyler Murray to a rookie QB's historical nightmare

play
Berry knows the full 'Kyler show' wasn't on display Week 1 (1:18)

Matthew Berry knows that we didn't see Kyler Murray's full potential Sunday vs. the Lions, but is confident he has a lot more to show this season. (1:18)

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- The first NFL road game for Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray comes at the most formidable location, at least historically speaking.

Murray, the No. 1 overall pick in this year's draft, will direct Arizona's Air Raid offense into Baltimore, where the Ravens have roughed up, confused and regularly crushed young quarterbacks.

The Ravens are 15-2 (.882) all time against rookie quarterbacks at home, toppling the likes of Peyton Manning, Eli Manning, Carson Wentz and Baker Mayfield. No other NFL team has beaten more first-year quarterbacks on its home turf since 1996, the Ravens' first season.

"For a young quarterback on the road in his first start, that’s a tough task," Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury said. "Where they bring people from, how adept they are at disguising looks and hitting the pressures on time, it’s going to be a real challenge for us."

One reason the Ravens have dominated rookie quarterbacks is that their defense consistently ranks among the NFL's best. No other defense has given up fewer points than Baltimore since John Harbaugh took over as coach in 2008.

What can't be discounted is how the Ravens play defense. The versatility of their players and unpredictability of their schemes makes it difficult for any quarterback to get a read on Baltimore.

Safeties can drop down and play linebacker. Inside linebackers will line up as edge rushers or run to the post in coverage. The Ravens are never sitting back and playing one position, one blitz or one coverage. Brandon Carr has the ability to play cornerback, nickelback or safety.

Pro Bowl safety Earl Thomas said this offseason that his biggest adjustment was learning the defense. He went from playing Cover 3 all the time in Seattle to making calls on the fly in Baltimore.

If the Baltimore defense were on the field for 60 plays, defensive end Chris Wormley estimated the Ravens could show different looks on 50 of them.

"I just know last year when Wink [defensive coordinator Don Martindale] was throwing stuff at us last year, we were saying, ‘What the hell is this?'" Wormley said. "We then broke it down to these fronts, these patterns, these blitzes and these concepts, and then we brought it back to the whole. Now it makes sense; you can box things and put things into different categories.

"For a rookie quarterback or even a first-year coach in Kingsbury, it’s going to be tough for them. That’s an advantage for us."

The only rookie quarterbacks to beat the Ravens in Baltimore were Jake Plummer (1997) and Mitchell Trubisky (2017). The only first-year passers to throw for multiple touchdowns there were Peyton Manning (1998) and Mayfield (2018).

Against rookie quarterbacks, Baltimore has made 25 interceptions and allowed 14 touchdown passes for an awfully low 63.1 passer rating.

"You can’t really look at just one guy and be like, ‘OK, he’s going to be here. He’s going to be there,'" cornerback Marlon Humphrey said. "We have so many different packages -- packages not everybody has even seen with different young guys."

Murray won't be the only one tested. The Cardinals put a great deal of stress on defenses by how fast they work offensively and how they line up.

Arizona wants to wear downs defenses. In their season-opening tie with the Detroit Lions, the Cardinals averaged 22.4 seconds between plays, the fastest rate in the NFL in Week 1, according to ESPN Stats & Information. The quickest rate for a full season in the last 15 years is 22.7 seconds by Chip Kelly’s Eagles in 2014 and 2015.

No team spreads out teams more than Arizona. The Cardinals used at least four wide receivers on 58 plays in Week 1. That’s more than the rest of the league combined and the second-highest total by any team in a game in the last decade.

It's a tough time for the Ravens to face an offense like this. Baltimore is down three cornerbacks: Tavon Young and rookie fourth-round pick Iman Marshall are on injured reserve, and Jimmy Smith is sidelined for multiple weeks. Marlon Humphrey, the team's top cornerback, is dealing with a back injury and won't be at full strength.

"They have different types of receivers," Harbaugh said. "We’ll match our guys up. We have safeties that can cover receivers as well in zone and man coverage, so we’ll be in different kinds of personnel groups, just like we always are, just in terms of how we want to game-plan and match those guys. We have a plan for that, obviously, that we will practice this week, but it’s a challenge."