GLENDALE, Ariz. — History has a weird way of repeating itself.
Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray had the chance Sunday to become the first quarterback in NFL history to throw for 300 yards in his first three games, bettering the record Cam Newton set in 2011. Instead, playing against Newton’s team, Murray followed Newton’s path, throwing for 173 yards eight years after Newton threw for 158 in his third NFL game.
Unlike Newton, who won his third game for his first NFL win, Murray lost to the Carolina Panthers 38-20, displaying a mix of dynamic savviness and a rookie’s inexperience.
After an impressive first drive, when Murray mixed in runs and plays with his feet with a variety of different passes, Murray struggled with making sound decisions, often holding on to the ball too long — which resulted in eight sacks — or making ill-advised throws. He threw two interceptions and two touchdowns to go along with 173 yards on 30-for-43 passing. He also ran for a team-high 69 yards, making defenders miss with his feet.
But it wasn’t enough. Murray didn’t mix his passing and running well enough to keep the ball moving down the field.
Describe the game in two words: “Dink” and “dunk.” While the Cardinals’ offense looked as good as it has all season on Sunday, Arizona didn’t take many shots downfield. Seven of Murray’s 43 attempts were longer than 10 yards and just one was a completion. Otherwise, Arizona used short passes to move the ball down the field. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s a major part of Kliff Kingsbury’s offense, but when the Cardinals needed a big play, the downfield pass wasn’t effective.
Troubling trend: David Johnson continued to be quiet Sunday against Carolina, rushing for just 37 yards. He has yet to hit 100 yards this season with totals of 82 in Week 1 and 13 in Week 2. Johnson has struggled to break the big runs and hasn’t often shown the jump cut that was once a valuable weapon for him. His inability to get going has cost the Cardinals the option of relying on him to be a major focal point of the offense, instead turning to Murray to run the ball.
Biggest hole in the game plan: Defending tight ends. The Cardinals’ trouble defending against tight ends continued Sunday and it contributed to Arizona losing to a formerly 0-2 team. Panthers tight end Greg Olsen finished with 75 yards and two touchdowns, continuing a trend of tight ends torching the Cardinals’ defense. It was Detroit’s T.J. Hockenson in Week 1 with 131 yards and a touchdown on six catches and Baltimore’s Mark Andrews in Week 2 with eight catches for 112 yards and a touchdown.
Bold prediction for next week: Kingsbury will continue to learn from his mistakes as a playcaller and fix them. After 36 of Murray’s 43 attempts were thrown 10 yards or less against the Panthers, Kingsbury will stretch the field more to get Arizona’s offense kick-started when it starts to slow down and get receivers such as Damiere Byrd more involved.
Source — Sammy Watkins out for Chiefs; Tyreek Hill to test shoulder before game
Kansas City Chiefs receiver Sammy Watkins will not play in Sunday’s game against the Houston Texans because of a hamstring injury, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter, while fellow receiver Tyreek Hill will test his injured shoulder before making a final decision.
Hill, 25, is said to have a “serious chance” to play, the source said Saturday, but the Chiefs are not making any commitments after Watkins aggravated his hamstring on the first play of last week’s loss to the Indianapolis Colts.
Hill, listed as questionable, has been out of the lineup since suffering an injury to his sternum and right collarbone in Week 1. He returned to practice last week.
“He did OK,” coach Andy Reid said of Hill’s practice week. “He did a little scout team. He did a few plays with [the starters] on the offensive side. We’ll see how it all rolls down the road here. We’ve got to make sure the docs are OK with it.”
Watkins, 26, didn’t practice all week because of the sore hamstring.
Rams rule Todd Gurley out against unbeaten 49ers
Gurley is dealing with a thigh contusion that he suffered in a Week 5 loss to the Seattle Seahawks.
Malcolm Brown is expected to start in place of Gurley and it’s also anticipated that rookie Darrell Henderson, a third-round pick from Memphis, will see action.
Brown has rushed for 114 yards and two touchdowns on 26 carries. Henderson has played only two snaps this season, both in a Week 1 win over the Carolina Panthers.
On Saturday, the Rams also made a roster move to add depth at running back, promoting John Kelly from the practice squad to the active roster. In a corresponding move, receiver Nsimba Webster was waived.
Gurley’s absence leaves the Rams without several key starters against the undefeated 49ers. Cornerback Aqib Talib has been ruled out because of a rib injury and outside linebacker Clay Matthews also is sidelined after undergoing surgery to repair a broken jaw.
Jets waive QB Luke Falk as LB Brandon Copeland back from 4-game suspension
Falk was thrown into a difficult situation because of Darnold’s illness and Trevor Siemian’s season-ending ankle injury.
In 16- and 25-point losses to the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles, respectively, Falk passed for only 218 yards and threw three interceptions with no touchdowns. His Total QBR was 4.8, easily the worst in the NFL in Weeks 3-5. (The Jets had a Week 4 bye.)
In last week’s loss, Falk was sacked nine times and committed four turnovers, two of which were returned for touchdowns. Coach Adam Gase, apparently frustrated by Falk’s play, opted for Fales as the primary backup even though he hasn’t thrown a regular-season pass since 2017. Fales received a mop-up series last week and has been active for two games.
The Jets have Mike White, a former Cowboys draft pick, on the practice squad. Falk could return to the practice squad, where he began the season.
Gase didn’t dismiss the possibility of signing an experienced backup. Free agent Brock Osweiler, who played for Gase in Miami, would seem to be a logical option.
This is a tough break for Falk, who tried unsuccessfully to rally a winless team with major struggles on offense.
“Listen, man, Luke was thrown into a position that was very hard, very tough, something that many people cannot do,” safety Jamal Adams said. “He did his best. That’s all you can ask for.”
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