Pugh: When Kyler Runs, “It Looks Like You’re Pressing Fast-Forward”

Cardinals offensive lineman Justin Pugh explained what it’s like blocking for Kyler Murray and shared his reaction to the DeAndre Hopkins trade

Tiki and Tierney
September 01, 2020 - 7:52 pm

After going 3-13 in 2018, the Arizona Cardinals took a step forward last season at 5-10-1. They finished last in the NFC West, but there are many reasons to believe they will take another step forward in 2020.

The main reason? Kyler Murray. The former No. 1 overall pick fared well as a rookie, completing 64.4 percent of his passes for 3,722 yards, 20 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. He also ran 93 times for 544 yards and four scores.

Brandon Tierney believes Murray, with his dual-threat playmaking, has a legitimate chance to win NFL MVP in his second season.

“Yeah, there’s definitely some wow moments,” Cardinals offensive lineman Justin Pugh said on Tiki & Tierney. “We don’t want him to be taking off and running too often, but when he takes off, it looks like you’re pressing fast-forward on the clicker. When he’s running, he just makes you look slow. I look slow no matter what, but he’s making fast guys look slow – and that’s something that is definitely exciting for us.”

Murray doesn’t just gash defenses with his legs. He is slippery in the pocket, constantly evading would-be tacklers and keeping plays alive.

“He’s the great equalizer,” Pugh said. “When you play offense, a lot of times that extra safety down in the box doesn’t have to account for the quarterback. He’s an extra guy the offensive line has to either block or we have to have a receiver come crack for him. When you have Kyler Murray, you have to account for him. Not only do you have to account for him, [but] he’s making that first guy miss. You almost have to put two people on him. It puts defensive ends in a tough situation, linebackers don’t know how to fit – it really opens up a lot of things for the running backs and the receivers to do play-action. It’s just very tough to defend.”

Murray will benefit from an improved receiving corps, as Arizona acquired DeAndre Hopkins from Houston this offseason. A three-time first-team All Pro, Hopkins has surpassed 1,150 receiving yards in five of the last six seasons.

Pugh said he was “very excited” when the Hopkins deal went down.

“Obviously the human component, I was good friends with David Johnson, and to see a great guy in the locker room and the community get traded, you feel for that guy,” Pugh said. “But then you see when Hop came in, the plays that he can make, we see on the football field where this can take our team. That’s what people kind of lose on the business side of football. At first, we were upset we lost a great guy, and then to see where we’re at now, we’re very excited to have Hop.”

Pugh, a first-round pick in 2013, spent the first five seasons of his career with the Giants. Hopkins reminds him of Odell Beckham Jr.

“[OBJ] was the only other guy I’ve seen make catches like he’s making, and those are just stop-and-stare [moments],” Pugh said. “You get lost in how talented he is.”

The Cardinals open the season on the road against the defending NFC champions – the San Francisco 49ers – on Sept. 13. Kickoff is at 4:25 p.m. ET.