Kyler Murray shows Bears what they need to do
The multithreat quarterback was a model of efficiency Sunday in leading the Cardinals to a 33-22 victory. Now it’s up to the Bears to develop Justin Fields the same way.
For a moment — just a moment — Sunday, it looked as though it might be one of those days for Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray.
On his first play from scrimmage in five weeks — on a cold, rainy, dreary December day in Chicago that he’s not accustomed to — he tried to throw a pass and lost the ball.
‘‘In my head, I was just kind of like, ‘Oh, [bleep],’ ’’ Murray said. ‘‘The ball just slipped out.’’
Undaunted, Murray recovered the fumble at the Bears’ 31-yard line and took a three-yard loss. Three plays later, on fourth-and-two from the Bears’ 20, Murray — true to his nature — disdained a little play that would have kept the drive alive to make a big one. He dropped back and threw a pinpoint pass to DeAndre Hopkins, who toe-tapped into the front corner of the end zone for a touchdown and a 7-0 lead less than five minutes into the game.
‘‘Yeah, no fear,’’ Murray said. ‘‘Trusting the work that we put in, trusting the plays. I think if you go back and look at it, I could have played it safe. We had somebody else wide-open. But that’s, in my eyes, the best receiver in the league. So you give him a chance, and he made a play.’’
It pays to think big. And to have Hopkins on your side. It ended up being that kind of day for Murray against the Bears. He made big plays, avoided bad ones and let his defense do the hard work.
Murray threw only 15 passes but was in complete control of himself, coach Kliff Kingsbury’s offense and the game. He accounted for four touchdowns to lead the Cardinals to a 33-22 victory at Soldier Field.
Murray completed 11 of 15 passes for 123 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions for a 136.9 passer rating. And, coming off an ankle injury, he rushed 10 times for 59 yards and two touchdowns. He wasn’t prolific, but he was in a groove.
‘‘I would love to take credit for that,’’ Kingsbury said. ‘‘But he’s just got a good knack for when to take off and when to hang in the pocket and make the throws. When he uses his legs like that, he’s kind of the ultimate weapon. He’s hard to stop.’’
Murray’s efficient performance saddled the Bears with their sixth loss in their last seven games, but it at least provided them with a little bit of hope that maybe someday they’ll have their own Murray in rookie Justin Fields.
Whether Fields can blossom the way Murray has in his third NFL season remains to be seen. And while Murray’s rookie season in 2019 was much more impressive than Fields’ rookie season has been, he had his own issues, getting sacked 48 times in a 5-10-1 season.
‘‘You’ve got to stick through it,’’ Murray said. ‘‘[Fields] is a great player. He’s got great talent, intangibles. It’s part of the process of being a young guy in the league.
‘‘This league is not easy. I’ve said many times: It’s hard to win. You can be frustrated and stuff like that. But just keep working, keep grinding. They believe in him, I’m sure. He’ll be fine.’’
The big question is whether Fields can make the same progress in coach Matt Nagy’s offense that Murray has made under Kingsbury. Nagy is running out of time.
And Fields has to get back on the field. Even there, Murray’s recent experience might prove helpful to Fields, who missed his second consecutive game with broken ribs.
‘‘I’d rather not have to sit out,’’ Murray said. ‘‘But I think the patience of it all kind of worked out in the end. If I would have rushed it back and tried to play a couple of weeks ago, I probably would have been hurting even more.’’