Rams will be scrambling to stop Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray
It did not matter what the Rams tried.
Nearly every snap that Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray took in an October game turned into a productive and sometimes spectacular play by the third-year pro in a 37-20 Rams defeat.
What can the Rams do to prevent a repeat performance by Murray?
They spent this week formulating a strategy for their NFC West rematch on Monday night in Glendale, Ariz.
“We know that we got to try and bottle him up, not let him get out of the pocket and extend plays,” Rams defensive lineman Aaron Donald said Friday. “So, we do that, we’ll be fine.”
Murray, the top pick in the 2019 NFL draft, completed 24 of 32 passes for 268 yards and two touchdowns against the Rams at SoFi Stadium. Murray also rushed for 39 yards in the Cardinals’ first victory against Rams coach Sean McVay.
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After suffering an ankle injury during an Oct. 28 loss to the Green Bay Packers, Murray sat out three games. He returned last Sunday against the Chicago Bears, passing for two touchdowns and rushing for two in a 33-22 victory.
Murray has passed for 19 touchdowns, with seven interceptions. He has run for five touchdowns.
“When you play guys like that, you’ve got to rush with great vision and violence,” Rams defensive coordinator Raheem Morris said. “You’ve got to keep him on the spot, and you’ve got to make him become a pocket passer.
“And, hopefully, if he becomes a pocket passer, you can make some plays on the ball.”
The Rams’ defense has changed at several positions since the first game against the Cardinals.
Greg Gaines is playing nose tackle in place of Sebastian Joseph-Day, who suffered a chest injury on Oct. 24 against the Detroit Lions.
Gaines, a fourth-round draft pick in 2019, has 2 1/2 sacks.
The Rams face a tough test against the NFC West-leading Cardinals and the Las Vegas Raiders look to overcome the odds against the Kansas City Chiefs.
Three weeks after the loss to the Cardinals, the Rams traded inside linebacker Kenny Young to the Denver Broncos and installed rookie Ernest Jones as the starter.
“He’s kind of taken really the majority of the work from a standpoint of just being on the field [in] almost all our packages,” Morris said of Jones. “He’s really grown.”
A week after trading Young to create salary-cap space, the Rams went back to the Broncos and traded for eight-time Pro Bowl linebacker Von Miller..
Miller has 110½ career sacks. As he prepared for his fourth game with the Rams, however, he still was looking for his first with his new team.
Miller did not practice Friday because of a personal matter, but said this week that he was ready.
“They traded for me for sacks and pressure and just to be a solid edge defender and make game- changing plays and help out A.D.,” Miller said. “This is the game where I should be able to do that.
Everything you need to know for the Los Angeles Rams vs. Arizona Cardinals game on Monday night, including betting odds, start time and TV channel.
“That’s why they brought me here. That’s my job. That’s my responsibility. I’m going to have to do that for this team to have success in the playoffs and, hopefully, go to the Super Bowl.”
The Cardinals (10-2) are currently the top-seeded team in the NFC. The Rams (8-4) are the fifth seed.
Miller said that Murray, a fellow Texan, was “the G.O.A.T. already.”
“He can throw the ball down the field, scramble, read option,” Miller said. “Whatever it is that quarterbacks do well, you create a checklist, and he has all of those checks for sure.”
The Rams also must stop the Cardinals rushing attack. In the first game between the teams, Chase Edmunds rushed for 120 yards. Edmunds has been sidelined for three games because of an ankle injury and has not been activated from injured reserve. So the Cardinals could rely on James Conner, who has rushed for 12 touchdowns.
The Cardinals also have added tight end Zach Ertz to an offense that includes star receiver DeAndre Hopkins, A.J. Green, Rondale Moore and Christian Kirk. Ertz, a three-time Pro Bowl selection was acquired in an Oct. 15 trade with the Philadelphia Eagles.
Ertz has 23 catches, three for touchdowns.
“He does bring another aspect to their offense,” Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey said, “and to the game.”
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