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Bumpus: How Seahawks can contain Cardinals QB Kyler Murray

The Seahawks face a tough challenge defending Cardinals QB Kyler Murray. (Getty)

The 5-0 Seahawks face one of their biggest challenges of the young 2020 season on Sunday when the face the 4-2 Arizona Cardinals in  Seattle’s first divisional game of the year.

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Like many years prior, these two teams split the 2019 series, with the road team taking each contest. Last year was also Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray’s rookie season, and he guided Arizona to a 5-10-1 record while taking home Offensive Rookie of the Year honors.

Against the Seahawks in 2019, Murray’s numbers weren’t great, as he completed 22 of 32 passes for 241 yards and an interception while rushing for 27 yards and a touchdown in Seattle’s 27-10 win in Week 4. When the two teams faced off in Seattle Week 16, Murray completed 11 of 18 passes for 118 yards and a touchdown before he left the game with an injury, but his Cardinals won the game handily at 27-13.

This year, though, Murray was seen as a potential MVP candidate with a better supporting cast around him, namely the acquisition of All-Pro receiver DeAndre Hopkins, as well as him having a full year under his belt. Through six games, Murray is completing roughly 66% of his passes for 1,487 yards and 10 passing touchdowns to six interceptions. He’s also added 370 yards and six touchdowns on the ground.

The Seahawks have struggled mightily on defense in 2020, and Murray is as dynamic a quarterback as there is in the league this season. How can Seattle slow down the second-year quarterback? Former NFL receiver Michael Bumpus shared his thoughts with 710 ESPN Seattle’s Danny and Gallant on Friday.

“Exactly what you said: contained,” Bumpus said to Danny O’Neil. “Those ends have to force him to step up inside the pocket. Don’t let him get outside. Once he goes east and west, that’s the game he wants to play. He’s a little guy … Once he gets outside, he gets going.”

The Seahawks have faced one mobile quarterback this season in the New England Patriots’ Cam Newton, who rushed for 47 yards and two touchdowns. Newton, however, is 6-foot-5 and weighs roughly 250 pounds and is a physical runner. Murray, meanwhile, is 5-10 and weighs around 200 pounds and is a lot faster.

Murray, like Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, makes plays with his legs in the passing game but is also a big threat to take off and run. Because of that, Bumpus said two specific Seahawks defenders will need to step up to keep Murray in check.

“Make him stay inside the pocket, make him deal with (Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright). Make him have to look them in their eyes and make a move because they’re some of the best in the game at that linebacker position,” Bumpus said. “Once he gets outside, that’s a fast mans’ game. Bobby Wagner, big ups, once of the greatest linebackers of all time, that’s not his game. K.J., big ups, one of the greatest Seahawks linebackers of all time, that’s not his game. So if they can force him to step up inside the pocket and work going north-south instead of east-west, that’s your best bet.”

Another option would be to do something we don’t see the Seahawks defense do a whole lot typically.

“Spy him and blitz him,” Bumpus said. “He’s a young quarterback, he’s still learning the position, he’s still working the kinks out. Make him have to decide. Make him have to change the protection. Make him have to hold guys accountable. Make him be a thinker.”

Listen to the second hour of Friday’s Danny and Gallant at this link or in the player below.

Follow Michael Bumpus on Twitter.

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