Kyler Murray has emerged into one of the NFL's top quarterbacks in just his second year in the NFL, leading the Arizona Cardinals to new heights as the franchise is on the verge of its first postseason appearance in five years. Murray has already put together an impressive resume in the league, becoming the first player in NFL history with 6,000 passing yards and 1,100 rushing yards in his first 25 career games and is just one of three quarterbacks in NFL history with 6,000 passing yards, 30 touchdown passes and 10 touchdown runs in his first two NFL seasons.
Murray has completed 68.2% of his passes and has thrown for 2,814 yards with 19 touchdowns to nine interceptions on the season (95.9 rating). He also has rushed for 650 yards and 10 touchdowns, leading the league with 6.7 yards per carry. The Cardinals quarterback is within striking distance of becoming the first player in NFL history with 4,000 passing yards and 1,000 rushing yards in a season.
While Murray has been impressive on the field, he also is making his mark off it. The NFL's "My Cause, My Cleats" campaign will take place over Week 13 and 14 of this season, as over 1,000 players will raise awareness for non-profit organizations and causes on the field -- highlighting efforts to help make a difference in communities across the country.
Murray chose the "Call of Duty: Endowment" campaign this year, which helps veterans secure high-quality jobs after their military service. "The Endowment" provides funds directly to the best organizations in the United States and United Kingdom that help veterans successfully transition to the civilian workforce. Murray, also known for being an avid gamer, chose "The Endowment" to combine his love for the "Call of Duty" video game franchise and his support for the veterans in need this holiday season. The cleats Murray will wear in Week 13 against the Los Angeles Rams will be worn in-game and auctioned off to raise funds for "Call Of Duty: Endowment."
In an interview with CBSSports.com, Murray discussed the reasoning behind the "My Cause, My Cleats" campaign for this year, his evaluation of the 2020 season, and his love for "Call of Duty" -- and video games in general.
You chose the "Call of Duty: Endowment" for the "My Cause, My Cleats" campaign this year. What factored into that decision?
Murray: It's close to my heart, close to my mother's heart. Her father, he served in the Army and the Navy -- I never got to meet him -- but him being family, she says me and him are just alike. That was my initial reason, but I play "Call of Duty'' everyday and when I found out about the Endowment -- that just made me love the game even more.
I got to see a preview of your cleats. What was the reason behind the color design?
Murray: That all has to do with my grandfather. I wanted it to be special for my mom, this whole deal. I never got to meet him, but I know the type of guy he was based on how my mom described him to me. I wanted her to design the cleats, because she's my best friend. It was special for me to let her design the cleats. I didn't want to put any restriction on them. I can't wait to see the cleats and wear them on the field.
What do you feel are the biggest improvements you made from your rookie year to this year?
Murray: I just think it's a natural maturation. I think everybody would expect to make a big jump from year one to year two. It's an adjustment at each level, high school to college, college to the NFL. Everyone has to make those adjustments, some people make those adjustments quicker than others. I think everyone was able to see what I did over the course of the year.
We're in the thick of the season and every game matters trying to go into the playoffs. I have to be better and we have to find a way to win these games.
How have you adjusted to defenses trying to stop you from beating them on the ground?
Murray: Me being able to run is a plus. I don't have to run for us to win. Obviously defenses, they'll choose to take me out of the run game -- but that's just one less person they have in schemes for my guys in the backfield. I got a lot of confidence in my running backs and offensive line, so I personally don't have to adjust. If defenses want to stop me from running the ball, I'm fine handing the ball off.
What are some parts of your game you feel you can improve on?
Murray: I don't want to single out any particular part of my game. I can get better at everything. We can be better at everything. I strive to be the best, so I don't put a restriction on my game.
For the Cardinals to make the playoffs this year, that's a pretty big deal for the city of Phoenix and state of Arizona
Murray: That's the expectation. The talent that we have, the guys that we have here. I think if we don't make the playoffs, that's a huge disappointment -- at least in my eyes. I expect to make the playoffs.
How have the virtual meetings changed for you guys, compared to a normal Monday-Tuesday routine?
Murray: We've gotten used to it. I think we're pretty good at it. It takes a lot of accountability and responsibility and not being outside doing things that aren't helping the team. You see around the league guys are getting COVID-19 and stuff like that, so I think our organization has done a great job with the protocols, keeping a lot of things virtual. It's little things like grab-and-go meals and some stuff like that, but there's also some stuff we can't really control.
You mentioned you're a big "Call Of Duty" gamer. Do you still play the game during the year or is that an offseason thing for you?
Murray: (Laughing) Oh I play during the season when I have time! It's an everyday occasion during the offseason, no doubt.
Do you have a favorite "Call Of Duty" game you like to play?
Murray: I've been playing since I was a little kid, so this is tough. Modern Warfare II might be my favorite, but I love to play WarZone. Me and my buddies like to play WarZone a lot. I've been locked into football obviously.
With COVID-19 going around, the NFL shut us down on Mondays and Tuesdays. There's a lot of protocol restrictions, so we have to do things virtually. There's a lot of time at the house, more than usual. Whenever I get a chance, me and the guys hop on and play a couple games.
Care to brag about how good you are in "Call of Duty?"
Murray: (Laughing) I always tell people "Call of Duty'' is about reps. I played tournaments and game battles all the time as a kid, but I stopped playing for a while. I got back on recently playing WarZone and I wasn't very good at first, and now I'm pretty good at it. I don't want to brag too much, but I like me over a lot of people. Let's just put it that way.
Playing video games -- for me at least-- it's a good stress reliever when you write all the time. How do video games help you with your profession as a NFL quarterback?
Murray: I think it all relates. The cognitive skills training in video games is something you can do on and off the field. It's hard to explain. You got to have real cognitive skills to be good at video games. You have to be one step ahead at seeing things.
I've been playing them my whole life, so it's just a part of me. It's what I do. I tell people all the time if I didn't play sports, I'd probably be a gamer.