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Kyler Murray: The NFL’s next breakout quarterback | NFL News



Kyler Murray is expected to improve considerably in his second season

Kyler Murray is expected to improve considerably in his second season

Lamar Jackson. Patrick Mahomes. Over the last two seasons, we’ve seen two young star quarterbacks have head-turning, highlight-making, eventual MVP-winning sophomore seasons.

Mahomes wowed with his arm, breaking out with a 5,000-yard, 50-touchdown year, and followed it with a Super Bowl-winning encore and a half-billion-dollar contract.

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Jackson, meanwhile, was unstoppable through the air and on the ground last season. In his third season, who knows?

Comparisons to those two are lofty, but if there’s one player who could experience a similar year-two leap, it is Arizona’s Kyler Murray.

A bit of background

The Arizona Cardinals made Murray the No 1 overall selection in the 2019 NFL Draft

The Arizona Cardinals made Murray the No 1 overall selection in the 2019 NFL Draft

After a 3-13 2018 season with Steve Wilks at the helm, in which they earned the No 1 pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, the Cardinals cleared house. In came Kliff Kingsbury – long-time Texas Tech head coach – and with that top pick, he secured Oklahoma QB Murray.

Despite measuring up at just 5-foot-10 at a position that usually demands height, former Heisman Trophy winner Murray became the first quarterback under six feet to be taken No 1 overall.

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He also became the first player to be drafted in the first round of both the NFL and MLB drafts after the Oakland Athletics selected him ninth overall in the 2018 MLB Draft, hoping he would trade in touchdowns for home runs – but the lure of football was too much.

We know he was a multi-sport athlete, a shorter guy and also someone with the talent to go first overall in the NFL Draft. But what is he like on the football field?

Murray, the quarterback

Murray's rushing prowess dates back to his days as an Oklahoma Sooner

Murray’s rushing prowess dates back to his days as an Oklahoma Sooner

First thing’s first: Murray can ‘do both’. He is a ‘dual-threat’ in the true sense of the word, as someone who can challenge defenses both through the air and on the ground.

When he started his college career at Texas A&M, he became the second-ever SEC QB (after Cam Newton) to record 100 yards passing and rushing and both passing and rushing TDs in his debut.

In his final – Heisman Trophy-winning – season, he racked up 4,361 yards and 42 touchdowns passing. On top of that, he added 1,001 rushing yards and 12 TDs on the ground.

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An electric playmaker on the field, he defines ‘quick-twitch’ athlete and causes nightmares for defenders attempting to get a read on what he is dialling up.

Attack the pocket, and he will fire the ball out quickly. Give him too much time and space, and he will either burn you on the ground or progress through his targets and pick you apart.

Watch his highlight reel and you’ll see him blaze past defenders, sidestep them, spin, backtrack and cut every which way – sometimes all behind the line of scrimmage. If you’re after mesmerising highlights, he’s your man.

You may assume the quality running is at the expense of high-level passing. It’s not. Murray has the arm strength and quick release to hang with the best of them.

The rookie season

Murray experienced the highs and lows of being a rookie quarterback

Murray experienced the highs and lows of being a rookie quarterback

How did Murray’s talent and prior success work out in the NFL in his rookie campaign? It was a mixed bag. Arizona’s record improved to 5-10-1 and Murray showed plenty of flashes of what he is capable of.

Just like in high school and college, the rookie produced both through the air (3,722 yards, 20 touchdowns compared to 12 interceptions) and on the ground (544 rushing yards and four scores).

The positives were there: A 64.4 completion percentage put him 15th among all quarterbacks (ahead of Carson Wentz, Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady) and his interception percentage was better than Matt Ryan and Deshaun Watson.

He also ranked in the top 10 in both passing attempts and completions, so at the very least, he got some practice in!

Head coach Kliff Kingsbury and Murray talk on the sideline

Head coach Kliff Kingsbury and Murray talk on the sideline

However, the production doesn’t fairly show the potential. Rookie quarterbacks play like rookies. They make mistakes. They learn on the job.

While there were some statistics in which he held his own, there were a few very bad ones. Murray was sacked 48 times, tied for most in the league with Russell Wilson and Matt Ryan.

His 6.6 average yards per attempt number was down in 24th. While other QBs were airing the ball down the field, Murray was more conservative in his approach.

Similarly, his touchdown percentage (3.7) was down in 27th. With the number of passes he threw, you would expect more to find the end zone.

So why the positivity for 2020? There are a few factors.

2020 breakout

The addition of DeAndre Hopkins could take Arizona's offense to a new level

The addition of DeAndre Hopkins could take Arizona’s offense to a new level

Firstly, and most obviously, the acquisition of DeAndre Hopkins from Houston will be huge for Murray. 36-year-old Larry Fitzgerald and sophomore Christian Kirk, the team’s leading receivers, combined for 1,513 yards and seven touchdowns last season.

Hopkins matched that touchdown total last season (with 1,165 yards) and had at least 1,300 yards and 11 TDs in each of the seasons prior. He is truly an elite wideout and will change the look of the attack.

Just as important, in fact, is that Murray is going to his second year in Kingsbury’s system. Murray (and Kingsbury) have learned it for a season, seen how it operates, and had the chance to improve it. The QB will know the playbook inside out.

It comes back to that second-year boom. Adapting to the league takes time. Both on the field and off it, players drastically have to change the way they think and behave. In his second season, Murray will be more comfortable, and that usually means success.

Former Cardinals quarterback and Hall of Famer Kurt Warner – who led Arizona to their last Super Bowl appearance in 2009 – was also encouraged by Murray’s first year.

Warner: Guys like Murray bring a whole different dimension

Murray will hope to follow in Kurt Warner's footsteps and take the Cardinals back to the Super Bowl

Murray will hope to follow in Kurt Warner’s footsteps and take the Cardinals back to the Super Bowl

Speaking to Sky Sports on NFL 32, Warner said although the traditional quarterback is 6’4 and 225 pounds, smaller, more athletic ones like Murray (5’10, 207) “bring a whole different dimension to everything.

“I still think there are a lot of ways to play quarterback and what we’ve seen recently with guys like Lamar Jackson, Kyler Murray, Russell Wilson, they’ve opened our eyes to the fact that you can win at the position playing differently than maybe what we thought 10 years ago,” he continued.

“We thought it was about being a drop-back quarterback, being the bigger, stronger guy, being able to throw in the pocket – which I still think is needed to win championships – but you can have a lot of success, you can win a lot of games by being able to move and create and ad-lib.

Murray dives for the end zone against the Cincinnati Bengals

Murray dives for the end zone against the Cincinnati Bengals

“We are seeing more and more of that in the NFL and we are seeing a lot more success from those guys than we’ve seen in the past.

“So I just think our eyes are being opened – there are a lot of different ways to win and play quarterback in the NFL.”

Murray is just 23 years old and at the start of a blossoming career, but with the ingredients of situation, weapons and talent, 2020 could see him rise to become the NFL’s next sophomore quarterback star.

The Cardinals face a tough test to start the season as they face the reigning NFC champion San Francisco 49ers on the road on Sunday at 9.25pm.

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Waco Ironman races canceled out of ‘abundance of caution’ | Sports News




Waco’s plan to become the first city to host a full Ironman and a half Ironman race in the same weekend never actually hit the starting line.

Ironman race officials announced on Friday that the Ironman Texas and Ironman 70.3 Waco that were scheduled for Oct. 17-18 have been canceled. “Unfortunately, based on further conversations and with direction from local Waco authorities in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic, and with the health and safety of our community being an utmost priority, both … triathlons cannot take place in 2020,” the organization said in a news release.

The Ironman Texas — a 140.6-mile swim, bike and run test of endurance — was originally scheduled for April 25, 2020, in The Woodlands. When that event was scrapped due to the coronavirus, the Greater Waco Sports Commission swooped in with an ambitious plan to bring Ironman Texas to Waco during the same October weekend it would host the Ironman 70.3 race. Ironman officials liked the revised plan, which called for the full Ironman race to be held on Saturday, Oct. 17, followed by the Ironman 70.3 on Sunday the 18th. More than 2,000 racers were expected to participate, including some in both races. The Oct. 17 race would have been the first Ironman event to be held in North America in 2020.

COVID-19 interfered yet again, however.

“We had a significant, robust safety plan in place and felt confident that the races could happen without causing community spread,” said Will Phipps, executive director of the Greater Waco Sports Commission. “Ultimately, the decision makers decided that the risk was greater than the reward, and we respect that decision.”

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Bundesliga offers broadcasters IP-based streaming, Claro and Band secure rights




The German Football League (DFL) is providing its international rights-holding broadcasters with IP-based live streaming through its tie-up with Amazon Web Services, the cloud computing subsidiary of Amazon.

Ahead of the start of the 2020-21 Bundesliga tonight, the DFL has detailed the additional broadcast distribution services on offer to rights-holding broadcasters.

Bayern Munich face Schalke 04 in the season opener and Bundesliga International, the league’s commercial rights arm, has finalised more rights deals shortly before the kick-off of the new season. These include a deal in Latin America, where Claro Sports telecoms giant América Móvil has acquired the rights with the exception of Brazil, where a free-to-air rights deal has now been agreed with commercial broadcaster Band.

Through its work with AWS, the Bundesliga’s live programming will be available to rights-holding broadcasters as cloud-based streams.

The league said today (Friday): “The DFL is now enabling IP-based live streaming to meet rising demand for over-the-top (OTT) content. AWS Elemental MediaLive provides the DFL with flexible capacity for encoding, independent of resolution or codec requirements.

“The fully managed service hence enables the DFL to implement encoding without having to invest in new hardware to do so, avoiding lengthy integration and upgrade cycles.”

The DFL is to create the international media products for all aspects of the Bundesliga matches before feeding the corresponding video signals into AWS for automatic processing and encoding using a variety of AWS Media Services.

The league detailed: “From that point, Cologne Broadcasting Center (CBC) will use LOGIC’s ‘PORTAL’ to simultaneously control and monitor the event-based live streams. Up to 13 channels will be launched each match day, which will be controlled by the operators at CBC.

“To supply AWS Elemental MediaLive the needed inputs, DFL will use AWS Elemental MediaConnect to transport high-bandwidth mezzanine video streams securely through encryption, providing DFL with the flexibility to perform tasks that are common but not necessarily easy.

“On the output side, DFL will use AWS Elemental MediaPackage as an origination service to generate all the proper types of Adaptive Bit Rate (ABR) outputs to suit the full range of media partners’ and their viewers’ end-user devices, such as smartphones, computers and large screen smart TVs, without needing to increase the encoding workload.”

Rights-holding broadcasters will be able to use the league’s ‘Customer Service Tool’ to book streams from Bundesliga matches with the DFL using AWS’ content delivery network and DNS (Domain Name System) service to generate a URL for broadcasters to access the streams.

The Bundesliga became the first football league to work with AWS in a deal announced at the start of this year. The initial focus of the deal, which runs for at least five years, includes the supply of advanced real-time statistics for viewers during live coverage and highlights clips, providing personalised content on digital platforms and using AWS cloud infrastructure, advanced machine learning and artificial intelligence technologies.

Last-minute rights deals finalised

Meanwhile, Claro has announced its acquisition of Bundesliga rights across Latin America (excluding Brazil).

Matches will be shown on the Claro Sports channel with the telecoms giant continuing its cross-platform approach through the free streaming of matches on the Marco Claro digital platform. Claro Sports and media group Marca first entered into a content alliance at the start of 2017 and with the aim of becoming the regional reference point for sports news.

The first match to be aired by both Claro Sports and Marca Claro will be Sunday’s clash between VfL Wolfsburg and Bayer Leverkusen.

In Brazil, commercial broadcaster Band has, as expected, agreed a deal to show one match per week on free-to-air television.

Band is to air Sunday’s match between RB Leipzig and Mainz as it kicks off its Bundesliga output.

Bundesliga International was left with the rights to sell one match per match week to a linear broadcaster after signing a wide-ranging deal in Brazil with OneFootball, the Germany-based digital platform, and the Sportfive.

Fox Sports, which has merged with ESPN in Brazil, held the Bundesliga rights in Brazil from 2015-16 to 2019-20 as part of an 80-territory deal across various international territories across Asia, the Americas and Europe.

The represents the second major European football league shown by Band after it recently bought the rights to the Italian Serie A in a one-season deal. Band also holds rights to the Russian Premier League and the women’s top-tier league in Brazil.

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Markham partially reopens sports, cultural facilities




Preventing the spread of COVID-19 isn’t the only factor driving the partial reopening of sports and cultural facilities in Markham this month.

Residents will get their rec fix based on demand since council is not prepared to hit them with the required tax increase deemed necessary to open all of the city’s centres under current coronavirus protocols, Mayor Frank Scarpitti said.

“The operation of these facilities is already heavily subsidized by property taxpayers,” Scarpitti said, adding “council is not prepared to further burden residents with higher property taxes by reopening all of our community centres resulting in additional cost for services and dramatically less customers due to COVID-19 protocols.”

By offering recreation programs based on demand, it allows the city to evaluate services in order to control costs, he added.

Services will gradually resume at select arenas and soccer domes, pickleball, badminton and table tennis will restart at the Pan Am Centre, while the Aaniin Community Centre and the Angus Glen Tennis Centre will be open to sports groups and registered participants only.

If the city had resumed full operations at all of its recreation and cultural facilities, while also meeting the COVID-19 protocols, Scarpitti said it would have required a doubling of subsidies and an increased cost to taxpayers that would be the equivalent of an additional six per cent property tax rate increase.

Appointment-only visits will be implemented at cultural venues such as the Markham Museum and Varley Art Gallery. 

All programming at the Flato Markham Theatre has been cancelled, however, for the fall of 2020 due to current COVID-19 protocols.

Scarpitti thanked Markham residents for their continued co-operation with COVID-19 health and safety measures in effect in all reopened cultural and recreation facilities. The measures are in accordance with the province’s limits on facility capacities, York Region’s directive on the mandatory use of masks or face coverings and City of Markham policies.

“I am confident we will find a good balance between reintroducing safe and enjoyable recreation programs and cultural services, while minimizing the impact to our property taxpayers,” he said.

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