The lone bright spot

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times/Shutterstock (11298501l) Inglewood, CA, Sunday, December 6, 2020 - Los Angeles Chargers outside linebacker Kenneth Murray (56) tackles New England Patriots quarterback Cam Newton (1) at SoFi Stadium. (Robert Gauthier/ Los Angeles Times) Chargers Patriots at SoFi Stadium, Sofi Stadium, Inglewood, California, United States - 06 Dec 2020

Well there was one bright spot

Well what can I say? There wasn’t a whole lot to be proud of in week 13 and in fact it was almost unbearable to witness. However with everyone feeling down and drowning in, what I would call focusing on the negative, I want to instead focus on a bright spot. That’s right there was a bright spot in week 13 that deserves our attention and that bright spot was the true breakout game of Kenneth Murray. Even though his rocky start and rookie growing pains have been well reported, we got to see a glimpse of the true potential that Murray possesses. This was the type of play we had hoped to see from the first round linebacker and oh man was it nice to watch something not only positive but to see one of the players as angry and frustrated as the rest of Chargers nation. There came a point in the game where I found myself thinking ‘this guy isn’t just playing with emotion; he has plain snapped’. After last week it’s hard not to believe that maybe Murray just plays better when he is pissed off. Quite simply put he was letting everyone know that he wasn’t about to go down/get punked like that and I love it.

Aug 30, 2020; Los Angeles, California, United States; Los Angeles Chargers linebacker Kenneth Murray Jr. (56) during training camp at the Jack Hammett Sports Complex. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

First and foremost, let’s go over this impressive stat line. He has 14 combined tackles (12 solo/2 assist) including 2 for a loss along with a sack. The sack he had of Cam Newton was the first of his very young career. I have previously said that no offseason creates more of a disadvantage for rookies and defensive players. Well in this particular case we have both. It’s probably better to not judge this year’s rookie class until year 2 when they have a chance to get a full training camp under their belts. That along with the fact that not all prospects develop in the same manner. This game by Murray kind of proves that. While previously on the season he had only recorded a pro football focus defensive grade of 52 overall. That includes a 58.2 run grade and a 48.1 overall pass coverage grade. Now the grades aren’t necessarily a tell all yet they do illustrate certain inconsistency in play. It will be interesting to see if he continues to excel for the rest of the season and especially so if he plays with that type of emotion moving forward. It was very Lawrence Taylor esque in my opinion. This is the type of fire and energy this defense will need to lean on in the future. That’s the type of energy that Legends are made of and I hope he can harness that type of energy and use it moving forward. If he can show another outing or two like that to close the season out, then it will instill great confidence in the entire organization moving forward. 

One more stat of note is the fact that 6 of his 14 combined tackles went for a stop. Meaning on six plays he stopped the ball carrier for no gain at all. This is something this run D has been missing all year long. His second highest tackle total was in week 4 against Tampa where he recorded 10 tackles. We have all been saying that despite the outcome of this season, the future is bright for the Chargers in the hands of Justin Herbert. However if Murray can continue to play at a level similar to what we saw against the Pats then you can count him as one of the reasons to be excited moving forward.

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